On 13 of August, we held a discussion what would be the local government 2.0 like @ Opinion Festival on State Potential Area.

We invited participants to the State Potential Area to share their thoughts, ideas and even dreams. Our motivation to hold such a panel was because currently there is an administrative reform being carried out in Estonia which has raised fears that the government will distance itself even more from the communities. At the same time, we believe that technology, if cleverally used, could bring communities even closer to the local authorities and take the communication to a whole new level.

The idea exchange was led and commented by Lauri Läänemets (Mayor of Väätsa), Liia Hänni (eGA), Madis Kallas (Mayor of Kuressaare), Väino Tõemets (Ministry of Finance), Kurmet Müürsepp (Association of Municipalities) and Hannes Astok (eGA).

The thoughts and statements may find below.

Question: What is my dream local government like?

  • It is essential to maintenance schools in each municipality.
  • The municipality, which involves all groups of the population and people who live in different regions.
  • The municipality, which offers modern and innovative e-services.
  • The municipality, which is not burdened with debts and can act freely.
  • The municipality, which offers the opportunity to engage and participate in activities of the local authority via Internet.
  • The municipality who would intervene only when necessary – not to over involve people.
  • The municipality, which operates a community of lively people.
  • The municipality, who acts in a wisely and in an active manner.
  • The municipality for whom e-services are not an aim itself but people are.
  • The municipality which is facing the people.
  • The municipality for whom boundaries are not important but collaboration to find solutions.
  • The municipality in which the major visits the periphery.
  • The municipality, whose activities are transparent and understandable.
  • The municipality which there when needed and just as much as needed.
  • The municipality, which would engage in order to make better decisions.
  • The municipality, who could be well administrated but could also be aimed at development.

Question: How would I like to take part in the organization of local government and how could I participate in decision-making processes?

  • The requirement for a dream local government is the obvilion of citizens who are actively participating in decision-making processes and are involved in various levels.
  • Currently, the governments are inclined towards a representative governance. Local authorities should be guided by the development plans, not their parties.
  • The communities could consolidate in order to be able to better represent their interests and protect them.
  • Local governments are often lacking of active people who want to be involved. They need to boos the people for the potential to be exploited.
  • Deposit schemes on mistrust should be implemented: when someone wants to express no confidence in Mayor / a council member, it puts down a deposit. If a vote of no confidence fails, one will not get the deposit back and it would go to the government development fund. If such a motion is going through, one can initiate its money back (in addition to the desired change in the local authority level).
  • The communities should be represented in the form of a village elder.
  • Local elections should be guided by the activities of the candidates and its real actions instead of family- or friend relationships.
  • Engagement of the people has to have a real outcome!
  • Involvement and participation are time-consuming and therefore participants should be motivated. One motivation could be that once the result has been reached, the participants will be reported.
  • Local governments should have more expert-knowledge.
  • Better voter behavior: government is being run by the people we elect. We should already be critical while electing the government and choose people with expert knowledge instead of friends.
  • Avoidance of active citizens’ proposals is demotivating and will deter to local management.
  • People are the most motivated by the crisis – under normal circumstances people do not want to participate in the development of their home.
  • Municipal leaders should organize so called village tours or visit borderlands themselves in order to better inform and engage residents from the outskirts.
  • There is no single model for the involvement of citizens and local governments – it has to be found together.

Question: What do I expect from government services and in which form I would like to consume them?

  • Cooperation with community services and other government authorities.
  • Local government must be active provider of services rather than wait for people to come and ask for a service.
  • Small municipalities are lacking of resources and know-how of how to provide certain services (eg. Child welfare)
  • Some services must remain available close from peoples’ homes. Others could also be concentrated in centers that would enhance their quality.
  • Local governments are lacking of information of people’s needs of e-services.
  • Information and communication is almost the most important service that local government could offer.
  • Local government shouls commit to motivate residents to offer services.
  • Smaller municipalities may offer joint services.
  • In order to use e-services, there should be also guidelines included to provide assistance to the people how to use them.
  • To get younger generation to use e-services, they should be available as applications.
  • Experience, when with the use e-services people’s desire to participate increased.
  • Uneven level of quality of service as well as communication in different municipalities.
  • It is necessary to share the experiences, otherwise you do not know what else could municipality have and in which direction it could be developed.
  • Local government 2.0 should be a government that can fit into your pocket.
  • When offering services, it is crucial to define the goal of the service and then decide whether there should be an e-service for this after all. Often the goal remains undetermined.
  • Concern that while completing the administrative reform, no one is not worried about the bigger picture. For example, what happens to the countries of service / division of labor when one government is one of the county.
  • When creating services, we have to keep in mind that young people are going to also use them in 20 years time as well as take into consideration the aging of the society and therefore 60+ people should be also guaranteed an access to the services and they should have the skills to use them.