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Bonum Publicum

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Jelenleg 3 bejegyzés található Bonum Publicum cimkével

All information collected by the government should be open and available

    • beth noveck

Following the 2016 CEeGov Days, Beth Noveck, director of the Governance Lab gave an interview for the university magazine Bonum Publicum. Ms. Noveck was the United States deputy chief technology officer for open government and led President Obama's Open Government Initiative. Her interview can be found in the June issue.
 

It’s not quite typical for a woman to be deeply interested and involved with computer technology. When and how did the topic find you?

I am lucky enough to have been born during an age of great technological innovation. As a child, I was exposed very early to technology because my mother had a computer terminal in the house for following stock prices – a late-generation ticker-tape machine – and later, when she opened a travel agency, a dedicated terminal for checking flight availabilities. We bought the first-generation IBM PC and Apple MacIntosh and, of course, I was part of the first-generation of World Wide Web users in the early nineties. But more important than technology was an early interest in democratic institutions that came from studying history, especially European history, and the rise of fascism, totalitarianism and communism. It was natural to ask how the new technologies could be used to strengthen democratic institutions just as, for example, the new technology of the inexpensive paperback book advanced political awareness and understanding among young people in the 1920s.

How can governing bodies build on the power of ICT? Is online presence a must these days?

Institutions have always embraced new technology from radio to television and now the Internet to propagate their messages and further entrench their power. It is a commonplace today to know that it is not enough to write press releases for television without communicating via social media like Facebook and Twitter or even Medium. These are simply different venues and formats for broadcasting out. What is less well-understood and accepted is how to use ICT to get information in and foster a conversation between government and citizens designed to make institutions more effective and legitimate, such as when an agency, for example, solicits advice and expertise online or even mines social media to learn more about what people are feeling, saying and thinking about the institution’s performance.

How much do you think web 2.0 can engage older generations? What are the steps of involvement? Are social sites the only way to young voters?

To the contrary, I think it wrong to stereotype on the basis of age. I know lots of older people who are avid technology users and, more important, content producers with wisdom to share, if only we ask. Furthermore, we should not limit our thinking only to the electoral process where engagement is focused on getting people to vote or volunteer to promote the candidate. That’s such an anemic view of democratic life. And, in any case, before we know today’s younger generations are tomorrow’s older generations.

How much do you think campaigning have changed during the years?

Campaigning has become much more “scientized” as a result of big data with candidates and their campaigns using large scale open data sets, including voter registration rolls (where they are publicly available), demographic information and data available from public and private sources to target what issues they speak about where, where they spend money on advertising and what they focus on and where they target their get out the vote efforts. In addition, political parties are using the web and social media to engage party followers beyond the ballot box, including asking them to blog on the campaign website, share ideas and policy suggestions, and, in a new twist, share more about their skills and talents as Podemos is doing in Spain and Neos in Austria.

On what grounds can governments decide which pieces of information to give publicity and which shall be held back?

As a general rule, all information collected by the government should be open and available on the grounds both that taxpayers paid for its collection and because, in a democracy, the actions of government should be transparent. This includes information about the workings of government, such as the information about how government spends money on grants and contracts but also the information government collects about the economy, society, and the environment through its regulatory activities. Where possible, information should be collected and published in digital form and in raw form to enable re-use by third parties. This is what we refer to as open data. The impact of opening up government data is significant. It can help government work better, citizens make better choices, and new businesses get started. For more examples and detail, take a look at these case studies on the impact of open data at ODimpact.org. Some information that government holds, of course, contains personally identifiable information, which should not be openly published to safeguard personal privacy and civil liberties. There is also information, which should be restricted for national security reasons. But even in such cases, it is important for government to publicly share the information it has and collects. Only then can we have a public discussion about whether information should be published as open data or shared with limited parties (ie. giving your own information about your health care records back to you and your doctor) or classified. Above all, we need to know what information government has.

What are your personal beliefs, do you think the future is purely digital? Do you think a time will come when online presence will be a prerequisite of exercising basic democratic rights?

If by democratic rights, you mean voting, yes, in more countries we will move toward automatic voter registration and voting online. But, to me, the future is not about voting alone, which is too passive and limited. Rather, we will, I hope, use technology increasingly to contribute our skills, know how and expertise to help improve our own communities. Giving people outside as well as inside institutions opportunities to share their knowledge could save time, financial resources and even lives. Take the example of Dobrovoletz, which cataloged the skills of professional rescuers and certified volunteers (RosSoyuzSpas) to coordinate more effective response to floods in the far east of Russia in 2013. Or PulsePoint, a smartphone app created by the fire department of San Ramon, California. Now used by 1400 communities across the United States, PulsePoint matches those with a specific skill, namely CPR training, with dramatic results.

By tapping into a feed of the emergency calls, PulsePoint sends a text message “CPR Needed!” to those registered members of the public near the victim. Effective bystander CPR immediately administered can potentially double or triple the victim’s chance of survival. By augmenting traditional government first response, Pulsepoint’s matching has already activated almost ten thousand rescues.

Concrete examples like Dobrovoletz, where you register that you are a trained healthcare worker, or PulsePoint, where you register that you know CPR, are still few and far between. But they are evidence of the promise data-driven technology holds for invigorating the opportunity to participate in the life of our democracy beyond going to the ballot box. When a person responds to a targeted call to off-duty medical professionals to come to the aid of accident victim, she is participating in governance, even if only in a small way. This has nothing to do with support for partisan causes or candidates. It has everything to do with what it means to be a citizen in a contemporary democracy.

You have worked both in the USA and Great Britain. What differences do you see in the two countries relation to ICT and e-governance? Do you think there are best practices worth sharing?

Both countries have made great strides in three areas:

Personnel: Institutionalizing and Integrating Innovation - The creation of new positions like Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Scientist and new offices like a Government Digital Service in both countries that have helped to create a new culture of tech-enabled innovation. Both administrations have also recruited and attracted more tech-savvy personnel.

Policies: Creating the Legal and Policy Frameworks for Innovation - The enactment of far-reaching policies on open government, open data, open source, procurement innovation, and more have helped to create the legal framework for greater innovation.

Platforms: New Technologies to Make Innovation in Governance Real in Practice - Pronouncements and laws, by themselves, are not enough. Simply declaring a policy of open data is not as effective as standing up an open data portal where agencies can put and the public can search for open data. It is the combination of law, policy and technology that make the difference.

You have served along Obama and are familiar with the American system. What do you expect from the upcoming election?

I focus on what happens the day after the election. Regardless of who is elected, the legitimately selected candidate should be able to govern as well as possible and be able to take advantage of innovations in technology to improve how government solves problems and makes decisions. No matter who the candidate or the party, we all want a government that works. 


Text: Dorottya Petery
Photos: kepszerkesztoseg

 


Stipendium students have had their say

    • SH group photo

There are mainly two types of foreign students among NUPS’ own: those who participate in the Erasmus+ programme and those who come to our country with the aim of completing a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. Many from the latter hold a position with Stipendium Hungaricum, the scholarship provided by the Hungarian government. In the March issue of the magazine Bonum Publicum, a line of Stipendium students have been interviewed.

hong sungchul

Name: Hong Sungchul

Place of birth: South Korea

Educational background: Atmospheric Sciences BA, Yonsei University, Seoul; Public Policy MA, Konkuk University, Seoul

Spoken languages: Korean, English

What were your first impressions of Hungary?

This is my first time in the country. When I first took subway no.3, I felt really sad about the old, rusty station and the subway train. But after a while my feeling has changed as I realized that the public transportation system is better organized than the one we have in Korea – especially the tram network. By going around Budapest I have found lots of treasures to envy and Hungarians are really kind to me and my family.

Why did you choose to come to Hungary and what made you vote for the National University of Public Service?

I had many choices before I came here, but my wife insisted on Hungary being a perfect place to stay based on her travel experiences. Consequently, I chose the country as my base and having spent many years in the public sector, I thought that the National University of Public Service would fit my expectations as well as my future career.

What do you expect from the courses and what are your experiences by far?

I am happy about the fact that the lecturers are friendly and give us a chance to have our say regarding the lectures. I expect that this will improve my critical thinking.

What advice would you give to newcomers?

I would say be outgoing, especially if you are an Asian, while it is essential to be positive.

Is there some kind of a special knowledge you think you will acquire while being here?

We learn a lot about the European Union and other international organizations. This is completely new to me and I hope this knowledge will take my career from a national to an international level.

What do you think, with what kind of memories, experiences, pieces of knowledge, etc. will you return to your home country?

I came to Hungary with my wife and our 18-months old baby. During this programme, I try to devote myself both to my studies and their happiness, trying to forget about the complexities in South Korea. Once back, I expect to become a private marketer of Hungary, recommending a visit to everyone who shows interest.

Are you planning your life further abroad?

Living abroad is a special experience by which you can learn a lot. If I have a chance to study or work abroad once again, I will definitely take it, provided the circumstances will allow me to do so.

stefany cevallos

Name: Stefany Cevallos

Place of birth: Ecuador

Educational background: Sociology and Political Sciences Bsc, Social Development MSc, Catholic University, Quito

Spoken languages: Spanish, English, French

What were your first impressions of Hungary?

People are really friendly and many of them speak English. By far, I only have nice experiences and I love the country.

Why did you choose to come to Hungary and what made you vote for the National University of Public Service?

The principal reason is an agreement between the Hungarian and the Ecuadorian government. I am studying in Hungary with the Stipendium Hungaricum, similarly to students and professors spending their exchange time in Ecuador with the programme called Promoteo. I appreciate the strategic location of the country and the National University of Public Service has ranked high on the list of universities over here.

What do you expect from the courses and what are your experiences by far?

The courses are good and we have the best installations. I love the infrastructure of the university and the brand new Ludovika building. The student life is dynamic – we are always provided with options of travelling and going out.

What advice would you give to newcomers?

Studying in Budapest is an experience for those who believe that good people still exist in the world.

Is there some kind of a special knowledge you think you will acquire while being here?

I used to work for a national oil firm in Ecuador therefore the knowledge I gain here about public service in international relations will really come handy. Also, while I am here, I would like to take a violin class.

What do you think, with what kind of memories, experiences, pieces of knowledge, etc. will you return to your home country?

I will never forget the social harmony in which we live with my flatmates. The romantic scenery of Buda and Pest are also things I will hardly forget.

Are you planning your life further abroad?

I don’t really have plans for the future. When I finish here, I would like to go back to Ecuador.

tao shiyi

Name: Tao Shiyi

Place of birth: China

Educational background: English BA, Angkang University, Angkang

Spoken languages: Chinese, English, Korean

What were your first impressions of Hungary?

Hungary is really peaceful, compared to China, plus people are friendly and helpful. It is my first time over here and I am thinking of spending some time with travelling around. Budapest is a beautiful and lively city and frankly speaking, studying here is really enjoyable.

Why did you choose to come to Hungary and what made you vote for the National University of Public Service?

I went to the Shanghai World Expo and visited the Hungarian Pavilion in 2010. I saw an amazing exhibition of “Gömböc” and I got really interested in it. When I went home, I read some articles about Hungary and I realized that the only way of getting to know its culture is coming here. As for choosing NUPS, I have a plan of working in the public service and I would like to be an excellent civil servant. NUPS is a storehouse of knowledge and I would gladly share the things I learn here about with my Chinese friends.

What do you expect from the courses and what are your experiences by far?

I haven’t been here for long, but I have already learnt about a line of topics that I have not heard from at home, considering how I come from a different background. Human rights, for example, I find particularly useful. Regarding student life I must say that me and my friends are active and whenever I ran into a problem, either my mentor or my roommate helps me. I feel at home.

What advice would you give to newcomers?

I say they shouldn’t worry about the strange surroundings as teachers and students will help a lot. Adjusting to the new life is easy – the only thing they have to do is enjoying studying and harvesting the practical knowledge and good memories they gain.

Is there some kind of a special knowledge you think you will acquire while being here?

Firstly, the knowledge I build here regarding international public service relations will help me in my career. Secondly, I think I will advance in my personality the most. Originally I am diffident, but my time here helps to find new ways of communication and making friends with people. My cooperation skills will improve to a high level. Other than these, I plan to take Hungarian classes.

What do you think, with what kind of memories, experiences, pieces of knowledge, etc. will you return to your home country?

I will remember all the lively spots of Hungary besides the interesting events organized by the students.  I will never be able to erase the practical knowledge which accumulated and I will recommend NUPS to my friends in China.

Are you planning your life further abroad?

The most important thing for me is to work hard and graduate successfully next year. In the summer in the meanwhile I plan to travel around with a friend.

tamar pkhakadze

Name: Tamar Pkhakadze

Place of birth: Georgia

Educational background: Law BSc, Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi; International Relations MSc, Ilia State University, Tbilisi

Spoken languages: Georgian, English, Russian

What were your first impressions of Hungary?

My expectations were a bit different. To be honest, I was not expecting such a friendly and nice environment. People are nice and helpful, offering support all the time, thereby making tackling cultural differences and homesickness easier. Speaking about student life, it is also different. In my country 90% of the master degree students are working full time and it is very hard to be a good student when you have only a few hours free in the evening. Here student life is like it has to be: less stressful, allowing you to dedicate your full attention to your studies while enjoying being a student. I also have to mention that students in Hungary get more benefits than in my home country in general.

Why did you choose to come to Hungary and what made you vote for the National University of Public Service?

Many of my friends and colleagues have been studying in Hungary and I was aware of the quality of the education system. When I heard about the Stupendium Hungaricum scholarship I grabbed the opportunity. In the scholarship guide there was a list of universities and faculties from where we had to pick one. I chose the National University of Public Service because of its background and mainly because of its faculty offering courses that suit my interests. Having come here and already being a student, I realize how lucky I am.

What do you expect from the courses and what are your experiences by far?

NUPS is a great space for receiving high-level education and we have the possibility to meet people from all over the world, sharing our experiences.

What advice would you give to newcomers?

I would say that studying at NUPS is a really good choice because here you get everything you need: high-level education, high level infrastructure, a helpful and supportive staff and an amazing environment for international students.

Is there some kind of a special knowledge you think you will acquire while being here?

Studying and becoming a part of an international team is the biggest benefit for anyone studying abroad. Progression does not concern our knowledge and education only – it is a lifelong process.

What do you think, with what kind of memories, experiences, pieces of knowledge, etc. will you return to your home country?

I hope to return with great experiences, grown up as a professional, making use of the knowledge gained here using my skills to further my country.

Are you planning your life further abroad?

I might continue my studies on a higher level (PhD) and if I decide so, I will definitely do it somewhere abroad.

mukhwinder kaur

Name: Mukhwinder Kaur

Place of birth: India

Educational background: Defence Studies BA, Journalism and Mass Communication MA, Punjabi University, Patiala

Spoken languages: Hindi, Punjabi, Eglish

What were your first impressions of Hungary?

It is my first time in Europe. And even if I like to travel, the only thing that brought me here was my wish to study Military Journalism. Currently I am enrolled to a PhD programme offered by the Doctoral School of Military Sciences and the reason behind this is that I couldn’t do likewise back at home without becoming a solider. I come from a family with military background and I always had an interest in Military Sciences. Otherwise I think Hungary is relatively small compared to India, but I truly feel home at here.

 Why did you choose to come to Hungary and what made you vote for the National University of Public Service?

I was in the United States of America when I applied for this programme, but I saw its advertisement while I was still in India. As there were no chances for me to study Military Sciences in India, I applied, packed my bags and came here.

What do you expect from the courses and what are your experiences by far?

I like the way the professors teach here as they give space to absorb the information. The system of seminars is also of great interest to me. Considering my pursuits, the courses provided by NUPS are unique and useful for me. What I like most is when professors share their experiences about their missions in Afghanistan and many more. 

What advice would you give to newcomers?

I don’t have much to say to the newcomers as they have to find their own ways. All I can advise is to have an open heart for their passion and try to create a sense of learning at a new place. For that they have to unlearn their assumptions and create a vibrant atmosphere to absorb the knowledge and information the experts provide.

Is there some kind of a special knowledge you think you will acquire while being here?

Of course, one acquires special knowledge doing just anything that captures his interest, but Military Journalism is my passion. If I couldn’t deal with it here, I probably wouldn’t have come here to begin with.

What do you think, with what kind of memories, experiences, pieces of knowledge, etc. will you return to your home country?

That I have no idea yet, first I have to experience it first.

Are you planning your life further abroad?

No, I think my country needs experts in certain areas, but if I get an opportunity to study again at NUPS, I might want to stay in Hungary.


Interview with the Dutch ambassador

    • he gajus scheltema

With regards to the Ambassador’s Forum HE Hugo Gajus Scheltema, the Netherland’s Ambassador to Hungary has paid a visit to the Ludovika Campus earlier this year. While in his presentation he spoke about accountability and practices of good governance in the Netherlands, in an interview for Bonum Publicum he talked about Hungarians, his experiences about his stay and the rotating EU presidency.

Since 2013 you are the Netherlands’ Ambassador to Hungary, while earlier you have served in Vienna, Bratislava, New York and Islamabad, to name a few places. In what respect does Hungary differ from all the other places in which you have held a position? What are the main features of living in Hungary?

Each country has its own particularities. I wanted to come to Hungary as I have been at several posts in Central Europe and I like this part of the world. I believe that one of the best things that happened to the European Union was the enlargement process after the changes in 1989. As far as living here, I am pleasantly surprised by the development of foreign languages spoken in Hungary compared to the situation twenty years ago. A common language is the basis to understand each other. One may like it or not, English has become predominant in Europe. I feel at home in Budapest even though the differences with the Dutch society will remain.

Do you think it is possible to eliminate a “national character” without thinking in terms of clichés? How would you describe the Dutch and the Hungarian for those who know absolutely nothing about the said nations and countries?

So, what are those differences? I think the Dutch, with their maritime and colonial tradition, have always had a strong exposure to different cultures. We may have had the same “Habsburg” roots but our history went in a different direction. Our society has been shaped by post-war economic dynamics, rather than the Socialist capture of the society. Fifty years of Communism has been a heavy burden for Hungarians, but the changes since 1989 have been profound and moved Hungary rapidly and structurally towards European integration in all fields.

The Netherlands is one of the main investors of the Hungarian state. The two countries have lively business connections, e.g. Philip’s leading light R&D centre is located in Tamási. Tourist are frequent, meanwhile the area around Balaton is getting populated by Dutchmen. What do you think, what makes Hungary attractive and what could draw even more investors to Hungary?

Hungary offers space, a nice summer climate and very hospitable environment for Dutch tourists and investors. We have been investing in your country for twenty years, and this is continuing. I am actually quite proud of all these Dutch firms here on the market, such as Heineken, Philips, ING, AEGON, Unilever and many, many smaller ones. I was also happy to see that two Dutch farmers recently increased their landownership. As I keep telling decision-makers in Hungary, transparency, predictability and level playing field are main criteria for investment, next to more economic arguments such as location and costs of labour. Hungary is a central hub in Europe and must be seen as such by all.

According to Joseph Nye, “soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction,” whilst the currency of soft power is culture, political values and foreign policies. Looking at the 2015 global ranking, Netherlands is ranked 10-13th most powerful on different surveys. What do you think, what is the key? What would be the steps to take for Hungary to evolve?

I think these strengths are a combination of working mentality and matter-of-fact approach in society. We recognise a lot of that in Hungarians, which is one of the reasons why Hungary is attractive for the Dutch. As a Protestant, I of course claim this to be a mutual Protestant gene, but my Catholic wife does not accept this oversimplification at all...

The Dutch EU presidency sets out to tackle terrorism and radicalization in various forms. After the infamous Paris attacks, do you think political/governmental/secret service methods can be still effective in fighting extremism? What do you think about the effectiveness rate of certain “uproots” or even illegal bodies, e.g. Anonymous?

First of all, I am happy that Hungary has been spared the terrorist attacks by extreme ideology that we have seen in other countries, including the Netherlands. However, let us not fool ourselves. Terrorist attacks can happen anywhere and for any reason. Just think about Mexican beheadings or mass rape in India, or again our own recent European history. Atrocities are a horrible extremist behaviour of mankind, which history shows can happen anywhere, anytime, alas. So I do not have too many illusions about the possibility to stop terrorism with purely legal instruments.

The Dutch EU presidency programme places a great emphasis on education and its role in the reception and integration of migrants. Do you view integration as a question of how liberal/tolerant a host society is? Is the level of willingness to integrate shown by migrants taken into account at all?

Education is a cornerstone of every society, or at least it should be. If we accept refugees in our midst, they should of course profit from education and maybe even catch up through an extra educational investment. No society is served by second-class citizens. Hungary as much as the Netherlands has shown a great ability to cope with people from different cultures in the past. Our challenge is now to continue to do that even if the numbers of newcomers seem at first glance too high to handle.

The Netherlands’ presidency strives for transparency in decision-making. Can such be carried out without additional red tape?

This is a difficult question. Everyone knows that red tape is a dangerous side-effect of decision-making which involves bureaucracy. We have no panacea for this. However, we know that checks and balances in decision-making actually make decisions more acceptable for the whole society and therefore easier to implement.  I always use as an example the following: in the Netherlands, we have one of the highest direct income tax regimes in the world. In my own case, more than 50% of my salary goes to taxation. Still, the Netherlands always ranks in the top 10 of the world`s happiest nations. Why is this? Because the Dutch have a certain amount of trust in the way the government spends these taxes.

Another main priority of the Dutch presidency is innovation, growth, and the creation of jobs. What do you think, what is more useful from an EU perspective: letting workforce wonder around in search for fitting opportunities or trying to keep workforce in place? Can a free internal (job) market be realized?

One of the cornerstones of the European Union is of course free movement of labour. This is at present under pressure because of the mass migration and also because of the recent terrorist attacks. By the way, to link these two phenomena is a gross oversimplification. However, our common market depends on that internal mobility. What we would like to see however, and I know Hungary agrees with that, is that these workers have the same working conditions irrespective of where they come from. In other words, no exploitation of labour for the sake of cheap labour.


Text: Dorottya Pétery
Photos: Dénes Szilágyi