A combined Open311/Participatory Budgeting initiative is successfully moving forward in the Dominican Republic. The World Bank Institute's ICT4Gov Program is using ICTs to strengthen Open Budget initiatives at the local level by budgetary transparency and the facilitation of citizen participation in the budgeting process. To implement this project the World Bank is in close collaboration with the Presidential Office for ICTs (OPTIC), the National Federation of Dominican Municipalities (FEDOMU), and the local governments of the first two pilot sites, Jarabacoa and Baní.
The ICT4Gov Program believes that existing call center infrastructure can serve to open channels of communication for citizens to provide feedback to the government on the state of public service delivery. This initiative is linked to OPTIC's National Information Line *467 (*GOB). The call center managing that line receives over 15,000 calls a day.
When citizens call *467 they not only receive the information for which they have called but they are also given the opportunity to suggest and comment on public services. This information feeds a web-based platform in which citizens and participatory budgeting delegates (those citizens who follow up the implementation process) can check for the status, costs and other relevant information of public works in their area.
Users can also contact the Participatory Budget delegates in their area to ask for questions or request for public services or works for their city. If the city can follow up with the request automatically, the citizen is notified via SMS. Otherwise, the request is submitted to deliberation in the participatory budgeting process.
This ICT4Gov initiative seeks to allow citizens to:
This initiative is based on Open311 standards and principles, whereby interactions via phone services function as an entry point to citizen participation. As this, through standardized technology for location-based and collaborative issue tracking, it provides multiple channels of interaction concerning public service delivery.
Mobile phones serve to successfully link the Open311 component of the initiative with the Participatory Budgeting component of it. The application of mobile phones makes Open311 and Participatory Budgeting processes more inclusive and more transparent.
By increasing citizen participation and by opening channels of communication between citizens and their government, this initiative leads to more trust between citizens and government, and ultimately to more effective public service delivery.