Institution: Eusko Jaurlaritza- Gobierno Vasco (Dirección de Gobierno Abierto)
Problem: There was a general inability to effectively participate in political life outside of traditional elections. While there were laws regulating popular legislative initiatives, they went generally unused as they needed significant numbers of petitions to move forward. There was no space for citizens to comment on initiatives and government proposals before they became laws or an open, two-way channel to collect citizens’ views on various topics. The configuration of meetings and working groups further hindered free access of citizens to these processes. The Basque Government thus found it essential to increase citizen participation.
Solution: In 2009, the Basque Government implemented the concept of open government, with a web platform under the name of Irekia, that collected the activities of the Basque Government and its subsidiaries, including public responsibilities. Irekia was meant to improve transparency within the government, and participation, such that proposals and information on topics for discussion were posted online where the public could also make specific feedback. Draft laws, plans, and standards could be tested, reoriented, improved, and debated from the time of their posting, allowing citizens to exercise greater control and monitoring of the programmes.
Impact: The initiative was a leader among Spanish regions in the ranking of Transparency International (Incau) with 100 per cent of indicators completed in 2014. In 2012, the Basque already led with 97.5 points in an index that measures, through a set of 80 indicators, the level of transparency of the seventeen autonomous communities of the Spanish State. For the Basque Government, transparency is attached to the philosophy of good governance and is also one of the strategic priorities of the Government. Response times to citizen requests continues to improve. In 2012, the issues were answered within an average of 15 days and it currently averages around 6-8 days, depending on the type of request.