About Cristian Botan
As a young scholar, working on his PhD at the National School for Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest, Christian Botan took up the task of starting a grass-roots revolution in Romania. While browsing the Romanian government website to gather information for his thesis on the relation between digital tools in transparency issues, Mr. Botan was amazed by the lack of transparency in job recruitment procedures for civil servants, and the overall tendency for maintaining practices commonly described as favouritism, nepotism, and even corruption.
His answer to the problem was setting up a simple, user-friendly website gathering all data on civil service in one place. As Mr. Botan writes on his homepage, he was swept away with people’s reaction: “The project skyrocketed. People not only started applying for jobs and thus creating real competition, but they also began to send me their stories about recruitment processes which were arranged to favour a particular candidate. That’s when I decided to take things forward.” Mr. Botan wrote an open letter to the prime minister, offering his support in resolving the transparency problem, which was quickly supported by the media. Teaming up with government officials in 2012, he went on to set up a string of government websites including jobs.gov.ru, data.gov.ro, internship.gov.ro, online.gov.ro, petitii.gov.ro, transparenta.gov.ro, and later established an internal body called the Department for Online Services and Design (taking inspiration from the UK’s Government Digital Service).
Mr. Botan was appointed an advisor within the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Romania on issues regarding transparency in public administration. He was recognized in the Social Entrepreneurs Initiative competition at the 15th International Corruption Conference that took place in Brazil in 2012 and was also among the Bright Spots of the 2013 Open Government Partnership in London.
Although his work has already introduced significant changes to the Romanian public sphere, Mr. Botan remains conscious of the task set upon him: I have to admit that at times advocating for open government standards such as transparency, accountability and participation in Romania seems like a mission destined for failure – but we’ve changed too much to stop now. Open government should not depend on what political party is in power, but rather on government’s constant requirement to improve services and engage those that it governs.