Proactive disclosure of public information has been one of the most important commitment taken by Georgia within the frameworks of the Open Government Partnership. After extensive consultations, meetings and discussions, with the active support of United States International Development Agency (USAID) and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), the Government of Georgia finally issues a decree regarding proactive disclosure in 2013. Specifically, on September 1, 2013, the 26th August №219 Decree of the Government of Georgia “about electronic request for and proactive disclosure of public information” entered into force. According to the mentioned decree, before December 31, 2013, the administrative bodies of the government were obliged to create a public information page and publish the 2013 public information in the list attached to the decree on their websites.
The decree also contains a section that states that the information to be published quarterly should be published no later than one month after the end of the quarter, while the information to be published annually should be published no later than three months after the end of the year. The governmental bodies established by the related government decree should have guaranteed the disclosure of the public information from the first three quarters of 2013 before 31 December 2013, as well as information that can be updated only in the case of specific changes.
The above-mentioned decree, as you know, applies to the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia, the ministries, offices of the state ministers, legal entities of public law and sub-agencies. The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) studied the official websites of the listed institutions, which revealed that the obligations associated with the decree have not yet been fulfilled by a number of institutions.
- Chancellery of the Government, Ministries and Offices of the State Ministers
First of all it should be noted that the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia fulfilled its obligation to create a web-page for public information on its official website and publish most of the public information required by the decree.
Among the ministries, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs were distinguished by timely and mostly full proactive disclosure of public information. They have fulfilled their obligation to construct a separate webpage for public information and publish most of the information proactively before 31 December 2013.
Among the ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees have not created a public information webpage on their official websites at this time.
The status of electronic requests for public information is different in the above-mentioned institutions. On their official website, only the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs implemented the system for electronic requests. In the “Request public information” sections of their websites, the user can request public information electronically by filling in the corresponding fields. The Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs redirect the use to the public portal – my.gov.ge – to request public information. In other cases information can be requested electronically via the official electronic addresses of the persons responsible for issuing public information or the institution. In many cases, there is no indication of the form and the concrete electronic address to which the user should send a letter requesting public information electronically.
- LEPLs and sub-agencies
With regards to the fulfillment of the obligations of proactive disclosure of public information, the situation in LEPLs and sub-agencies is complicated. IDFI studied 76 LEPLs and sub-agencies, and as a result determined that 17 of these do not have a website at all. Out of the remaining 59, 45 created a separate web-page for public information on their websites.
Among the mentioned 45 institutions that created a public information web-page, only 33 have published certain information on the web-page, while the rest have not published the information determined by the decree of the Government at this time.
The following LEPLs and sub-agencies have their own website but have not yet created a separate web-page for public information:
1. Special State Protection Service
2. State Treasury
3. Ministry of Internal Affairs – Service Agency
4. Department of Corrections
5. Educational Center of Corrections and Probation
6. Agency of Protected Areas
7. National Agency of Environment
8. Basic Sapling Forestry
9. National Self-Defense Academy of Georgia
10. Cadets Military Lyceum
11. National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation
12. National Wine Agency
13. Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture
14. Vano Khukhunaishvili Center for Effective Governance System and Territorial Arrangement Reform
For LEPLs and sub-agencies, the public information can be requested electronically via the official electronic addresses of the persons responsible for issuing public information or the institution. In many cases, there is no indication of the form and the concrete electronic address to which the user should send a letter requesting public information electronically. Thus, in practice the users have no possibilities to effectively use these methods to request public information electronically.
As demonstrated in the above analysis, the obligations associated with decree №219 of the Government of Georgia have not yet been fulfilled by a number of institutions by 31 December 2013.
The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees should be especially noted, as they did not create a web-page for public information on their official website at all.
Among the LEPLs and sub-agencies that have not taken any actions with regards to proactive disclosure of public information, exactly the institutions subject to the Ministry of Agriculture are prevalent.