How can we give back credibility to the word “public”?
First of all, promoting the active involvement of citizens, companies and stakeholders of the public sector. We often forget we are not only the ones who should benefit from the public sector, but also stakeholders, because we are the ones who provide financial support through the payment of taxes. Therefore, we have the right to know how a Public Institution – i.e. our Municipality or our Region – operates. That is what Accountability means.
Being accountable is not enough, a Public Institution also needs to be transparent. “Transparency” is another word which has lost its meaning, a very important one. Today, Transparency in Public Administrations seems to be restricted to the accessibility provided to data, which most of the times are not matching, not updated, incomparable, in other words useless.
Instead, Transparency should be a fundamental instrument for the evaluation of the public sector. Citizens should be aware not only of how much their municipality spends, but also of how and to do what, even a euro not spent for the interests of the community is a waste to be cut.
The evaluation of Public Institutions is a smart and innovative instrument to improve the public sector, since the ones who evaluate must be citizens and companies, Fondazione Etica has created an instrument to do so: the Public Rating. What is its aim? Not to give marks, but to help spend better our money: it is an instrument of social innovation.
As final users and stakeholders of public revenues, we should demand to better spend our money and to cut the waste of it, if there is.
The Rating is also an instrument of social inclusion, in fact, citizens have an active part in the evaluation. “Civic engagement” is another definition we need to renovate. The role of citizen in an evaluation should not be to flag with an emoticon the quality of public services.
On the contrary, the Rating of a PA represents a more involving instrument of evaluation since citizens are asked to give their support sending documents, videos, and photos about what happens daily in a public structure. An instrument of social participation which can be defined as a sort of TripAdvisor of the PAs.