The Government Office has improved the user-friendliness of the central information channel of the Government – the e-Consultation System – in order to make it easier to use and navigate.
The most significant addition - made to the e-Consultation System at the request of non-governmental organisations - is the option for adding notifications, which enable information concerning preparation of draft legislation, its proceedings and options regarding involvement in its development or other issues, to become available at an early stage of policy-making, so that interested parties could participate from the start.
Notifications, such as summaries of public consultations, can also be added during the proceedings, or after the proceedings to announce the closure of the legislative draft work.
The Government Office has begun organising meetings with representatives of ministries to ensure that the new functionality will be used as widely as possible.
Additional improvements of the e-Consultation System deal with search options. Stages of proceedings are now more distinguishable and the view of a draft legislation dossier is more comprehensive.
Secretary of State Heiki Loot pointed out that Estonia is known to be the only country where the drafting of legislation and inter-ministerial coordination processes are so transparent. “When we introduce our systems to foreign visitors, they often find it hard to believe that it is possible to manage things this way,” added Loot.
The e-Consultation System was created in 2011 as a work environment for inter-ministerial coordination of documents, submission of documentation to the Government and the Parliament as well as for public consultation.
In addition to internal documents, legislative proposals from the European Union and other documents related to the decision-making processes of the EU are also available in the e-Consultation System.
The e-Consultation System gives everyone a chance to follow the proceedings of draft legislation, search for documents in the information system, participate in public consultations and submit comments on documents that are currently in the coordination and consultation process.
The improvements to the e-Consultation System were envisaged in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Action Plan for 2014-2016. The activities of the OGP are coordinated by a Coordination Council that consists of government and civil society representatives (including non-governmental organisations, employers and contractors), which was created in September 2014. As of 2016, members of the Coordination Council also include representatives of Parliament and local governments.
Estonia joined the Open Government Partnership, which currently includes 69 countries, in 2012. The OGP is an international initiative that was created to promote good governance in the world by using opportunities arising from developments in technology. Open governance means exercising power in an honest and transparent way and through dialogue with citizens. Countries that have joined the OGP commit themselves to following the principles of an open government and to developing a specific Action Plan in cooperation with various parties.
According to an evaluation published a year ago by the international secretariat of the OGP, Estonia has managed to involve non-governmental organisations in the preparation, implementation, and performance of the OGP Action Plan better than anyone else.
According to OECD data, involvement in policy-making in Estonia has increased significantly. Compared to other OECD countries, Estonia ranks sixth out of 38 countries. In the previous report, Estonia was ranked 33th out of 36 countries.