Borja Colón. Head of the Administration and Public Innovation Service of the Diputació de Castelló.
Some time ago, Alorza published a brilliant entry on “The open government roadmap: a logarithmic spiral” that you can find HERE, but there was something that did not fit me, just as it does not fit into this issue in recent years, as also happened with those that I have been involved with related to innovation and public policies and linked to what we call “Open Government” and topics like transparency, participation, open data promotion or accountability. I think that there is an element that, in my opinion, we take for granted and that we cannot ignore, the low commitment of society with the values that inspire the aforementioned Open Government. Let me clarify.
In my opinion, the main question is that no matter how many efforts we make to define – or redefine – the Open Government model and all the values and principles linked to it, they will have little effectif we are not able to make society feel identified personally and gregariously with them, from the very beginning.
Perhaps we should go back to read R. Inglehart again and understand the importance of primary socialization, orienting education in schools towards a change of values in favor of that much desired transparency, participation or accountability. He already wrote in the 90s, “the generational replacement gives us the opportunity to convert modern societies into more postmaterialist societies with a clear interest in politics and citizen participation.
In other words, if our society is not “born” to embrace the Open Government paradigm, perhaps we can invest, literally, in educating it so they know what it is, understand it and, finally, value it and demand it.
On the other hand, I think we have underestimated the value of public innovation as a true ideological root of Open Government, as well as of assuming “new ideas that can be implemented and generate social value”, public innovation, has the virtue of closing the gap between the Administration and the citizens, between the demands of these and the public policies that the representatives intends to promote… and what is this but Open Government?
As Carles Ramió said and Xavier Marcet has commented on many occasions, difficult times for the public should not be fought only with principles and values, but rather with clear and precise ideas that can stablish Administrations of the XXI century. Public innovation attacks social detachment, seduces the interests of citizens and makes our role as intermediaries become the real added value of the provision of public services. It could be said, then, that public innovation is, in addition, the lifeline of the Open Government.
Therefore, although it is difficult for us to understand and relate it, it is in our hands that through innovation– or rather – through concrete innovations, we reconnect with people and make them participate, to make them interested in our portals, our policies, to evaluate us, to be interested in what we do, and only then we will have some possibility to decrease the distance that currently separates the institutions and the society.