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.

IDFI’s Executive Director Selected as Member of the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee

IDFI’s Executive Director Giorgi Kldiashvili was selected as a new member representing civil society in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee (SC) – the executive, decision-making body that develops, promotes and safeguards the values, principles and interests of OGP. The SC consists of 22 members – 11 from government and 11 from civil society. The standard term of a SC member is three years – with the possibility of a one-term renewal.

Kldiashvili was nominated as the SC member by Niels Scott, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Georgia, while endorsement letters were sent by Veronica Cretu, President of Open Government Institute Moldova and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2013-2016, and Tom Blanton, Director of National Security Archive at George Washington University and civil society member of the OGP Steering Committee in 2011-2013.

The nomination letter by Niels Scott reads:

“IDFI’s efforts helped to bring OGP to a greater level in Georgia and goes without saying that Mr. Kldiashvili’s role in this process has been critical.

Giorgi Kldiashvili is one of the biggest OGP advocates not only in Georgia but also in Europe, Asia and Pacific regions. As the co-chair of the OGP Georgia Forum, chair of the Open Parliament Working Group and member of the National Anti-Corruption Council, Giorgi is one of the leading civil society activists advocating for transparency, accountability and governance reform.

He has demonstrated a rare ability to be involved in the co-creation process with public institutions while at the same time provide effective oversight over their commitments. Giorgi is one of the few civil society representatives providing leadership as well as daily substantive input to the open government process in Georgia.

Transparency and accountability in various sectors are highly important for Mr. Kldiashvili….The background, expertise, leadership and advocacy experience make Mr. Kldiashvili an excellent candidate for the position of OGP Steering Committee Member.”

The selection committee had a challenging task of arriving from 29 accomplished and motivated civil society candidates to a shortlist of 10 candidates, striking a balance between individual experience and expertise, diversity, and regional balance vis-a-vis the composition of the Steering Committee as a whole.

Members of the selection committee consisted of two volunteers from the community, current members of the Steering Committee and the Support Unit – Undral Gombodorj (Director, Democracy Education Center, Mongolia), Laura Neuman (Director, Global Access to Information Program, The Carter Center, United States), Mukelani Dimba (OGP Steering Committee), Aidan Eyakuze (OGP Steering Committee) and Paul Maassen (OGP Support Unit) – started the process by looking at the submitted paperwork to individually rank each of the candidates using three criteria: leadership, working across stakeholders, and ability to read and represent the interests of civil society.

Nomination and selection process

This exercise gave an initial insight into the candidate’s’ ability to engage strategically at the highest political level – the level the OGP Steering Committee works at – and to represent the interests of a civil society community across national, regional, and global levels. The selection committee members also assessed the candidate’s track record of working on open government and related cross-cutting themes, as well as engagement with open government networks.

At the end of the process, 2 persons were selected to join the OGP Steering Committee this year – Giorgi Kldiashvili and Tur-Od Lkhagvajav (Mongolia) – one to fill a vacant seat in June (Tur-Od Lkhagvajav) and the other (Giorgi Kldiashvili) to join with the new government counterparts on the Steering Committee in October.

Civil Society members of the OGP Steering Committee have  the responsibility to perform the international governance role for OGP in the Steering Committee and to represent the concerns and interests of the international OGP civil society community in the Steering Committee.

According to Giorgi Kldiashvili,

“Joining the OGP Steering Committee is a great opportunity and the responsibility for me, especially now when Georgia is to serve as a chair country of OGP Steering Committee. I would also like to say many thanks to all who referenced me for this job and I do hope that by sharing my skills and experience, I will significantly contribute to strengthen OGP at the global, regional and national level.”

Civil Society Organizations leave Mexico’s National OGP Platform

DAmTKtAXsAAufpbMexico is one of the founders of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The Mexican government and civil society organizations (CSOs) played an important role in furthering the OGP via successful reforms and awareness-raising on regional and international levels. In 2015, Mexico hosted an OGP global summit. Mexican reformers were a source of inspiration for many governments to fight societal problems with reforms through the OGP framework.

Today, the exemplary member of OGP faces severe challenges. One of the fundamental principles of this partnership – cooperation between government and civil society – was violated in Mexico. The government of Mexico, despite having implemented high standards of OGP, could not maintain progress, which endangers the open governance process in this country as well as every other state involved in the partnership.

On May 24, 2017, Mexican civil society organizations left the country’s OGP national platform. The reason for this decision was a report by an organization Citizen Lab that documented illegal surveillance of famous researches and public health advocates by the Mexican government. OGP member CSOs expressed their concern that the illegal surveillance of journalists, representatives of civil society, and activists was an ongoing practice in Mexico.

The incident took place in February 2017, after which CSOs demanded from the government (Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection – IFAI) and other members of the national OGP platform, to take effective countermeasures. However, the Mexican government refused to respond for next three months.

OGP member CSOs unanimously decided to leave the national platform. In a letter to their partners, they stated that the national platform lacked the conditions for cooperation and dialogue, and that the continuation of the CSOs presence in the OGP mechanism and in the implementation process of the Mexican Third Action Plan was impossible. In addition to ignoring the issue of illegal surveillance, the organizations stated that political will for successful implementation of the Action Plan did not exist, because the government tries to modify and shorten previously agreed obligations.

The Mexican example proves how a country, exemplary in fighting corruption and implementing OGP, can find itself facing serious challenges due to inaction of the government. It is important that during this challenge all OGP countries maintain active involvement, and support democratic processes in Mexico, to avoid the weakening of implementation of OGP.

Mexican OGP Technical Tripartite Secretariat (STT) directs Open Government processes and makes related decisions. The Secretariat consists of three branches: one representative from government (Coordination of the National Digital Strategy), one from civil society (Transparencia Mexicana), and one from the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI). The NGO’s participated in the creation of all three Mexican Action Plans.

 

Open Government Partnership statement on domestic OGP developments in Mexico – https://www.opengovpartnership.org/stories/open-government-partnership-statement-on-domestic-ogp-developments-mexico

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.

The Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance adopted the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan

_DXP7196On May 2, 2017, the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance and its Consultative Group adopted the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan. The process was supported by European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in cooperation with IDFI.

In addition to Civil Society Organizations, the meeting was attended by representatives of the Parliament of Georgia, including Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance, Eka Beselia, Chairperson of the Legal Issues Committee of the Parliament, and Kakhaber Kutchava, Chairperson of the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Committee of the Parliament.

The aim of the Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan is to ensure accountability and transparency of parliamentary activities and citizen involvement in lawmaking processes. The commitments included in the Action Plan derive from the fundamental principles of Open Government Partnership (Citizen Involvement, Accessibility of Information, Accountability of the Parliament, Transparency of Parliamentary Activities, and Technologies and Innovation). The Action Plan includes 25 commitments that shall be implemented by the Parliament of Georgia in2017-2018.

Action Plan commitments were elaborated by representatives of the 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 and USAID Good Governance Initiative (GGI).

All 25 commitments are based on the following 5 challenges of OGP:

Challenge 1 – Citizen Involvement:

1.1 Introduction of a public petition system;

1.2 Ensuring citizen involvement in the Constitution review process;  

1.3 Introduction of a mechanism for submission of legislative proposals and legislative initiatives electronically and introduction of a citizen support mechanism through the website of the Parliament of Georgia;

1.4 Elaboration of rules and procedures for public consultations in lawmaking processes, introduction of a feedback mechanism (electronic and/or written comments) on draft laws;

1.5 Adaptation of the building of the Parliament of Georgia to the needs of people with disabilities and ensuring the accessibility of parliamentary services to people with disabilities;

1.6 Raising public awareness on Open Government Partnership;

1.7 Simplification of the procedures for entering the Parliamentary building;

1.8 Elaboration of a state concept on the Development of Civil Society Organizations.

Challenge 2 – Accessibility of Information:

2.1 Increasing the list of information to be proactively published on the Parliament website;

2.2 Introduction of visible indications for amendments made to the initial text of a draft law during its review process, and timely disclosure of these amendments on the Parliament website;

2.3 Proactive disclosure of information on the activities of majoritarian MPs on the Parliament website;

2.4 Timely disclosure of  information about Parliamentary hearings of elected officials and reports presented by public institutions accountable to the Parliament, as well as preparation and disclosure of video-reports of relevant committee hearings on the Parliament website;

2.5 Elaboration and proactive disclosure of parliamentary Committees action plans in the beginning of each year.

Challenge 3 Accountability of the Parliament:

3.1 Institutionalization of annual meetings of the Parliament of Georgia and Civil Society Organizations;

3.2 Preparation and disclosure of annual Parliamentary reports;

3.3 Introduction of a self-assessment tool for the Parliament of Georgia.

Challenge 4 – Transparency of Parliamentary Activities:

4.1 Increasing the transparency of investigative and other temporary committees;

4.2 Elaboration of a monitoring system for public information reports (so called “December 10th reports”);

4.3 Elaboration of a Code of Ethics for the Members of the Parliament of Georgia;

4.4 Improving the contents of draft law explanatory notes;

4.5 Introduction of an obligation to substantiate changes to committee hearing agendas;

4.6 Supervision/Monitoring of activities carried out by the Government of Georgia within the framework of Open Government Partnership.

Challenge 5 – Technologies and Innovation:

5.1 Improvement of the voting results database;

5.2 Creation of a public information module and simplification of access to information on Parliamentary activities (including disclosure of documents in machine readable formats);

5.3 Restructuration of the Parliament website.

The Open Parliament Georgia 2017-2018 Action Plan is planned to be approved by the Bureau of the Parliament of Georgia in May 2017.

See the photos of the event here: http://bit.ly/2qIC0Dr