Citizen Design Group
Ministry of Interior

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
A series of institutional initiatives, such as public hearings, policy proposals and discussions, have been taken to collect the public opinion during the government policymaking and implementation process. However, such initiatives have clear limits and shortcomings. First, they can only bring about fragmented participation of citizens rather than continuous participation throughout the entire policymaking process. For example, policy proposals can provide people’s ideas to the government, but they lack the tool to guarantee the actual implementation of the ideas proposed by citizens. Public hearings and discussions also have similar limitations: they cannot assure that the proposed ideas will be realized into policies. Second, they can only reflect the opinions of a small number of people, organizations and experts that have a relatively strong voice, while neglecting the needs of the silent majority who are less enthusiastic about carrying their opinions to the government. Therefore, questions have been raised whether these traditional models of opinion gathering can really capture and reflect the demands of the majority or latent needs of people into government policies. The Korean government faced the need to reorient the policy model from top-down to bottom-up approach to find out uncovered needs of citizens, especially the elderly, rural residents and others who have difficulty in delivering their ideas and opinions to the government due to the time and distance constraints as well as the digital divide. Against this backdrop, the Citizen Design Group has kicked off as an innovative alternative to these traditional initiatives of participation.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The solution for representing uncovered public needs was reinventing the policymaking model into a customer-oriented one with the innovative use of “service design” method in public policies and services. The “Citizen Design Group,” introduced by the Ministry of the Interior in 2014, adopts the concept of service design which figures out the true needs of people through analysis on customer’s experience and in-depth interviews on public policies. The Citizen Design Group, consisting of citizens, service designers, and government officials aims to develop public services by strengthening bottom-up participation of citizens as policymakers in the whole policymaking process

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The Citizen Design Group solves the problems confronted by both central and local government and improves the peoples’ live condition through the bottom-up approach with service design techniques in every area of public administration. Each Group, which is composed of 8 to 15 members including citizens, service designers and government officials, renovates public services by suggesting the right solution through identifying the true needs of people with the “service design method” which is widely accepted in the private sector as one of the most useful tools for unlocking innovation of services from the viewpoint of customers. The key factor of the service design method is re-designing the service from the customer’s perspective by utilizing tools such as setting a persona (the representative customer), drawing a customer journey map (the map of the service process drawn by the customer’s perspective), and carrying out in-depth interview with the customers and field research. With these tools, the service designers identify the current problems of service. After identifying the problems, the service designers develop the best solution by repetitively stimulating divergent and convergent thinking from a design thinking perspective. Through the design thinking, they can uncover the true needs of customers which are usually hidden and not easy to figure out. The Citizen Design Group, which adopts this service design method in the public sector, is highly applicable to the areas of public policies and services such as health, welfare, and residential environment that require close contact with service customers. For example, a Citizen Design Group for Hongseong-gun (county), Chungcheongnam-do (province) of 2016 introduced the “color design” for the elderly who use the Welfare Center for the Senior Citizens in the region. The Group found out, through interviews and field research, that the aged have difficulties in finding places due to their weakened vision and the sense of color. Therefore, the Group introduced the color design for the safety of senior citizens by replacing existing signboards that show spaces such as restroom, corridor, and meeting halls in the welfare center and adopting space-tailored color and design. In Sasang-gu (district), Busan Metropolitan City, a Design Group of 2016 came up with policies such as turning an abandoned house into a community hall and growing a community garden that every resident co-manages plants for boosting community activities, with an aim to minimize the welfare blind spots. The 2015 Design Group for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs performed a project of renovating the co-living facility for elderly people. The initial plan was to renovate the public bath and install the air conditioner. However, the Group succeeded in figuring out the hidden needs of senior citizens through in-depth interview and field research. Based upon their finding, the Group completely changed their task. Contrary to the common belief that the elderly would spend only their daytime in the facility and go back home to sleep comfortably, the field research revealed that the elderly prefer to stay in the facility hall at night because most of them live alone and are afraid of the possible emergency situation while sleeping alone. As the facility hall was initially designed only for daytime stay, it was not properly equipped with any means to provide the privacy while the elderly slept in the hall at night. The final solution was quite different from what was initially planned: building up a movable wall in the hall for protecting their privacy at night.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
‘Design Thinking’, which is the core idea of the Citizen Design Group, refers to a method that employs divergent thinking to seek many possible options different from commonly perceived notions and then convergent thinking to get to the bottom of existing challenges and narrow down to a final solution. The Citizen Design Group distinguishes itself from other traditional and bureaucratic models of opinion gathering by adopting this new way of innovative thinking and methodologies to engage citizens in policymaking process to draw the best solution at first hand. Specifically, this new initiative prefers in-depth interviews with customers and actual service-experience as the customer while completely abandoning the traditional methods of customer research survey or expert opinion gathering which tend to fail in figuring out the “hidden” needs of the customers. With these new methods, the Group finds out latent needs of people that cannot be easily discovered by traditional methods.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) establishes a master plan to operate Citizen Design Groups at the beginning of each year and notifies each central and local government. Based on this plan, each institution autonomously selects tasks to form each Group and establish detailed operational plan. In the process, MOI undertakes the supervision of overall project management by providing financial support to outstanding projects, offering education and consultation as well as introducing suitable service designer for each project. Depending on the type of tasks performed by the Group, all 50 million Koreans can be the beneficiaries of the initiative. Some initiatives can benefit not only Korean nationals but also foreigners living in Korea. For example, the Korea Customs Service has revised the way of providing overseas travel information such as exchange rate, weather, and customs information through the Design Group to provide better service to over 18 million international travelers annually. In Ulsan Metropolitan City, where many factories are located, workers and citizens participate in the Group to create a design application system to reduce safety accidents in the industrial complex which benefits more than one million Ulsan city residents including foreigners. As of 2016, 33 out of 46 central government agencies and all 243 local governments operated the Design Group, which implies that virtually all citizens of the Republic of Korea have enjoyed the benefits of the initiative.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
One of the main strategies of the Citizen Design Group initiative was to run a pilot project at the beginning. When the pilot project was proved to be effective, the Citizen Design group succeeded in gaining support from both providers and beneficiaries. As a result, it was gradually expanded across the nation from the second year of 2015. First launched as a pilot project in 2014, the Citizen Design Group was significantly expanded especially to the municipalities where citizens frequently use public services. From the second year of implementation in 2015, it became one of the official programs of the Government 3.0 Initiative, a government innovation initiative presented by the Korean Government. Since then, the number of Design Groups has dramatically grown. * The number of Citizen Design Groups: 31 in 2014 → 248 in 2015 → 382 in 2016 The operation of the Citizen Design Group consists of a chain of process: discovering problems, defining the issues, developing the solutions and delivering them based on a design thinking that repeats divergent and convergent thinking ◇ Discover: Identifying problems of public services and policies through extensive investigation for stakeholders and discover hidden needs of the public. ◇ Define: Narrowing key issues from the results of discover activity and setting policy objectives to determine strategic direction of policies and services. ◇ Develop: Suggesting various solutions to achieve the goal through brainstorming, etc. ◇ Deliver: Suggesting various solutions to achieve the goal through brainstorming, etc. objectives to Group to create a design application The Citizen Design Group management structure consists of two levels: The overall project management such as establishment of strategies, consulting, education, and provision of operation manual is planned and operated by the Ministry of the Interior in collaboration with the Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP), a specialized agency in the field of design and an affiliated organization of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. KIDP is in charge of implementing and managing detailed programs. At the operation level, each central or municipal government is responsible for organizing and managing its own Citizen Design Group by allocating its own budget to implement solutions suggested by the Group. With an aim to spread best practices across the nation and support relatively under-funded local governments, the Ministry of the Interior provided support of operation fees for fifteen projects and special subsidies to ten outstanding projects in 2016. The special subsidy for each project was KRW 50 million (USD 45,000) which helped materializing the solution the Group suggested. While the Citizen Design Group usually spent only a small budget of operation fee, ministries and municipalities needed to mobilize extra resources such as budget and human resources to implement solutions suggested by the Citizen Design Group. Therefore, the budget and human resources mobilized for the Citizen Design Group as a whole is much larger than what was revealed during the design process.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) kicked off the project in 2014 in collaboration with Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP), an affiliated organization of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Since then, overall implementation of the project including management and operation was carried out by both MOI and KIDP. At the execution level, each central and local government organizes and operates respective Citizen Design Group, composed of experts, citizens, service designers and public officials, for carrying out an individual program. Citizens and experts were selected through human resources pools or voluntary applications. As of 2016, about 3,000 people participated in 382 Groups. The role of each participant is as follows: 1. Government Officials: High level officials took the role of general managers who manage the status of overall projects and supervise follow-up measures. Meanwhile, a task manager who is at a relatively lower rank took the role of encouraging cooperation among stakeholders, organizing budgets, and implementing the result of program. Both of them have the common roles of providing support for expenses and managing the timeline and goals of the project. 2. Service Designer: Service designer is the key man of the project who takes the role of planning and supervising task operation with the service design method. The service designer should have a full knowledge on how the service design process works and how the method can draw about the ideas from the participants. 3. Experts: The group of experts is composed of professors and managers who had long working experience related to the task. They provide expertise in relevant fields. 4. Citizens: Citizens serve as the customers or end-users of services that the Citizen Design Group wants to improve. They offer customer’s perspectives and suggest ideas and solutions.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The activities of the Citizen Design Group helped to renovate administrative services in a more people-centered way with the viewpoint of the public. As a result, the transparency, efficiency, and reliability of the administrative services have been greatly improved. As one example, the 2015 Citizen Design Group of the Korea Customs Service designed and launched the user-centered and integrated overseas travel information service which provides useful information as exchange rates, weather, and customs to citizens who travel abroad. Such information used to be provided in a fragmented way by each agency, while the new service provides them in one mobile page step-by-step with the stage of tourist’s journey. Accordingly, it perfectly satisfies the customer’s needs, by dramatically shortening the time for searching same information from 5 minutes and 37 seconds to 27 seconds. Another example is the 2016 Citizen Design Group of Incheon Metropolitan City. The Group conducted a complete research on small-and medium-sized factories located within the city and identified the needs of local workers. For instance, they needed a more friendly working environment and continuous child care support while they were working in the factory. Through the group activities, innovative solutions such as the “child care bus“ which takes care of child for working mothers and changing dilapidated corridors between factories into pleasant resting places were suggested and implemented. With such initiatives, local governments are turning into more capable and competent municipalities. We believe that the initiative is more efficient and cost-effective compared to other traditional participating tools as it only requires a dozen of people while other participating tools such as a survey need to receive answers from thousands of people, which takes a lot of time and cost. In addition, many surveys fail to capture the real intention of people while the Citizen Design Group can easily figure out the latent needs of citizens.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Several municipalities which have insufficient budgets due to the decline in population were more reluctant to introduce the Citizen Design Group. To encourage their participation, the Ministry of the Interior has provided active support such as operation fee support and special subsidies for excellent projects. Second obstacle that MOI confronted was the low level of understanding of public officials and the Citizen Design Group members on the service design. Due to the lack of understanding, it was difficult to induce active participation of municipalities and ministries at the beginning. To overcome this challenge at the initial stage, MOI drove various strategies such as distributing the field manual for better understanding and smooth operation, providing education by design professionals and local design centers, offering consultation to participants, and strengthening incentives such as granting awards by the MOI. As a result, the number of participating ministries and municipalities has constantly grown since the second year of the implementation in 2015.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The key benefits of the initiative are enhanced diversity and accessibility of public services as a result of cooperation with citizens in the overall policymaking process, shifting from the government-centered provision of public services to bottom-up approach. It carries the significance as a tool for boosting the active participation of citizens to the public administration without a large amount of costs or massive campaigns while guaranteeing the tangible outcomes that cannot be easily made with other participation tools that only work partially during the policymaking process. It also promotes the diversity in delivering public services and policies since it reflects fresh and creative ideas from the public which cannot be imagined by the public official alone. For example, the Design Group of Incheon Metropolitan City in 2015 developed a plan for revitalizing communities in old towns and raising the mutual understanding between the old and the young generations. The plan included shifting empty or abandoned houses into community kitchens where the elderly with physical discomfort and children who spend daytime alone in the dual-income family could eat together. The Group also came up with the idea of healthy senior citizens to take care of children for school commute in dangerous areas. In addition, the Citizen Design Group greatly contributed to strengthening the public’s accessibility to civil services by re-designing the services based on service design method which aims at enhancing the customer satisfaction and experience. For example, many government agencies such as National Tax Agency, National Statistics Office, and Korea Customs Service are now tapping into the Group to redesign their online services in a more user-friendly way.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Integrity and transparency of public services have been fundamentally improved as citizens were directly involved in designing policies. As the customers are involved in the policymaking process, traditional policies and services that were designed from the perspective of the policy providers are wholly-renovated into more accountable, transparent, and customer-friendly ones. Also, the responsibility of administrative services has been significantly expanded as the citizens' demands have been more reflected into civil services through a bottom-up model. For instance, the Ministry of the Interior operated the Citizen Design Group in 2015 to re- design the Budget Waste Protection Center and found out ways to improve the system to enhance its accessibility for the public. As a result, the mobile reporting on wasteful use of budget was introduced as an alternative to existing burdensome facsimile or postal mail report. The Design Group also suggested organizing the “Tax Watchdog Group” to allow the public to determine whether the tax waste report was appropriate and even conduct a joint investigation with the government on reported cases of tax waste to improve insufficient follow-up management after people’s reporting. The other advantage Citizen Design Group has in terms of anti-corruption is its possibility of replacing the contract-out of the government service, which usually have the potential corruption matter in many countries. The Citizen Design Group is much superior to contract- out service in terms of transparency and prevention of corruption because services are designed by the citizens in open procedure.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The Citizen Design Group changed many administrative services for women and vulnerable classes, by transforming public services used to be provided on the basis of the suppliers' perspective toward a more customer-tailored perspective. In particular, when the subject of task is related to women or the vulnerable class, the Citizen Design Group itself included women or other less-privileged people in the group as its members. For example, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has shifted the delivery of women's health information from a provider-centered one to a customer-oriented system by the consultation of the Citizen Design Group consisting of housewives. In addition, many Design Groups performed Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) projects which prevent crimes against women and the vulnerable in old towns where the police cannot fully keep public order and security during nighttime.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Interior
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Sungyeol Shin
Title:   Director for Public Participation Policy Division  
Telephone/ Fax:   82-2-2100-3460
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   209 Sejong-daero
Postal Code:   03171
City:   Jongno-gu
State/Province:   Seoul

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