Comments of the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information on the 2014-2015 National Action Plan Final Self-Assessment Report of the Open Government Partnership Georgia

ogp_logoThe Open Government Partnership (OGP) Georgia’s National Action Plan (NAP) 2014-2015 was created through intense cooperation between the government of Georgia and the civil society. The NAP included 27 Commitments (29 actions) that were distributed among 16 responsible institutions. IDFI was actively involved in monitoring of the action plan commitments and provided the OGP Forum Secretariat with regular assessments about the progress of activities.

In 2016, IDFI has published its Assessment of the Completed and Unfulfilled Commitments of the OGP 2014-2015 National Action Plan. According to the Assessment, out of 29 action, IDFI evaluated 20 as completed and 9 actions as unfulfilled. Developing and launching of the E-Petitions Portal (I-CHANGE.GE), drafting and adoption of a new Law on Freedom of Information and developing an Interactive Criminal Statistics map were some of the most important commitments that were not fulfilled in the 2014-2015 NAP.

The final Self-Assessment Report covers the commitments that were not marked as “Fully Completed” during the previous monitoring round.

Comments of IDFI on Commitments of the OGP National Action Plan 2014-2015:

Commitment 4: Develop Citizen’s Portal www. my.gov.ge

 IDFI Comment: Comments of IDFI in the last evaluation period touched upon the inefficiency of the awareness campaign, the small amount of services accessible on the portal and the absence of the municipal services section on the portal. In addition, the responsible institution did not fulfill the minimum amount of activities that were envisaged in plans. IDFI evaluated the commitment as Partially Implemented.

Commitment 6(b): Introduction of e-Governance in Local Self-Governments

IDFI Comment: According to the indicator of the commitment, e-governance should have been implemented in 10 municipalities of Georgia and according to the previous evaluation period, round e-governance was implemented in 6 municipalities. Based on the given information, it is difficult to assess whether the IT skills training included the municipal management systems, which was identified as a separate training. IDFI evaluated the commitments as Partially Implemented.

Commitment 7: Digital Signature and Online Authentication

IDFI Comment: According to the information provided by the agency, tender documents were prepared by the end of 2015; however, it is not clear why the agency was not able to conduct the procurement procedure and postponedit to 2017. The previous comment of IDFI about the connection with the indicator of the commitment has not been taken into account. In particular, it is still not possible to identify the exact amount of institutions. According to the indicator, the service of digital signature should have been implemented; therefore, IDFI evaluated the commitment as Partially Implemented, since its most important element has not yet been completed.

Commitment 8: Create Open Data Portal (data.gov.ge)

IDFI Comment: It is important to point out that the Hackathon (envisaged by the commitment) has still not been conducted. In this regard, it is important to receive clarification from the institution, since according to the last status update, the agenda, training plan, logistics and the financing plan had been prepared. IDFI evaluated the commitment as Fully Implemented.

Commitment 9: Elaborate Freedom of Information Act

IDFI Comment: IDFI evaluated the commitment as Not Implemented, since the indicator stated that the draft law should have been submitted to the Parliament in the spring of 2015, which unfortunately has not occurred. Moreover, the 2016-2017 OGP National Action Plan includes the elaboration of the Freedom of Information Act as a new commitment, which creates ambiguity about the status of the commitment. If the commitment of elaborating the Freedom of Information Law has been partially completed in the 2014-2015 NAP, it should not be included in the new action plan. In order to transfer this commitment in the new NAP, it should be indicated in the current Self-Assessment Report that the commitment has not been implemented and it is necessary to transfer it to the 2016-2017 NAP.   

Commitment 10: Open Government Georgia’s Forum – Coordinating Mechanism on the National Level

IDFI Comment: IDFI evaluated the commitment as Fully Implemented. However, despite the status of the action it is important to take into account several factors: the indicator of the commitment states that the meetings of the forum take place regularly, which does not fully describe the existing situation. According to the Rules of Procedure of the Forum, a meeting of the Forum should take place every first Wednesday of each month. The meetings of the Forum in 2014-2015 have not taken place in full compliance of the Rules of Procedure. If conducting monthly meetings is not a priority of the OGP Georgia’s Forum, relevant amendments should be made in the Rules of the Procedure. In addition, according to the information provided by the Forum Secretariat, 13 meetings of the Forum have taken place in 2015; however, the Secretariat did not ensure the availability of the meeting minutes on the webpage of the Ministry of Justice, as it was prescribed in the indicator of the commitment. It is important to point out that after May 7 2015, minutes of the Forum meetings are not being uploaded on the webpage. IDFI recommends to the Forum Secretariat to take into account the above-mentioned procedural issues.   

Commitment 11: E-Petitions Portal (ICHANGE.GE)

IDFI Comment: IDFI evaluated the commitment as Not Implemented, which is proved by measuring its progress through the indicator. All technical components for launching the portal have been prepared and the relevant Government Decree has been drafted. Despite the above-mentioned actions, the draft Decree was not submitted to the Government for review and final adoption.  

Moreover, this commitment was not transferred to the new 2016-2017 OGP National Action Plan, which prevents the Forum form tracking the progress of its implementation.

Commitment 13: Set up Public Officials’ Asset Declaration Monitoring System

IDFI Comment: According to the indicator of the commitment, the monitoring system should be currently functioning but there are still a few technical details that have to be completed. Accordingly, IDFI evaluated the commitment as Largely Implemented. In addition, the responsible institution has not conducted a test launch of the system, which is necessary to evaluate the commitment as Fully Implemented.

Commitment 19: Establish Mechanism to Inform the Public on Budgetary Processes

IDFI Comments: The “Other Involved Actors” section of commitment includes Forum member CSOs; however, not all CSO members of the forum were involved and informed throughout the implementation of the commitment.

The information provided by the responsible agency did not include a total amount of meetings that were held. In order to assess the implementation of the commitment, it is important to indicate how many meetings and where they were held. It is also not clear what type of materials were used during the awareness activities.

According to the indicator, the responsible agency should have developed a specific scheme of informing the public. From the information provided by the Ministry of Finance, it is not possible to assess whether such a scheme (document) was developed. It is important to assess the commitment as Largely Implemented; therefore, IDFI assessed the commitment as Partially Implemented

Commitment 21: Digital Preservation System: E-Archive

IDFI Comment: During the previous stage of the Self-Assessment, IDFI requested clarifications on what caused the suspension of the implementation of the activity. In addition to assessing the commitment as Not Implemented, the Forum Secretariat should request from responsible institutions/divisions relevant clarifications on why the commitment has not implemented. IDFI assessed the commitments as Not Implemented.

Commitment 26: Interactive Statistics and Crime Mapping

IDFI Comment: IDFI assessed the commitment as Not Implemented. Despite the comment provided during the previous assessment round, the responsible agency has not provided any clarification with regard to the shortcomings of implementation. In 2016, the Ministry of Internal Affairs made a statement, where it pointed out that it is working on creating the crime statistics page static.pol.ge. However, the indicated webpage is currently not functioning (please see the statement of the Ministry:http://police.ge/ge/shs-ministris-moadgile-shalva-khutsishvili-arasamtavrobo-organizatsiebis-tsarmomadgenlebs-da-jurnalistebs-shekhvda/10249).

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