29 March, 2016
Prime Minister of Georgia
Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili
Dear Prime Minister,
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the efforts of the Georgian government and you personally in promoting the development of open governance, accountability, transparency, and citizen participation.
It is apparent to us that open governance and effective public administration are a priority for the Georgian government. This is recognized not only domestically, but also at the international level by a number of important indices and rankings. However, it is also apparent that more effort and political will is required to implement the necessary reforms.
Georgia is considered an exemplary country among the 69 members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) due to its significant reforms in terms of good governance, transparency, accountability, and citizen participation. For this reason, Georgia was elected a member of the OGP Supervisory Committee in 2014. Over the past two years, the Georgian government developed and implemented two action plans within the framework of OGP with active support and involvement of civil society. Specifically, the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice, which serves as the Georgian OGP Secretariat, coordinated the development of action plans for 2012-2013 and 2014-2015. These action plans include commitments undertaken by various public institutions based on OGP principles. In 2015, the Georgian Parliament also joined the Open Government Partnership, and was awarded a special prize in the same year for its outstanding results at the annual OGP summit in Mexico City.
The 2014-2015 OGP Action Plan for Georgia was approved on September 18, 2014, by Government Decree №557. The action plan contains two activities of major importance to be completed by September 2015 that were included based on recommendations and direct involvement of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI):
1. Development of a draft law on Freedom of Information and its submission to the Parliament (responsible entity – the Ministry of Justice)
2. Creation of an online petition platform I-CHANGE (responsible entity – the Government Administration)
As I have already stated during our meeting on January 26, 2016, the above commitments have yet to be fulfilled. Georgia’s failure to fulfill these commitments has already been mentioned in the OGP independent evaluation report.
The initial version of the draft law on Freedom of Information was developed with the support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation and active involvement of IDFI, and was sent to the Ministry of Justice as early as in September 2014. For reasons unknown to us the draft law development process has been put on hold ever since. This has led to the failure to fulfill the commitments under the 2014-2015 OGP Action Plan. The final version of the draft law should have been submitted to the Parliament during its 2015 spring session; instead, it remains to be approved by the government.
Similarly, the online petition platform, that should have been developed and launched by the government administration in summer 2015, has also been put on hold. The preparatory work for the project has been completed with the support of USAID and the involvement of IDFI. Specifically, the I-CHANGE concept, the technical part of the online petition platform, the draft version of the relevant government decree, the awareness raising campaign, and a beta version of the online platform have all been developed. Despite all of this preparatory work, however, the platform remains unavailable to the public.
The implementation process of the above commitments was being monitored by our OGP partners, as well as international and donor organizations that have been supporting the whole process.
It is important for Georgia to present maximum results during this year’s elections of the OGP Supervisory Committee. Not only does Georgia have a chance to be re-elected as a committee member, but is could also become a co-chair country of the Open Government Partnership. This would be the surest way to gain international recognition for the good governance reforms implemented by Georgia.
Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to ask you to personally look into the reasons behind the failure to fulfill the above international commitments undertaken by Georgia through a government decree, and to ensure their timely implementation.
Director of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information
Co-Chairman of Open Government Georgia Forum