Meeting of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and Its Consultative Group

20479768_1507741055949666_2578013831387649745_nOn August 2, 2017, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) organized a meeting of  the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and its Consultative Group.  The aim of the meeting was to define and approve new dates for implementation of commitments under the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018.

IDFI also presented draft amendments to the Order of the Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia on Standards for Proactive Disclosure and Electronical Request of the Public Information that was elaborated in cooperation with the representatitves of civil society and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting was attended by representatives of the Parliament of Georgia, including:

– Irina Pruidze – Chairperson of the Council

– Eka Beselia – Chairperson of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament

– Kakhaber Kutchava – Chairperson of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament

Representatives of civil society and international organizations were also presented at the meeting:

– United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

– Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

– GIZ Georgia

– Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

– Transparency International Georgia (TI)

Definition of new implementation dates for  commitments under the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action plan was requested by theOpen Government Partnership (OGP) and aims to include the parliamentary openness related commitments in the National Action Plan of Georgia and monitor and oversee activities carried out by the Government of Georgia within the scope of OGP.

According to Irina Pruidze, in order to make the Parliament of Georgia an integral part of Open Government,  it is necessary to unify the Parliamentary Openness Action Plan with the National Action Plan of Georgia. She also stated that since implementation dates of various commitments do not correspond with the implementation dates of commitments defined by the National Action Plan, it is important to divide the Open Parliament Action Plan so that part of the commitments are due to be implemented in 2017, and  the rest in 2018.

Parties present at the meeting unanimously agreed to start the elaboration of the Open Parliament Georgia 2018-2019 Action Plan. This Action Plan shall include commitments taken from the Action Plan 2017-2018, as well as new commitments that will be jointly elaborated by the Council and its Consultative Group. 

The following commitments shall be implemented in 2018:

– Elaboration and testing of the petition system, as well as launch of the platform;

– Elaboration of electronic signature mechanism for the legislative initiatives on the website of the Parliament;

– Adaption of the rules and procedure for public consultation in legislative processes;

– Launch of feedback mechanism for comments left by citizens on draft laws available on the website of the Parliament;

– Piloting of the system for provision of people with disabilities with the services offered by the Parliament;

– Raising of public awareness about OGP;

– Review and adoption of the Civil Society Organizations Development Concept;

– Preparation and publication of the information on the annual parliamentary activities on the website of the Parliament;

– Visualization of amendments made to the initial version of draft laws and their publication on the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of the self-assessment tool of the Parliament and adoption of the relevant changes to the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament;

– Implementation of the self-assessment tool of the Parliament;

– Technical elaboration of the concept on electronic submission and monitoring of December 10 Reports and provision of its availability on the website of the Parliament;

– Improvement of the voting results portal on the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of the updated structure of the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of new template of the website of the Parliament;

– Elaboration of unified system for management of the website of the Parliament.

The new dates for implementation of the above commitments are available here link.

Draft amendment to the Order of the Parliament Chairperson elaborated by IDFI aims to ensure implementation of Commitment 2.1 (“Expanding the list of public information proactively disclosed on the Parliamentary website”) and Commitment 2.4 (“Timely Disclosure of information related to Review of Reports and Committee Hearings of Individuals Elected by the Parliament, Preparation and Disclosure of Relevant Video Protocol on the Parliamentary Website”) of the Open Parliament Action Plan 2017-2018. Parties presented at the meeting reviewed the draft amendment and agreed to improve its content within the scope of parliamentary working groups.

In order to implement the commitments defined by the Open Parliament 2017-2018 Action Plan, working groups consisting of MPs and CSOs have been established. These working groups work towards elaborating relevant draft laws that are necessary for successful implementation of the commitments. For example, according to Irina Pruidze, the Code of Ethics working group had already held a number of meetings and elaborated the final draft of the Code that shall be presented to the Parliament in September 2017.

Parties presented at the meeting unanimously voted for the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia to become the member of the Consultative Group. According to Ekaterine Popkhadze, Parliamentary Secretary of the Public Defender’s Office, the Office will actively participate in elaboration and implementation of the Action Plan and will ensure establishment of Parlimentary openness and OGP principles in Georgia.

The meeting was held within the project “Strengthening the System of  Parliamentary Democracy in  Georgia” that is funded by the European Union and implemented by UNDP in cooperation with IDFI.

Parliament Approves Georgia’s Second Open Parliament Action Plan

parliament_of_georgia

On May 16, 2017, the Parliament of Georgia approved the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018. The Action Plan consists of 25 Commitments that aim to increase accountability and transparency of parliamentary activities and ensure citizen participation in lawmaking processes.

The Commitments were collectively elaborated by the representatives of:

– Parliament of Georgia

– Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)

– Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)

– Transparency International Georgia (TIG)

– United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

– National Democratic Institute (NDI)

– Civil Society Institute (CSI)

– GIZ Georgia

– JumpStart Georgia

– USAID Good Governance Initiative (GGI)

All of the Commitments included in the Action Plan derive from the fundamental principles of Open Government Partnership (OGP): 1. citizen involvement, 2. accessibility to information, 3. accountability and transparency, and 4. technologies and innovations. 

The Commitments are also in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a topic explored in detail in a study prepared by IDFI.

The following Commitments of the Action Plan are worth highlighting:

  • Commitment 1.1.Elaboration of an Electronic Petition System – implementation of this Commitment will significantly increase citizen participation in lawmaking processes and ensure their trust towards legislative authorities. The Parliament also plans to improve procedures of review of electronic petitions in accordance with best international standards.

 

  • Commitment 2.3.Proactive Disclosure of Information on Activities Carried out by Majoritarian MPs – not all information about majoritarian MPs is available on the Parliament website– http://www.parliament.ge, e.g. addresses of regional MP offices. The main objective of this Commitment is to proactively disclose information on activities carried out by MPs and make it easier for voters to contact and organize meetings with them.

 

  • Commitment 2.5.Elaboration and Proactive Disclosure of Action Plans by Parliamentary Committees – Each year, during the spring session of Parliament, Committees will be obligated to elaborate and publish one or two year actions plans. As a result, all stakeholders will have timely information on planned legislative processes.

 

  • Commitment 4.2.Elaboration of a Monitoring System of Public Information Reports (also known as “December 10 Reports”) – Each year, the Parliament of Georgia receives public information reports from public entities, however, the Georgian legislation does not determine any particular procedure for submitting these reports, which has become a formality. The Commitment is aimed atintroducing a review procedure and effective response mechanisms related to public information reports through the Rules of Procedures of the Parliament of Georgia.

 

  • Commitment 4.6.Supervision/Monitoring of Activities Carried out by the Government of Georgia within the Framework of OGP – As of today, the Parliament of Georgia does not supervise/monitor activities carried out by the Government of Georgia within the framework of OGP. The Commitment aims to strengthen the supervision/monitoring function of the Parliament and improve coordination between different branches of the Government.

Elaboration and adoption of the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018 is a result of meetings and long negotiations between the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and its Consultative Group. Various opinion polls and public consultations were also held during the elaboration process. For example, on April 19, 2017, IDFI used Facebook to organize an opinion poll in relation to the newly elaborated commitments. Participants had the opportunity to choose issues of most interest to them. The results of the poll can be viewed here.

The whole process of elaboration of the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018 (including public consultations, polls and meetings) was carried within the scope of the Project titled Strengthening the System of Parliamentary Democracy in Georgia, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

In order to elaborate the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018, three meetings were held:

Meeting held on January 18, 2017;

Meeting held on March 14, 2017;

Meeting held on May 2, 2017.

Members of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and its Consultative Group were actively involved in the meetings.

A working group consisting of MPs and CSOs will also be created in the near future, in order to implement the Commitments of the action plan.

The Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2017-2018 is the second action plan that was elabotated within the framework of OGP in Georgia. The first Open Parliament Action Plan of Georgia was adopted on July 17, 2015 and included 18 Commitments.

Public Consultation for OGP Action Plan 2016-2017 in Marneuli

Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) participated in public consultation held in Marneuli on April 13. Representative of the Institute, Tamar Nadibaidze presented recommendations of IDFI for the OGP Action Plan 2016-2017.

Participants of the consultation discussed problems they are facing and voiced some ideas for the OGP Action Plan. It is important that the initiatives presented by the citizens answer 4 principal challenges of OGP: transparency, accountability, civic participation, innovation and technology.

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Letter of IDFI to Prime Minister of Georgia

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.

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2016 OGP National Action Plan Development

On March 1st, 2016, Webinar was held on “2016 OGP National Action Plan Development,” financed by the World Bank Group and the OGP Support Unit. Presenters of the Webinar: Abhinav Bahl, program manager of the OGP Support Unit and Shreya Basu, OGP regional coordinator for Asia-Pacific discussed how national action plans should be developed, what notions should guide the countries in the development process, and provided thorough recommendation for elaborating the stronger action plans in term of the format, process, and content.