🙋 PO is an abbreviation of “Participation Officer (PO)” of the Inter-Ministerial Council of the Executive Yuan. Just like the “Congressional Liaison” responsible for coordinating with legislators, the “Media Contact” is responsible for communicating with the media. According to the “Directions for Implementing the Role of Participation Officers in the Executive Yuan and Subordinate Agencies”:
📲 “During the policy formulation and promotion process, each government agency shall give full consideration to transparency, participation, accountability, inclusion and other basic principles of open government. If complex stakeholder relationships, multiple differences of opinion or issues of intense public participation are involved, the PO shall assist the head of the agency concerned to assess in the initial stage of policy planning whether the agency should adopt an appropriate process upholding the principle of open government.”
🎨 To put it simply, the PO’s core function is to act as a bridge of communication between the government and the people through an open multi-stakeholder model. This also raises the biggest challenge because “open” means that the communication mode must be tailored to each case and cannot be restricted to a single method; whereas “multi-stakeholder” means that it is quite difficult to integrate and balance the opinions. Therefore, the biggest challenge of being a PO is working out how to design a sound mechanism to ensure that all parties listen to each other calmly.
📅 According to rules of the “Directions”, each ministry “shall designate at least one person of appropriate rank and full authorization to act as PO”. For this reason, since 2017, the beginning of each year has also been the time when a new PO reports for duty (whether the term is initial or renewed). Furthermore, with the expansion and deepening of the work of open government, more and more level three subordinate agencies of the ministries are also assigning special personnel to serve as POs. After all, when discussing multiple issues, having the division, department, bureau and station levels serve as windows can better reach the key points and shorten the communication process.
✍️ This year’s new PO has another task that is different from that of the past, namely, to assist its relevant ministry in planning the “National Action Plan” (NAP) of Open Government.
👩🏫 Under the leadership of Chen Mei-ling, Chairperson of the National Development Council, various ministries have taken stock of the five major issues of “maximizing open data value-added applications”, “expanding public participation in public policy mechanisms”, “increasing dialogue on gender and ethnic inclusion”, “implementing clean governance” and “implementing money laundering prevention”, and have invited public consultation on the “Join Public Speaking” platform. This demonstrates the determination for the continual promotion of open government and the will to actively participate in the international organization, Open Government Partnership (OGP).
🚸 Of course, the focus of opening up the government does not end with a unilateral commitment from the government. It also involves dialogue, mutual trust and cooperation between the government and the people.
👣 It is more important for the government and the people to take one step forward together rather than for either side to take two steps forward on their own.