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Five years of Citizen Budget: an
impact assessment on e-PB and
online engagement
Presented by: Christian Medina-Ramirez (Open North)
Project Name: Citizen Budget TicTec (Lisbon)
Date: April 19, 2018 at 3:30 PM (GMT/WET)
Our Values-Driven Mission
“We are an active member of a global community working in favour of inclusive and
innovative ecosystems, improving government transparency and accountability, and
increasing public participation in democracy towards enhanced citizen and
community well-being.”
For Better, More Open Democracy
www.opennorth.ca
Who We Work With
Road Map for Presentation
Motivation for Research
- 5 Years of data
- Consistent information
- Longitudinal, Relatively large N-Study
- State of the field
- Looking to expand abroad, we need to better understand impact
What is Impact?
- Brute Measures (ie: number of instances of participation, web-
visits, bounce rates, etc.)?
- Policy outcomes?
- Citizen perceptions of government?
Tangible vs. Intangible outcomes
Tangible
- Policy Decisions
- Reports and Plans
- Policies
- New Institutions
- New Processes
Intangible
- Participant Empowerment
- Social Learning
- Willingness to participate in
the future
- Increased “trust” in
government
- Improved understanding of
government
“For me, I think probably the most important thing [about Citizen Budget] was that this
community is already used to doing, participating in setting the priorities of the council, and
the budget, and the city administration [sic] … I think we are going to find a very receptive
community that already knows how to do that” - Robert Nicolay, City Manager, Grande
Prairie, Alberta
Impact
More results
- Tracked impact (qualitative) and tested (quantitative) theories held
in the field, taking advantage of our large N-sample:
What we tested:
- Does existing democratic culture affect e-PB participation rates?
- Does low participation lead to cities halting use of e-PB?
Research Agenda
- How can we use information on public consultations in Open Data?
- How do we measure changes in trust in government and is this
separate from trust in public consultations?
Measuring trust
● Perceptions of trust are tied to
understandings (and
misunderstandings) of
government roles
● Cultural attitudes
● Shaped by too many actors
(Media, misinformation, etc)
Other ways CB relates to Impact
- Institutionalization
- Low-tech, no high expertise
- Easy to implement, fun for citizens
- City official buy-in
Counter-arguments
- Top-Heavy approach
- Will it translate to other contexts?
- Cherry-picking impact?
Questions & Answers
Stay in Touch
Website: www.opennorth.ca
Email: info@opennorth.ca
Twitter | FaceBook | GitHub | LinkedIn
Merci | Thank You | Gracias

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Five years of Citizen Budget: an impact assessment (Christian Medina-Ramirez - Open North)

  • 1. Five years of Citizen Budget: an impact assessment on e-PB and online engagement Presented by: Christian Medina-Ramirez (Open North) Project Name: Citizen Budget TicTec (Lisbon) Date: April 19, 2018 at 3:30 PM (GMT/WET)
  • 2. Our Values-Driven Mission “We are an active member of a global community working in favour of inclusive and innovative ecosystems, improving government transparency and accountability, and increasing public participation in democracy towards enhanced citizen and community well-being.” For Better, More Open Democracy www.opennorth.ca
  • 3. Who We Work With
  • 4. Road Map for Presentation
  • 5. Motivation for Research - 5 Years of data - Consistent information - Longitudinal, Relatively large N-Study - State of the field - Looking to expand abroad, we need to better understand impact
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8.
  • 9. What is Impact? - Brute Measures (ie: number of instances of participation, web- visits, bounce rates, etc.)? - Policy outcomes? - Citizen perceptions of government?
  • 10. Tangible vs. Intangible outcomes Tangible - Policy Decisions - Reports and Plans - Policies - New Institutions - New Processes Intangible - Participant Empowerment - Social Learning - Willingness to participate in the future - Increased “trust” in government - Improved understanding of government
  • 11.
  • 12. “For me, I think probably the most important thing [about Citizen Budget] was that this community is already used to doing, participating in setting the priorities of the council, and the budget, and the city administration [sic] … I think we are going to find a very receptive community that already knows how to do that” - Robert Nicolay, City Manager, Grande Prairie, Alberta
  • 14. More results - Tracked impact (qualitative) and tested (quantitative) theories held in the field, taking advantage of our large N-sample: What we tested: - Does existing democratic culture affect e-PB participation rates? - Does low participation lead to cities halting use of e-PB?
  • 15.
  • 16.
  • 17. Research Agenda - How can we use information on public consultations in Open Data? - How do we measure changes in trust in government and is this separate from trust in public consultations?
  • 18.
  • 19. Measuring trust ● Perceptions of trust are tied to understandings (and misunderstandings) of government roles ● Cultural attitudes ● Shaped by too many actors (Media, misinformation, etc)
  • 20. Other ways CB relates to Impact - Institutionalization - Low-tech, no high expertise - Easy to implement, fun for citizens - City official buy-in
  • 21. Counter-arguments - Top-Heavy approach - Will it translate to other contexts? - Cherry-picking impact?
  • 22. Questions & Answers Stay in Touch Website: www.opennorth.ca Email: info@opennorth.ca Twitter | FaceBook | GitHub | LinkedIn Merci | Thank You | Gracias

Editor's Notes

  1. Guided by our core values and strong track record in applied research, we enhance data standards, by cultivating multi-stakeholder partnerships and improving democracy. We use open data to promote government transparency and accountability while boosting the effectiveness of community social movements and initiatives.”
  2. In these 20 minutes or so, I will demonstrate how a “light-approach” to e-PB has had a impact in municipal policy making in the Canadian context. I will begin by taking discussing our approach to measuring impact focusing on evidence of change in bureaucratic culture and shifts in denizen engagement. Then I will move on to discussing this particular exercise and situate it within the larger Cic-Tech and online participation literature. After that, I’ll discuss some of the results in detail, keeping in mind our previous discussions of impact. Finally, I’ll spent some time discussing how we can advance the research agenda encompassed here.
  3. Here, highlight how valuable and important the research is. Include the fact that we are civ-tech, Open Data people doing online participation and e-PB too (ON value added). Shout out to the need for better analysis in the e-PB field. What is citizen budget?
  4. Citizen Budget pitch
  5. So what is meant by impact, anyways? Not just brute measures (ie: numbers of consultations filed), We’ve found evidence of impact even with relatively small numbers of consultations filed. Perceived feedback from citizens Yes and no, we have to be careful with perception, since in the case of PB expectations of direct democracy were absurdly high. Or policy outcomes Modern democracies don’t work this way. Transition to tangible vs. intangible outcomes.
  6. Both measurable, don’t be fooled by the intangible title Some of these require base measures, for example on “improved understanding of government” and increased trust in government Others we can find evidence of on official speeches and public pronouncements, reports and plans. Be ready to argue on trust and why that one is a tricky concept Also, trust vs. legitimacy in government (Edelman Trust Barometer)
  7. Morinville Deputy Mayor " Most notably, Deputy Mayor Dafoe passed a unanimous motion to defer any discussion on potential cuts (or any additions) in funding for the library or the festival society. Speaking to this motion, he felt it was important for council to consider the results of the Citizen Budget surveys before making any cuts to these groups, and to allow them to come forward with any additional information to support their requests." (Policy decision) Councillor Linda Bussay using citizen input to justify her vote on funding for the Frame Lake Trail in Yellowknife. (Reports and usage) Or the town of Parry Sound integrating online consultation through CB as part of their budgetary cycle and discussions with other reports to council (New processes)
  8. These are all public comments on public record. Highlight intangible outcomes. Give a background on what Grande Prairie is and why it is important, they’ve implemented CB a few times already. (Improved understanding of gov./Social learning) Technical literacy
  9. There are a lot of high expectations in PB/online participation tools that shouldn't have been there to begin with, like assuming that citizen input would directly lead to policy outcomes. Hence why there was a lot of disillusionment in PB when citizen saw their feedback and engagement didn't result in direct policy outcomes. Like in cases such as Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre However, our work with Citizen Budget and the research presented shows that there are tangible beneficial impacts, and that the field tended to measure the wrong thing or nor measure at all. Granted PB, nor Citizen Budget, are not the Aristotelian Democratic ideal of direct democracy that seems to be somewhat pervasive in the field, but there is still valuable impact that has been achieved.
  10. Our unit of analysis was cities, most studies focus on individuals, but we wanted to make broad claims about cities and their respective bureaucracies (This, in my opinion, has been lacking, in the field). Some switch to another outfit, whcih is fine. We tracked those who didn’t and saw that particiaption vaired and they didn’t care.
  11. Discuss democratic culture results, and some of the implications (with the caveat that implications is a bit more speculative) Implications If existing democratic culture doesn’t matter for implementation, then there is no precondition for implementing CB somewhere (then again, we are in Canada, a fairly strong democracy, and this might not apply to other contexts, where people might try to hijack the process, or infuse it with malicious interests (A risk with top-heavy approaches). Then again, it is such a light approach that it might fly under the radar. We just do not know yet.
  12. Participation numbers discussions, some have increased, some have decreased and some have stayed the same, but they all keep implementing CB year after year.
  13. We’ve seen some disillusionment in the field with online conversations. Follow through from gov is good, people in small towns just happy to have any input at all Mention France - make more data open Privacy and PCO (Talk to Peck) AIP2.0 Open Spending (Through GIFT; Open Knowledge)
  14. In collaboration with the Privy Council Office (PCO), the agency responsible for collating information across the Government of Canada in support if the Office of the Prime minister, Open North undertook a data analysis and data modeling project to turn qualitative feedback and comments gathered through consultation with the public into easier to analyse, actionable sets of data. Project outputs include documentation on data processing and analysis of consultation data, scripts and codes that automated the process, and best practices on structuring future consultation data.
  15. Cultural Attitudes (Ederman’s) Highlight immigration point (Everyone agrees that government is not trustworthy, but most agree it is doing a good job in most areas)
  16. Connect this to our Civ-Tech expertise, why is it having impact Institutionalization (As in Grande Prairie) Discuss buy-in? Bureaucrats are paying for a service, so they want to get the most out of it.
  17. Top-Heavy approach (Yes, most definitely) Have to watch out for issues of representation, etc. and as hinted before, being careful that this doesn’t get hijacked by interests (as it’s happened). It works within the existing power dynamics, but less disruptive Will a joint-gov-civ society initiative work? Will it translate to other contexts? Don’t know, it is voluntary by cities, they seek us out. This might be the case abroad too. Kenya is an interesting example as it is enshrined into law. Are we cherry-picking impact? No, tracking other forms of impact is important (but difficult after the fact), we just want to highlight often neglected measurements.