On June 27, 2012, over fifty Russian and international participants gathered at a workshop on "Open Government Ecosystem: Way Forward for Russia" convened at the World Bank’s Moscow office. International speakers focused their presentations on global advances in Open Government and the value of linking an Open Government “ecosystem” to existing platforms for e-government and citizen engagement.
The most interesting part of the workshop, however, were the contributions of the Russian participants who represented key federal ministries, five Russian regional governments, Russia’s expert community and private sector, as well as other regions who joined among the over 300 viewers of the live webcast of the event.
Their message was unmistakable: Open Government innovations are happening all over Russia, and are starting to have genuine support from the country’s top leaders.
Key takeaways from the workshop were:
1.Open Government has a prominent place in the agenda of Russia’s political leadership, which is committed to accelerating its introduction through the deployment of four specific, national-level initiatives within the next 12 months:
• Platform for public consultations on proposed legislation and decisions by September 1, 2012;
• Criteria and procedures for public assessment of the performance of executive authorities at all levels of government by January 1, 2013;
• ePetition platform by April 2013; and
• Open Data portal by July 15, 2013.
2. Certain regional and municipal governments have begun initiating Open Government activities. Participants at the Moscow workshop highlighted a few successful, pioneering Open Government initiatives at the regional and local levels such as:
• Perm Krai’s effort to engage citizens in creating and maintaining up-to-date maps of the region based on OpenStreetMap; and
• Moscow City’s “Moscow Roads” portal which enables citizens to provide ratings on road condition and maintenance that are used to evaluate the performance of contractors.
The potential to scale innovative, regional Open Government services across Russia is immense. And Government-driven efforts in Open Government are matched by innovative applications launched by individuals and non-government groups.
One app that grabbed national attention—“Russia Without Fools”—is a portal for crowdsourcing citizen complaints about nonsensical “red tape” and officials’ inefficiency.
A second example of Russian Open Government innovation is DalSlovo.Ru, a portal launched in March 2011 enabling crowdsourced reporting of promises made by politicians and whether they have been fulfilled.
The spirited discussions during the workshop made three things clear: Significant innovations in Open Government are happening in Russia, though shaped by the Russian context. The federal government has started a major push for Open Government this year. And Russia, like other countries, can generate more impact from its efforts by aiming not just to launch new eServices and platforms but by building a real Open Government Ecosystem that creates opportunities for all communities, the private sector and governments to engage and innovate.
For additional information, presentations from the Moscow workshop are available here.