Since my inauguration as Seoul Mayor in October 2011, I have strived to create a new wind of innovation in the way Seoul Metropolitan Government carries out its affairs. The new style concentrates particularly on communication.
During my 21-month tenure, I’ve held on to the belief that municipal affairs need people’s participation, and that city officials should serve people based on the mindset that the people are their masters. I launched the Innovation Bureau, the first of its kind for a local government, to pour efforts into administrative innovation for the sake of the people. Toward that end, nothing is more important than communication, which requires readiness to listen.
I set up the Seoul Citizens’ Hall (Simin-cheong in Korean) in the basement of Seoul City Hall. The Chinese character for cheong in Simin-cheong means “to listen” instead of “the office” to emphasize that it is an office for listening. We at Seoul Metropolitan Government now listen to what people have to say first when formulating a new policy.
In a total of 46 sessions of listening to people’s opinions concerning municipal policy, 6,224 people have taken part. Likewise, in a total of 60 deliberation sessions of experts, 1,188 people have participated. Based on our experience, a couple of hours’ discussion usually yields a nice solution. That’s why we make it a rule to hold more than 100 sessions of discussions before formulating an important policy. In other words, we are putting the idea of deliberative democracy into practice. We also have a respectable citizen act as Seoul Mayor for one day. In addition, we operate a citizen ombudsman system to give people an opportunity to express their opinions on how the city is run.
I opened a Twitter account for smoother communication with the people in keeping with the era of smart technology. The number of my Twitter followers has exceeded 700,000. I encourage people to take part in Seoul City’s policy formulation through Twitter or Facebook. I believe we have many things to learn from individual citizens engaging in their areas of specialization. Collective, intelligence-based municipal administration is the very objective we are pursuing.
Communication with people through the social network service (SNS), such as Twitter and Facebook, enables us to carry out administrative affairs at the speed of light. The late night bus system started in April was based on an idea proposed on SNS. When the system was first operated, 50,000-plus positive opinions were posted on my Facebook, 3,353 pieces of remarks were made, and many people cited improvements to be made.
Seoul Metropolitan Government operates the Social Media Center, the first of its kind adopted by a metropolis. The center operates 44 SNS management systems. At least 98 percent of people’s complaints have been solved through the center for the past six months.
Seoul Metropolitan Government makes it a rule to disclose to the people all information related to municipal affairs. Information on a total of 5,765 cases was disclosed on request. Seoul Wiki introduces 2,700-plus policies carried out by the city, along with information on their background of promotion and budget. I call it a revolutionary step. We offer up to 100 million won as reward for citing a case of budget waste if such results in budget saving.
As a result of such efforts, Seoul Metropolitan Government received the UN Public Service Awards (UNPSA) 2013 in four sectors. Rank 1 was Fostering Participation in Public Policy Decision Making through Innovative Mechanism. As a focus of the Rank 1 Award, the Seoul Welfare Statndard was a result of a total of 162 meetings under a governance system wherein private and public sectors collaborate. Unlike others, it used a unique way of listening to people’s opinions, such as Online Bulletin Board, 1000-person Roundtable, Policy Workshop, Seoul Welfare Meari Corps, etc.
Seoul Metropolitan government is changing in this manner. We report to the people everything concerning municipal policies and their relevant budgets and discuss them with people. It is a silent revolution.
The innovation of Seoul Metropolitan Government focuses on people. We expect the new means of municipal administration to change people’s lives. We at Seoul Metropolitan Government will continue to strive to make the city a better place to live in.