Citizens' Voice: Communication & media for a more open government
As identified in the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Open Government, communication is a key element in promoting open government principles, as it strengthens transparency and integrity, and is a prerequisite for citizens to participate in public life and hold their government to account. In addition, evolutions in traditional media markets, the rise of social media, and the increasingly complex challenge of mis- and disinformation are changing how the government and citizens interact.
In the framework of the Transformation Partnership, and with the financial support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, the OECD has been accompanying countries in the MENA region since 2016 to promote strategic public communication that support open government principles. During phase I (2016 – 2018) of this cooperation, the OECD helped establish and train a network of public communicators at the national level in Morocco and strengthened the activities of the existing network in Tunisia. The project also produced analysis and recommendations on improving the role of communication at the national level in both countries. Phase II (2019 – 2021) scaled the remit of activities to Jordan and Lebanon, supported the implementation of key recommendations from phase I, and expanded the focus of activities at the local level in Morocco and Tunisia. It also sought the creation of a regional platform for policy dialogue and exchange, where all four beneficiary countries endorsed a Regional Charter on Public Communication during the high-level MENA-OECD Forum event on 30 March 2021.
Key Highlights from the Citizens' Voice Reviews
1. Public communication structures, processes, and mandates could be further institutionalised to help government entities engage with the public in more proactive and strategic ways. Ensuring the sound governance of this function through robust structures, available human and financial resources, as well as a coherent strategy with clear and measurable objectives will be key in this regard.
2. Professionalising core communication capabilities is needed to strengthen the translation of the strategic vision of communication into action. Overall, OECD survey results reveal that the skills and competencies most lacking include effectively deploying campaigns, tailoring messages and channels through insights gathered from different audiences and evaluating the impact of activities.
3. Digital communication could be further leveraged as a two-way dialogue mechanisms to promote a more proactive and transparent sharing of information, as well as new spaces for stakeholders to participate in public life. Special attention should be payed to ensuring that these tools aid in amplifying the reach and inclusiveness of all voices, in particular those from traditionally underrepresented groups in policymaking.
4. While much has been achieved through the restructuring of public communication in MENA, evidence suggests that this function remains underutilised as an instrument for openness and policy-making. In fact, less than one-third of line-ministries in each country consider promoting participation as a priority objective of their communication strategy.
Each of the “Citizen’s Voice” reports and scans on Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia offer more detail on the key findings and recommendations at both national and local level.
Key outcomes in Phase I and Phase II
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