Meeting with Private Sector Representatives

Members of the Working Group on Strengthening Efficiency and Transparency and Promoting Innovative Technologies under the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance met with private sector representatives. The purpose of the meeting was to receive feedback from and deepen cooperation with the private sector. The meeting was organized with support from the EUvand UNDP Georgia, in cooperation with IDFI.

The meeting was opened by Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance. Pruidze spoke about Georgia’s achievements in terms of legislative openness and the future plans of the Parliament of Georgia in this regard. She also highlighted the commitments under the Open Parliament Action Plan for 2018-2019, which aim to institutionalize the involvement of the private sector in parliamentary processes.

“The goal of our working group is to support the openness of the Parliament through dialogue with the private sector and to create formats for better communication with the private sector and its involvement in parliamentary processes and decision-making”, – Irina Pruidze.

“Much of the legislation adopted by the Parliament effects the private sector; because of this, based on the initiative of the American Chamber of Commerce, private sector related commitments were included in the open parliamentary action plan”, – Tamar Chugoshvili, First Deputy Chairperson of Parliament and Head of the Working Group on Strengthening Efficiency and Transparency and Promoting Innovative Technologies.

“The 3rd Open Parliament Action Plan includes a commitment to create a registry of stakeholders to be published on the Parliament website in order to ensure their involvement in legislative processes. This meeting is a good opportunity to build cooperation that will enable you to have more information and us to take your opinions into consideration”, – Tamar Chugoshvili. Another commitment in the action plan envisions creating a registry of lobbyist organizations that will be published on the Parliament website.

Meeting participants had a chance to offered their feedback. Members of the Permanent Council on Open Governance and private sector representatives agreed that cooperation would continue and that similar meetings will be held in the future as well.

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Council and its Consultative Group Members Discussed Implementation of the Commitments under the 3rd OPAP

Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance and its Advisory Group discussed the implementation of the commitments under the third Open Parliament Action Plan. The meeting was held with support from the European Union (EU) and UNDP Georgia in cooperation with IDFI.

Participants were welcomed by Irina Pruidze – Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance, Sophie Huet-Guerriche – Governance Sector Coordinator at the EU Delegation to Georgia, Gigi Bregadze – UNDP Democratic Governance Team Leader, and Giorgi Kldiashvili – IDFI’s Executive Director.

“We actively started implementation of the new action plan. We have set up 4 working groups, which have already undertaken their activities. Today, we discussed two strategic documents that IDFI developed: draft Communication Strategy & Action Plan of the Council as well as the draft Social Media Communication Concept of the Parliament of Georgia”, – Irina Pruidze noted.

Chair of the Legal Issues Committee Eka Beselia spoke about the activities of the Working Group on creation of the Civic Engagement Center in the Parliament of Georgia.

“Creation of the Civic Engagement Center is an important reform and a new conceptual vision that can make the Parliament more attractive for citizens”, – Eka Beselia stated. According to Beselia, the Center tasked with an complex task and it needs to meet new challenges and satisfy new standards. Eka Beselia also spoke about the problems that were identified through the analysis of existing practice, and presented planned solutions.

Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance & its Consultative Group members also discussed the draft Communication Strategy & Action Plan of the Council as well as the draft Social Media Communication Concept of the Parliament of Georgia presented by IDFI’s Communications Manager Meri Makharashvili.

Implementation of the strategy documents prepared by IDFI with the support from European Union in Georgia & UNDP Georgia should increase civic participation in legislative activities, promote new technologies & innovative approaches of the Parliament to ensure parliamentary openness, as well as increase public awareness about utilizing these technologies.

The elaboration of both documents was part of the 2018-2019 Open Parliament Action Plan [5.1. & 5.4] to be implemented in 2019-2020.

See photos of the event here.

OGP Global Summit in Georgia

On July 17-19, the fifth Summit of Open Government Partnership (OGP) took place in Tbilisi. The Summit was opened with the Parliamentary Day that was hosted by the Parliament of Georgia.

On July 17, parallel to the Parliamentary Day, within the scope of the OGP Summit, Civil Society Day was held, where civil society representatives working on open governance gathered. The meeting was opened by Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and Keti Khutsishvili, Executive Director of Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).

Giorgi Kldiashvili discussed achievements as well as existing challenges of Georgia within the framework of Open Government Partnership (OGP). He mentioned that since the first day of Georgia joining OGP, civil society, in cooperation with the Government of Georgia, was actively involved in implementing the fundamental principles of OGP. However, according to Kldiashvili, civil society faced a number of problems and challenges from the Government, which is a problem and a challenge not only for Georgia, but for many countries around the world. Giorgi Kldiashvili also stated that the co-creation process between the Government of Georgia and civil society representatives continues and it is crucial to follow up these efforts with real and ambitious results. He stressed the necessity of legislative reforms in relation to freedom of information and declared it as the main challenge.

The meeting continued with the speech of Paul Maassen, Director for Civil Society Engagementat OGP. He presented the results of the civil society poll conducted in 2016-2018. Experiences of the OGP member states in the last 6 years were also discussed and future priorities of the Partnership were defined.

On July 18, at the Tbilisi Concert Hall, the opening ceremony of Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit was held. The ceremony was opened by Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, Sanjay Pradhan, Executive Director of Open Government Partnership (OGP) and Mukelani Dimba, Co-Chair of the Civil Society of Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of IDFI together with the President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister of Kyrgyz Republic Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev,  Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić and Open Government Partnership Ambassador/Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark participated in the Session – Open Government Partnership’s Promise of Governments Better Serving Citizens.

“Since the very first day of establishment of OGP, we see this initiative as a mechanism that gives us an opportunity to implement initiatives in relation to accountability, transparency, citizen involvement and their provision with better services. By means of OGP, necessary platform for dialogue between the civil society representatives and the Government of Georgia was created. Dialogue and cooperation with the Government may be considered as the biggest achievement of our country and it is logical that as a result of it Georgia was elected as a Chair of OGP. In terms of providing services to citizens, I would like to draw attention to the introduction of Public Service Halls, which was a commitment within the National Action Plan of Georgia. Reforms implemented in terms of corruption elimination are also noteworthy, more specifically – elaboration of a monitoring system of assets disclosed by public officials. I believe that the aforementioned commitments and reforms were directly oriented towards citizens’ interests. When talking about challenges, it is noteworthy that in most cases the Government is not able to define the needs and wishes of citizens and the vivid example of this are the reforms that I have discussed – the ones that in most cases were elaborated by civil society and then submitted to the Government. In contrast, commitments that were elaborated directly by state institutions are often less relevant and do not correspond to the needs and expectations of citizens,” – Giorgi Kldiashvili. (video of his speech) 

In the final part of the opening ceremony of the OGP Summit new members of the Partnership were presented. Governments of Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, and Morocco, Portugal and Senegal and local governments of Spain, Romania, Nigeria, Columbia and Philippines joined the initiative.

On July 18, the OGP Global Summit continued with sessions focusing on various topics. Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of IDFI, participated in the session named – Impact, Opportunities, and Challenges for Open Government and OGP in the Eastern Partnership. The aim of this session was to explore ways in which open government approaches can help in achieving the ambition for stronger governance, economies, societies and connectivity in the Eastern Partnership member states.

“The anticorruption system that currently exists in Georgia, does not work well in practice – it does not stop high-level corruption. The Open Government Action Plan elaborated by the Government of Georgia does not include ambitious commitments, especially in the anti-corruption direction. IDFI and its partner organizations demanded creation of an independent anti-corruption agency, however, unfortunately, this demand was not included in the Action Plan,” – Giorgi Kldiashvili.

On July 19, during the closing day of the OGP Summit, Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance, Maria Baron, Global Executive Director of Fundación Directorio Legislativo, Blanca Ovelar, Senator of the Senates Chamber of Paraguay, Alyona Ivanivna Shkrum, Member of Parliament of Ukraine, and Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of IDFI, participated in the session – How 4 Open Government Partnership Commitments Have Transformed the Relationship between Parliaments & Citizens.

The aim of this session was to share experiences of Argentina, Georgia, Paraguay and Ukraine in relation to ensuring citizen involvement. Irina Pruidze and Giorgi Kldiashvili discussed Action Plans elaborated by the Parliament of Georgia, as well as the commitments that aimed to ensure citizen involvement.  On July 19, attention was paid to topics, such as Georgia becoming a Chair of OGP.

At the session titled – What has led Georgia to OGP chairmanship – Natia Natsvlishvili, Assistant Resident Representative at United Nations Development Programme Georgia, Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of IDFI, Brock Bierman, Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia at United States Agency for International Development and Tea Tsulukiani, Minister of Justice of Georgia, discussed the reforms carried out by Georgia within the framework of OGP, future plans, and shared the experience of Georgia in implementing the fundamental principles of OGP.

“First of all, I would like to mention that implementation of OGP principles in Georgia is carried out as a result of cooperation between the Government and non-governmental sector. This is the main feature that distinguishes Georgia from other states participating in the initiative. Georgia deserved chairmanship of OGP and holding the summit in Tbilisi is an unambiguous result of our country’s success,” – Giorgi Kldiashvili.

The IDFI held its own session at the Summit. During the session, Giorgi Lomtadze, Head of Research Direction, discussed how public procurement can be transformed into an effective instrument for making governments more accountable, transparent, fair and efficient and how CSOs and governments can collaborate on enhancing public procurement practices.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also in focus at the Summit. Saba Buadze, Head of Analytical Direction at IDFI, participated in the session – Innovative Partnerships for SDG 16 Data for Strengthened Monitoring & Implementation. During the session, he discussed achievements and challenges of Georgia in implementation of SDGs.

“With the support of UNDP, together with El Salvador, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Tunisia and Uruguay, Georgia had an opportunity to participate in a global pilot project to monitor the implementation of SDG 16 – peaceful, just and inclusive societies. It was also a unique opportunity for the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), the organization that I am representing here today, to be actively involved in this process as a partner NGO to the Administration of Government of Georgia. The Government of Georgia had expressed its readiness to move forward with the Agenda 2030 even before joining the initiative, with SDG 16 declared a priority. However, since this process started in 2016, very little has been done in terms of translating the Goals into the national system,” – Saba Buadze.

The Fifth Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Georgia Opened with a Discussion on Legislative Openness

World parliaments are seeking new ways in achieving openness, transparency and accountability. A day ahead of the Global Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in Georgia, the Parliament of Georgia hosted a high level international discussion on legislative openness.

Bringing together over 200 participants from 12 parliaments and 24 countries, the Open Parliament Day focused on the reforms needed to achieve legislative openness and the role of technology and innovation.

The Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze, kicked off a debate stressing the critical importance of legislative openness in democracy and highlighting Georgia’s achievements on the way to Open Parliament.

This was followed by a video message of Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and welcome remarks from Senator Blanca Ovelar, President of the ParlAmericas Open Parliament Network, and Sanjay Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Helen Clark, formerly the Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999 – 2008) and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (2009 – 2017), joined the event in her capacity of the OGP Ambassador.

The panel discussions were moderated by Niels Scott, UNDP Head in Georgia; Mukelani Dimba, OGP Steering Committee Co-Chair from Civil Society; and Laura Thornton, Senior Resident Director/Global Associate of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Georgia. Katarina Mathernova, Deputy Director General at the European Commission, joined the last part of the event.

The Open Parliament Day tackled a range of issues related to the legislative transparency and accountability. The participants considered different ways of engaging citizens in parliamentary work, including participatory law-making (crowdlaw) and innovative technological solutions. Levan Avalishvili, Programs Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) spoke about the e-services the Parliament of Georgia has introduced with the support from the international and local civil society partners.

Parliament representatives from different countries informed about their national experiences and practices in the areas of legislative openness. They also discussed the legislative engagement policy adopted by the OGP Steering Committee in September 2016.

The day closed with a summary session facilitated by Scott Hubli, NDI Director of Governance Programs, and Devin O’Shaughnessy, Director of Programmes at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.  The participants discussed the Open Parliament eNetwork (OPeN) and future steps to achieving legislative openness.

The Open Parliament Day was initiated and organised by the Parliament of Georgia, in cooperation with the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit, with the assistance from partners and donors – the European Union (EU), UNDP, USAID/Good Governance Initiative (GGI), GIZ, NDI and Institute for Development of Freedom o0f Information (IDFI). 

OGP – Global Summits and Georgia’s Achievements

Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched on September 20, 2011, at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. As of today, it is composed of 76 member countries. OGP is a multilateral international initiative that aims to secure specific commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizen participation in the decision-making processes, fight corruption, secure effectiveness and accountability of governments and harness new technologies to strengthen open governance.

OGP is overseen by Steering Committee, which is composed of government and civil society representatives in equal numbers. With the help from subcommittees and thematic working groups, the Committee provides guidance and main directions of OGP. Furthermore, it supervises fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by the member states and generally controls proper functioning of OGP. The Committee is governed by the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and two representatives of civil society.

OGP is administered by the Support Unit that plays the role of the permanent secretariat and works closely with the Steering Committee to advance the goals of the OGP. The major function of the Support Unit is to manage OGP’s external communications, ensure the continuity of organizational relationships with OGP’s partners and support the broader membership.

Participation of Government and Parliament of Georgia in Open Government Partnership

 On July 30, 2014, for the first time after 2011, OGP steering committee was elected by the member states. Eleven states had been competing for eight seats, including Georgia. As a result of the elections, USA, Brazil, UK, Philippines and Tanzania were re-elected, while Georgia, Croatia and France joined the committee for the first time.

On May 4, 2016, Georgia became a Co-Chair of Open Government Partnership. Within the aforementioned competence, our country, along with France, was guiding Steering Committee.

In June 2017, Giorgi Kldiashvili, the Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), was selected as a new member representing civil society in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee (SC). Kldiashvili was nominated as the SC member by Niels Scott, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia.

Moreover, on September 19, 2017, at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, the official meeting of the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Steering Committee took place. At the meeting, the Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili officially took over the OGP chair from the French President Emmanuel Macron.

As a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Georgia has adopted and implemented three Action Plans and lately has elaborated and approved its Fourth Action Plan for the years of 2018-2019. It should also be noted that in the years of 2012-2018 the Government of Georgia carried out many important commitments through the action plans that our country adopted in previous years.

Moreover, on April 30, 2015, Parliament of Georgia and Non-Governmental and International Organizations participating in the Open Parliament Georgia Working Group, signed the Memorandum on Parliamentary Openness. As a result, Georgia became the first country in the region that started implementing the Principles of Open Parliament. It is noteworthy that in the year of 2015, Parliament of Georgia was awarded with the OGP Government Champions Award at the Open Government Partnership’s Global Summit. More precisely, the award was given to the Inter-Factional Group for an ideal cooperation with the civil society and for successful input of the civil society initiatives and recommendations into the national Action Plan.

It is noteworthy, that the Parliament of Georgia, with support from Civil Society and International Organizations, is actively involved in elaboration and implementation of Parliamentary Openness Action Plans. As of today, the Parliament has adapted three Action Plans (2015-2016, 2017, 2018-2019) and is constantly working on implementation of the Commitments defined therein.

It is noteworthy that through the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017, the Parliament of Georgia committed to supervise and monitor OGP-related activities of the Government of Georgia. As a result, throughout the implementation and elaboration process of the national Action Plan, the Government of Georgia presented information on its ongoing activities and achievements within the framework of Open Government Partnership (OGP) to the Parliament of Georgia. This is a step forward in increasing democracy and accountability of the Government institutions.

Based on the aforementioned, we can conclude that the fact that Georgia was chosen as a Chairman of OGP is a great success for our country and can be considered as a step forward in regards of development of freedom of information and building of democratic society.

 Participation of Tbilisi Municipality in Open Government Partnership (OGP)

On November 16, 2017, within the framework of “Open Government Partnership” (OGP), Tbilisi Municipality adopted Tbilisi OGP Action Plan 2017. In May 2016, the working group for development, promotion and monitoring of implementation of the Action Plan within the framework of “Open Government Partnership” was created. The working group is composed of representatives from various non-governmental actors. It is noteworthy that Tbilisi Municipality elaborated the Action Plan in the framework of the “Open Government Partnership’s” Pilot Program and as a result, it actively gets involved in implementation of OGP Principles.

First Global Summit of Open Government Partnership in Brazil (April 2012)

First Global Summit of Open Government Partnership was held on April 17-18, in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The Summit was attended by the governments and civil society representatives of 53 countries. Georgia was represented by the Prime Minister of Georgia, as well as by the civil society representatives.

The main goal of the Brazilian Meeting was to determine the progress of implementation of the commitments undertaken by the member countries and to define the course of OGP. Furthermore, in order to implement the OGP Principles, government and civil society representatives presented their action plans.

Other important topics discussed at the Brazilian Meeting were information accessibility, provision of public services, establishment of open data portals, management of public finances, transparency of budget management process, opinions of civil society and private sector on information accessibility and other.

Second Global Summit of Open Government Partnership in London (October 2013)

On October 31 – November 1, 2013, second Global Summit of Open Government Partnership was held in London, Great Britain. It was attended by more than 1,000 representatives of the member countries. As for the Georgian delegation, it consisted of the Minister of Justice and the representatives of “Institute for Development of Freedom of Information” (IDFI). Participating countries discussed progress of implementation of the OGP Principles and outlined new goals and challenges. The following priorities were determined at the London Summit 2013: Ensure of government openness, support of financial transparency in order to develop democracy and eliminate corruption, elaboration of global accounting standards in order to ensure transparency of utilization of natural resources, increase of dialogue and cooperation between governments and citizens and other.

Each participating country named new commitments to be included in their newly adopted action plans. Georgia committed to establish an integrated database of the public information (data.gov.ge) and to adopt a new Law on Freedom of Information. Moreover, Georgian delegation participated in the meeting of the Freedom of Information working group. The aim of the latter was to support implementation of the obligations related to freedom of information.

Third Global Summit of Open Government Partnership in Mexico (October 2015)

Third Global Summit of Open Government Partnership was held on October 28-29 in Mexico City, Mexico. Approximately 1,500 representatives of civil society, business sector and governments were presented at the Summit. The OGP Civil Society Day was traditionally held the day before the Summit. The aim of the aforementioned day was to deepen partnership between the OGP countries, increase the number of member states, exchange experiences and expend commitments of OGP.The Mexico Summit focused on number of important issues, such as interdependency of legislative process and technology. More precisely, it was agreed that technological support is one of the most important factors that contributes to the legislative process transparency. More precisely, technological support makes it easier for interested persons to access information and, thereafter, it ensures active participation of individuals in legislative processes.

Mechanisms for implementation of parliament openness were also discussed at the Mexico Summit. Furthermore, the OGP Summit emphasized the importance to include judicial branches of governments in implementation of the OGP Principles. Within the Summit, the Legislative Openness Working Group carried out training on legislative openness. Within the aforementioned training, various important issues were discussed, such as the role of technology in development and support of the legislative transparency, experience of the member countries in adopting access to information related legislation, implementation of international standards for parliamentary ethics and other.

With the help from the Legislative Openness Working Group, a large number of participating countries committed to include legislative branches of governments in implementation of the OGP goals. The participating countries also discussed the role of the Open Government Partnership in implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.

 Fourth Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Paris (December 2016)

Open Government Partnership’s fourth Global Summit was held in Paris, France on December 7-9, 2016. It was attended by approximately 3,000 representatives of civil society, business sector and government. Representatives of the Government, as well as of the non-governmental organizations, including “Institute for Development of Freedom of Information” (IDFI), were also presented at the aforementioned Summit. One of the main events held at the OGP Summit was presentation and adaptation of Paris Declaration, which aims to support exchange of experiences and mechanisms of various governments and non-governmental organizations with other members of OGP.

Fifth Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Tbilisi (July 2018)

On July 17-19, 2018, Tbilisi will host fifth Open Government Partnership Summit that will gather up to 2000 participants from over the Globe. Heads of Governments, Members of Parliaments, representatives of civil society, academia, international and donor organizations will discuss open and good governance related topics. The Summit will start with a Civil Society Day, which is the principal gathering of the global civil society community working on advancing open government. Simultaneously, in the Tbilisi building of the Parliament of Georgia, Georgian Parliament will host the Open Parliament Day – a high-level international discussion on legislative openness. Several panel discussions will focus on a range of issues related to the legislative openness, including the new ways of engaging citizens and civil societies in parliamentary work, institutional reforms needed to achieve parliamentary transparency and accountability, and the role of technology and innovation in strengthening parliamentary openness. The discussion will be opened by the Chairperson of the Georgian Parliament, Irakli Kobakhidze. The event will consist of two panels (Panel 1 – Legislative engagement policy: good practices, challenges and ways forward and Panel 2 – Transparent and accountable parliaments).

Between the panels, Lightening Talks I and II will take place. They will focus on Technologies and innovations for Parliamentary Democracy and will include discussions, as well as presentations of various country experiences.

The Open Parliament Day is initiated and organised by the Parliament of Georgia, in cooperation with the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Support Unit, with the assistance from partners and donors – the European Union (EU), UNDP, USAID/Good Governance Initiative (GGI), GIZ, NDI and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

On July 18, the Opening Plenary and number of high-level sessions of the Summit will take place. Within the framework of the Plenary, open parliament related issues will be discussed, such as Global Anti-Corruption, the Role of Multilateral Institutions in Supporting Open Governance Reforms, Open Data, Public Services Innovations, initiating and elaborating Participatory Budgeting and other. Topics will be discussed by various speakers from government, parliaments, CSOs and international organizations. Furthermore, Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, as well as prime ministers and presidents of other participating states will attend the high-level sessions.

Giorgi Kldiashvili, Executive Director of Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), will discuss impact, opportunities and challenges for open government and OGP in the Eastern Partnership.

On July 19, the Summit will continue with the following topics: Advancing budget transparency for development, publishing and re-using open data, open government innovations, feminist open government, citizen participation and other. Special attention will be paid to the parliamentary OGP issues and Giorgi Kldiashvili, along with Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance, will present their vision on how four OGP Commitments have transformed the relationship between Parliaments and Citizens.

The Summit will take place in various locations, such as the Parliament of Georgia, Tbilisi Concert Hall, Rooms Hotel Tbilisi and Funicular.