A well informed, educated and engaged citizenry is the key to good governance.
This statement is at the heart of ORG initiatives geared at empowering citizens to get informed and get involved. If the people of The Bahamas want to embrace their opportunity to unite toward a brighter future, it will require every citizen to adopt the notion that nation-building is a group project.
According to The United National Public Administration Network, the involvement of citizens in a wide range of policymaking activities can orient government programs toward community needs, build public support, and encourage a sense of cohesiveness within neighborhoods.
While we count on leaders to create spaces where the voices of every Bahamian can be heard, it’s equally important to give attention to the perception of the citizens. Citizens must see themselves as agents of change, even in spaces where they feel their voices have been traditionally unheard. They must seek out and strengthen existing opportunities to add their input to national dialogues, while finding ways to create new ones. The goal is to become Active Citizens.
The question is often asked “If this hasn’t been seen before, what can be done?” The answer, while not simple, lies in the collective strides taken by the Bahamian people. ORG has positioned itself to contribute to the citizen’s and government’s ability to collaborate through three tools on our Citizen’s Solution Center that you should know and use as an active citizen.
- The Citizen’s Charter is a pilot project that any citizen can get involved in! It explores the use of a tool that allows the government to make commitments to citizens to provide more equitable, responsive and efficient services. The key is that tools such as surveys, town halls and focus groups are used regularly to get feedback from citizens before decisions are made by the government.
- Access Parliament is ORG’s tool to help you follow what is happening live in parliamentary sessions (the House of Assembly & Senate). Keeping up-to-date with this is key to knowing what decisions are being made by your leaders.
- The Policy Review Center is yet another online tool that gives citizens access to bills and policies either being debated by the government or that are in need of input from the public. Feedback is amalgamated and passed onto the relevant government representatives to ensure the citizen’s voice is included in the policymaking process.
While ORG encourages daily acts of citizenship - which are the small things citizens do every day to work toward a brighter future - these tools can ensure that Bahamian citizens are actively engaged! To get informed you can contact [email protected]
ORG regularly advocates for governance services that are transparent and responsive to the needs and interests of citizens. The Digitization of government processes is a common recommendation made by citizens on improving everyday public services. Across the world digitization is being used to transform government operations by increasing the productivity and timeliness of public services; improving intergovernmental communication; streamlining information management and providing secure means of conducting business. With this built capacity, the government is better positioned to serve citizens and carry out its daily operations.
Arguably one of the most important benefits of digitization is its tremendous value to the citizenry. Digital processes can shorten wait times and streamline government services, like requests for important documents. It also creates pathways for the government to collect citizen feedback on service and input on decision making processes, thus becoming a tool that operationalizes citizen engagement.
Digitization paves the road for good governance as it can improve transparency, efficiency, effectiveness, and access to information. It is a process that focuses on transforming operations, data and information into digital formats that are comprehensive, user-friendly and secure. It is known to be both a great challenge and opportunity for governments across the Caribbean. Prioritizing digitization is particularly pivotal for governance in The Bahamas, as it strengthens government operations and builds collaboration and participation among citizens.
ORG’s Citizen Charter project conducted a series of surveys that gathered input from citizens on several government agencies that were pertinent to sustaining and improving Bahamian livelihoods and this recommendation was among the most recurrent of suggestions made by nearly 1,200 survey respondents. ORG’s Citizen Charter is one of many applications of digitization with the potential to improve how people interact with the government daily.
Digital tools, such as the Charter, strengthen the relationship between citizens and government and improve public trust. With a greater measure of public trust, the government and citizens can all work together to improve the quality of life, and ease of doing business for Bahamians.
Implementing digital systems is a progressive process, but there are several standards that must be factored in to ensure that it is successful. Comprehensive budgeting is the first and it ensures that the cost of all aspects of the project including technology, maintenance, personnel, training and public education are considered. A second factor is widespread stakeholder engagement and public consultation. This ensures that any system that is developed meets the needs of all parties involved, thus creating a landscape that is responsive to the needs of the Bahamian people and the public service.
All in all, a brighter future for The Bahamas will be one in which digital transformation is fully embraced as a pertinent aspect of future developments.
For more information, email [email protected].