The National Development Plan 2015-18

Costa Rica has included a move toward an open, transparent and efficient government that fights against corruption as one of the three pillars of its National Development Plan (NDP) for 2015-18.1 This inclusion of open government in the country’s key policy document carries great potential for the development of the national open government agenda and is testimony to the administration’s commitment to open government. The plan states that “open government is central for this administration. It represents a renewed emphasis on reforming and modernising the state administration, drawn from an innovative relationship between the different actors for generating public value. It is not an end in itself, but an approach to promote transparency, collaboration and participation. Open government constitutes the third pillar of the Solis Rivera administration (MIDEPLAN, 2014).”

The three pillars defined by the current administration have been translated into three overarching national goals/objectives, one of which is

fighting corruption and strengthening a transparent, efficient and effective state. The government recognises that in order “to move towards the aspiration to achieve greater well-being and quality of life for all citizens (...) it is required to address the fight against corruption and to strengthen a transparent and efficient State. Realising this goal means promoting a national culture of ethics, transparency and accountability that must go hand in hand with a contribution of the population by means of citizen control. Transparency is related, among other things, to access to public information, which will be facilitated by implementing a model of open government, to allow a closer relationship with Costa Rican citizens” (Government of Costa Rica, 2014). It is further mentioned that the open government pillar feeds into specific sectoral programmes and is a key element that contributes to all initiatives included in the plan (see also Box 1.2).

Box 1.2. Open government in Costa Rica’s National Development Plan 2015-18


“The focus on transparency issues, citizen participation and accountability has become relevant in recent years, originating in the rising demands on democracy, both in our country and in the international context. These principles have gained greater meaning and coherence, to the extent that they have recently begun to define the contours of the concept of open government.

Since the concept was redefined in early 2009, it has brought about new approaches on how to improve governance and promote institutional strengthening, giving rise to a context where the role of actors beyond the state has been instrumental, prompting a transition which has allowed the country to move in directions that expand the possibilities of our democratic systems and promote new spaces for an enhanced relationship and virtuous link between civil society, the State and the market.

Box 1.2. Open government in Costa Rica’s National Development Plan 2015-18

(Translation) (continued)

Open government is central to this administration. The idea is framed as a renewed appeal for the reform of the state and the modernisation of the public administration, based on an innovative relationship between different actors to co-create public value. It is not an end in itself, but a means to promote transparency, collaboration and participation. Open government constitutes the third pillar of the Solis Rivera administration.

Transparency, understood in a proactive manner, is recognised in the citizenship rights and powers so that, apart from access to information on state affairs, citizens also have the ability to participate in and form their opinions about public affairs.

Collaboration is defined as the commitment on the part of citizens and of other actors who participate and co-operate with the government to improve public services, and the concept also includes the mainstreaming of the interoperability that must exist both within and between the various agencies and state bodies, which are also players in open government.

Finally, citizen participation emphasizes the central role of citizens in public affairs and in the decision-making processes which affect them, as members of the public work to find and implement solutions in a greater shared responsibility scheme that can take advantage of distributed capabilities and the collective intelligence of social actors.

Today’s communication and information technologies allow citizens to be in contact with others around the world almost instantly, and the use of the resources and services made possible by global communication networks facilitates the spread of and access to information and knowledge. Ortiz (1995) notes that the greater the amount of information generated by a society, the greater the need to convert it into knowledge.

In a world characterized by the phenomenon known as the information explosion, timely and accurate access to and possession of data are vital elements to the development of changing means of decision making.

It is recognised that information has an impact on the social, economic, environmental and political development of a country, as it constitutes a resource of great economic value. However, the organisation, standardisation, dissemination and spread of information have all been found wanting overall and lacking in coherence, preventing the State from improving its decision making. In addition, these failures constitute a violation of the right of citizens to be informed, thus limiting their participation and therefore the possibility of feedback between government and society. Moreover, it is necessary to address and rectify the lack of initiatives, decisions and government actions for a thorough implementation of the Information and Knowledge Society.

In addition to this, it is essential to consider other elements or factors that influence information flows, both in the public and private sectors and civil society.

Box 1.2. Open government in Costa Rica’s National Development Plan 2015-18

(Translation) (continued)

The State recognises the importance of strengthening its information infrastructures, and therefore it intends to develop a strategy to encourage and manage development resources, services and information systems content, consistent with the information and communication technologies, aimed at ensuring access to universal information to achieve national development goals. In all this, a focus on national, regional, sectoral, local and international integration should be maintained.

This is how we will achieve better conditions for effective decision making, contribute to the process of accountability, transparency and reduce the digital divide, all in order to establish a permanent dialogue between the government and citizens and encourage their participation.

Suggestions for changes could also come from society itself, thanks to the feedback from citizens, which will allow them to exercise their right to be informed about public affairs and, therefore, act through the expression of public opinion, to make their views heard on government decisions in various areas such as environmental and social policy, among other topics, with citizens moving from a role as passive actors to that of watchdogs of public governance. The government seeks to strengthen the idea of new “electronic governance”, which enables electronic interaction between government and civil society actors (institutions, individuals and companies) in order to broaden and deepen the areas of democracy, participation and promote transparency and improve the processes of governance. These processes serve to democratise and encourage the exercise of the right to information, with agency departments responsible for information and professionals in this area taking on an important role in a context that brings with it new challenges and new opportunities.

Given the shortcomings in relation to the quality and timeliness of the data recorded by the different institutions, there is a plan to increase information gathering capacity through the establishment of efficient information sector units that allow agencies to collect, store, process and analyse data. Similarly, it is expected to generate improvement of all the sectors that make up the Solis Rivera Administration, as well as the links between integration and exchange of information.

All this is aimed at making it possible to use strategic, timely, reliable and accurate information on different topics in the design of strategies and policies at the local, regional, sectoral and national levels. The plan’s functions relate to the generation, integration and dissemination of statistical and geographical information, which will generate a variety of products and services. In this task, documentation centres could redefine their roles, moving towards greater co-ordination with and receiving guidance from the Centre for Information and Planning (Centro de Informacion para la Planificacion) as set out in Executive Decree 37735- May 2013.”

Source: Government of Costa Rica (2014), Plan Nacional de Desarrolo 2015-2018,

Hence, OG is a key transversal axis of public management and of the development agenda of Costa Rica. The expressed aim of this administration is to make open government the basis for conducting politics and administering the state (see Box 1.3 for an example of how this is being done in Peru). In order to make this aim a reality, open government has to become the guiding vision of the state in order to achieve concrete results for its people. The government has begun this operationalisation of the open government pillars of its NDP through the design of the National Open Government Strategy (see below).

Box 1.3. Peru’s Policy of Modernisation of Public Management

Other countries in the region have employed similar approaches to incorporate open government principles in their modernisation and development plans. For instance, in Peru, the Policy of Modernisation of Public Management (Politica de Modernization de la Gestion Ptiblica) entails a focus on open government policies that represents one of the three transversal axes, which cut across the five main pillars of the reform.

Source: OECD (forthcoming), Peru: Implementing Integrated Governance for Inclusive Growth, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >