Citizens’ Oversight Committee
2017 - Currently it remains in force
The whole territory
The main goal of the experience is “to connect different participation tools within the “ecosystem” of participatory democracy”. This is an interactive platform that connects with different citizen participation tools within a single ecosystem of participatory democracy. COLIBRÍ groups together in a single place the commitments agreed by public organisations and citizens in different organised and non-organised citizens’ participation spaces.
The platform adopted the name COLIBRÍ (hummingbird) because there is a popular belief in Bogotá/Colombia according to which “when a hummingbird appears a promise is fulfilled”. This is the goal that the platform wants to achieve, that every commitment registered in it be a fulfilled promise to citizens.
According to Latinobarómetro (2018), only 22% of citizens in Latin America have trust in the public institutions. Countries such as Brazil (7%), El Salvador (10%), Peru (13%), Guatemala (15%) and Mexico (16%) register the lowest levels of institutional confidence. Colombia, for its part, stands at the average of the countries of Latin America (22%), facing a very big challenge in the strengthening of citizen confidence in the state institutions. This challenge, within the context of a city such as Bogotá, increases when 86% of citizens consider that over half of public servants are corrupt and only 15% trust the city’s government (Corpovisionarios, 2018).
In this sense, the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee with the aim of helping to overcome the challenges that the city has against the low levels of institutional trust and non-fulfilment of commitments that public institutions and citizens agree in spaces for participation, designed and implemented a methodology to carry out monitoring of the commitments that communities and public agencies establish in spaces for citizen participation, whose goal is to strengthen access to public information, ongoing accountability and social control in the city.
Within the methodology designed by the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee, is the interactive platform for the monitoring of commitments between citizens and public agencies called “COLIBRÍ”, which is an instrument that administrates and monitors the commitments agreed by public agencies and citizens. This is an interactive platform that connects different citizen participation tools within a single ecosystem of participatory democracy. COLIBRÍ groups together in a single place the commitments agreed by public organisations and citizens in different organised and non-organised citizens’ participation spaces.
Within the COLIBRÍ platform all the citizens and all the public agencies interested can consult the commitments that are being generated in the city. These commitments can be checked by simple filters such as the name of the organisation, government sector, issues, specific geo-referenced points in Bogotá.
The platform also manages to process the information on all the commitments agreed in the city and generates data related with the behaviour of the fulfilment of the commitments agreed by the government.
The application of the interactive platform for the monitoring of commitments between citizens and public agencies COLIBRÍ has reached its main goal insofar as it has achieved:
The application of the platform in over 35 regulated and non-regulated spaces for citizen participation connecting, in a diverse ecosystem, various ways of participating and generating proposals for change to specific problems in the public management of the city.
The signing up of 460 commitments, of which 169 have been fulfilled on the dates established between citizens and public agencies.
The active participation of over 900 citizens.
The participation of over 40 public agencies in the city.
The management of social disputes in issues of security, environment, education, health, infrastructure, mobility and public space, among others.
Free and democratic access of the platform.
Access to public information, the promotion of transparency in the management of public agencies and ongoing and real-time accountability.
Generate knowledge related with: 1) the dynamics of citizen participation in the city; 2) the issues that according to citizens require changes in the city; 3) the territorial concentration of commitments agreed between citizens and public agencies; and 4) the behaviour of the fulfilment of commitments by the public agencies.
Experience enables monitoring of commitments in real time to be carried out. The COLIBRÍ platform enables communities and public organisations to carry out monitoring in real time of the commitments that are agreed in citizen participation spaces, making possible effectiveness in social control and the public decision-making of Bogotá.
Citizenship and public agencies can conduct searches of commitments by government sector, public agency responsible, participation space in which the commitment is agreed, by recurring problem issues identified in the city and by locality.
Experience optimises effectiveness in interinstitutional coordination. The platform enables the generation of spaces of synergy, collaboration and inter-institutional coordination in the city’s government to respond to needs and to the solving of problem issues.
The experience enables the management of social disputes. Through the issuing of alerts in case of possible risks of non-fulfilment of the commitments by the public agencies, the platform enables actions to be generated geared towards preventing such disputes becoming conflicts of greater magnitude.
The experience makes possible the geo-referencing of the commitments. Through the characterising and locating of the commitments, the COLIBRÍ platform enables these to be geo-referenced, facilitating the analysis of the concentration of issues and localities in a territory.
In this case, COLIBRÍ enables citizens to identify the exact location of the commitments that the public agencies are agreeing with communities in the city. In the same way, the government of the city and the public agencies can identify the concentration of actions that are being implemented in a territory to attend to disputes or problems, as well as identify the areas of the city where not actions are being established, or the commitments agreed with the communities are not being fulfilled.
The experience materialises the application of ITC for development. Through the COLIBRÍ platform the public agencies can upload the information with the fulfilment of the commitments agreed with the communities. This information is sent automatically to electronic mails of those citizens involved in subscribing to the commitments, with the aim of them making comments to the information supplied by the public agencies. This technological development enables alerts to be generated against non-fulfilments in the terms agreed between public agencies and communities, as well as possible inconsistencies in the implementation of a public policy.
The experience is unique in the countries of Ibero-America. For the first time, a city of Ibero-America has a practical tool for participatory democracy that enables citizens and public agencies to carry out the monitoring of the commitments that are established in spaces for citizen participation.
The COLIBRÍ platform is transferable to other cities, territories and organisations with many possibilities for success sin its application due to the following elements:
The COLIBRÍ platform forms part of a methodology that is developed through five steps: 1) Characterisation of the problem; 2) Formation of the working table; 3) Definition of commitments 4) Selection and application of the monitoring instrument; and 5) Balance of the fulfilment of commitments. These steps are self-contained. In other words, they are composed of explicit, simple and very intuitive tools that facilitate their use.
The COLIBRÍ platform is adaptable and scalable to another city, district or even to a territorial level of a greater magnitude. Does not depend on a Colombian legislation for its application.
The application of the COLIBRÍ platform can be carried out with a small team of approximately 4 people.
Any city, territory or organisation interested in accessing the information to transfer the knowledge of the COLIBRÍ platform must take into account the following elements:
The District Citizens’ Oversight Committee has the willingness to transfer the knowledge, provide the technical support and the assistance considered pertinent for its implementation.
The District Citizens’ Oversight Committee has documents that include the process for application of the COLIBRÍ platform where the main achievements, challenges and improvements that should be taken into account are registered to achieve the success of the transfer.
The platform is constructed on open data, which enables easy transfer.
As the platform is already designed in its complete version it represents an important point of reference in which any institution can access the website and explore the categories, issues, levels of institutions and spaces for citizen participation alike that can be replicated in any interested territory, city or country.
For further information consult: colibri.veeduriadistrital.gov.co
From the design of the COLIBRÍ platform the following elements were taken into account:
Technical context: The design of the platform included a “benchmark” of citizen participation experiences in cities in Ibero-America for the purpose of reviewing aspects that should be replicable and those that should not be repeated by the platform to achieve the purpose of connecting different tools for participation within an “ecosystem” of participatory democracy.
Organisational context: The COLIBRÍ platform was designed to be applied by the different citizen participation spaces, where direct interlocution of citizens exists with the public agencies of the city. It can be applied in a non-regulated citizen participation space made up of a small group of citizens, or also by a regulated space for citizen participation made up of a broad number of members.
Socio-political context: The COLIBRÍ platform was designed to be dynamic and open to generating changes depending on the behaviour of the citizens’ space for participation where it is applied.
The experience was articulated with different simultaneous and pre-existing actors and processes. This articulation was developed as follows:
Internal articulation in the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee: The design and application of the COLIBRÍ platform was articulated with other interactive platforms for preventive control and of monitoring of the public management of the city existing in the organisation.
Articulation with government actors: For the application of the COLIBRÍ platform has been fundamental for the articulation with public agencies of the city, who have seen in it a tool for public management and a space for permanent accountability. All of the District agencies have at least one commitment registered with the platform.
Articulation with existing processes: The COLIBRÍ platform was designed as a solution to a process of systematisation and monitoring of the commitments established between public agencies and citizens carried out by the District Citizens’ Accountability Committee. This platform was converted into an experience through which all the agencies in the District took it as a reference point for managing, systematising, monitoring and generating balance of the commitments that they agree with citizens.
Citizens involved in the process of subscribing to commitments: the citizens involved in the process of subscribing to commitments with the public agencies of Bogotá took on the responsibility of performing monitoring of the commitments in a voluntary, informed and permanent way.
Depending on the citizen participation space one person took on the role of spokesperson for citizens. In cases where a large number of people exist, the process of dialogue with public agencies was led by a community representative, which facilitated communication channels with the public agencies.
Public agencies responsible for fulfilling commitments: during the citizen participation spaces where commitments were subscribed, there was the presence of one or several agencies competent in attending to citizens’ demands. In cases where more than one public agency participated, one institution was charged with leading the subscribing of the commitments with citizens.
District Citizens’ Oversight Committee: The organisation that provided ongoing technical assistance and accompaniment to citizens was the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee, facilitating the dialogue that took place between the citizens and public agencies. Its main goal during the spaces for participation was guaranteeing that people could speak and intervening in cases in which the working table became distracted from the fundamental objective which was the subscription of commitments. The position of the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee was that of guarantor or mediator of the process.
What mechanisms for evaluation and accountability were used?
Dissemination of the COLIBRÍ platform: The District Citizens’ Oversight Committee has designed a platform dissemination strategy aimed at public organisations and citizens. This strategy has two components. The first, a component of socialisation that has as its purpose the generating of spaces so that many agencies, social organisations, educational institutions, private companies and the greatest number of citizens are aware of the advantages of the COLIBRÍ platform. The second component is associated with training sessions aimed at public agencies and citizenship with the aim of generating tools and practical knowledge on the use of the platform related with the reviewing of information, the set of commitments and the updating of information.
Return to citizens once a process of monitoring of commitments on the COLIBRÍ platform has been completed: when a process of monitoring of commitments established between citizens and public agencies culminates, a space is created for feedback on the process where aspects for improvement of the platform and the methodology for monitoring of commitments are included.
Evaluation of the application of the COLIBRÍ platform: The application of the experience has had a positive effect if analysed in cost-benefit terms. The cost of the design and application of the platform is lower if compared with the numerous benefits that the experience has meant for communities, public agencies and the District Citizens’ Oversight Committee of Bogotá.
With the application of COLIBRÍ, the communities have ensured that the public agencies have generated solutions for historical and circumstantial problems affecting their territory. For their part, over 40 public agencies have managed to improve their internal coordination with other institutions to generate actions aimed at solving problem issues for the city.
The COLIBRÍ platform is in its very design an instrument for ongoing accountability: through the platform, citizens can review the actions carried out by the public agencies to ensure fulfilment of commitments agreed with the communities. This information registered by the public agencies receives ongoing comments and feedback from citizens.