Parliament of Georgia Finalizes its Third Open Parliament Action Plan

The Parliament of Georgia has finalized the elaboration of its commitments for the 2018-2019 Open Parliament Action Plan, which include: supporting the implementation and monitoring of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, increasing accountability before the citizens, developing deeper awareness of the public on parliamentary democracy, and strengthening its oversight of the transparency of Government activities.  

On 7 June, seven commitments for the third Open Parliament Action Plan (2018-2019) were discussed by the members of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance and its Consultative Group. The event was supported by the European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

Participants were welcomed by Irina Pruidze – Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance, Sophie Huet-Guerriche – Governance Sector coordinator at the EU Delegation to Georgia, Gigi Bregadze –UNDP Democratic Governance Team Leader, and Giorgi Kldiashvili – IDFI’s Executive Director.

“Similar to the previous Action Plans, the third document is the result of a co-creation and participatory process involving Members of Parliament, local government, civil society, academia, and youth representatives. The new plan consists of seven ambitious commitments, each employing a large number of tasks that the Parliament has to accomplish in the course of the next two years. As usual, the key focus is laid on making the Georgian Parliament more open and accountability to its citizens,” – said Irina Pruidze.

Governance Sector coordinator  at the EU Delegation to Georgia Sophie Huet-Guerriche reiterated the support of the European Union to the Parliament of Georgia in its efforts to exercise its representative role and become more open to citizens.

“Engagement of citizens in policy and legislative making is crucial in democratic societies. Greater openness of the legislative process enables citizens to engage more effectively in policymaking by providing access to information about the laws under consideration, as well as opportunities to influence legislative agenda” – stated Sophie Huet-Guerriche.

Ideas and suggestions for the Open Parliament Action Plan 2018-2019 were collected during the public consultations in eight cities of Georgia – Telavi, Rustavi, Marneuli, Akhaltsikhe, Kutaisi, Batumi and Tbilisi – held throughout March-April 2018. The new Action Plan also includes commitments initiated by local municipalities, private sector and youth (through the contest – Your Idea for Open Parliament).

Public consultations as well as today’s workshop is organized by the Parliament with assistance from the EU, UNDP and IDFI.

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Georgia Moves Forward to Legislative Openness

Georgian Parliament fully implemented 13 and partially 11 out of 24 commitments described in the Open Parliament Action Plan 2017, and will continue this successful work in 2018. Among other achievements, the Parliament has initiated the Code of Ethics of MPs and provided opportunities for citizens to submit e-petitions and e-legislative initiatives.

The implementation of the Open Parliament Action Plan was discussed at a specially convened meeting on 5 February 2018, organized by the Parliament of Georgia with support from the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI).

The meeting brought together Members of Parliament and representatives of the Government of Georgia, civil society and international organizations.

Irina Pruidze, Chairperson of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance; Sophie Huet Guerriche, Governance Sector Coordinator at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia; and Gigi Bregadze, UNDP Democratic Governance Team leader in Georgia, addressed the meeting participants.

The report of the Open Parliament activities in 2017 was presented by Irina Pruidze. She stressed that accountability and citizen engagement will become key priorities of the Open Parliament work in 2018.

“We made significant progress last year to ensure that parliamentary work in Georgia is transparent and open. In 2018, we will focus on citizens’ engagement and access to information. The new website of the Georgian Parliament, which will be launched later this year, will provide innovative opportunities for all, including to easily access information and take part in the legislative process,” Pruidze said.

Sophie Huet Guerriche, Governance Sector Coordinator at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia, underlined the monitoring and oversight role of civil society in achieving legislative openness.

“Open Parliament strengthens accountability and transparency of the authorities and presents additional opportunities for their cooperation with civil society, private sector and citizens,” Sophie Huet Guerriche said. 

Open Parliament is part of Georgia’s efforts under the Open Government Partnership (OGP), international platform that unites over 70 countries to help their governments become more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Georgia is chairing the OGP this year and will be hosting the 5th annual OGP summit in July 2018.

Ketevan Tsanava, representative of the Ministry of Justice and Georgia’s National OGP Coordinator, updated the meeting participants about the country’s progress in fulfilling the OGP commitments and informed about the ongoing preparations for the global summit.

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.

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

On March 5-6th, the workshop of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance of the Parliament of Georgia and the Consultative Group took place in Borjomi. The participants of the workshop discussed the commitments of the Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016, which are not fulfilled yet. Initiators of the commitments presented the concepts and the ways to implement the commitments. The Open Parliament Georgia Action Plan 2015-2016 consists of 18 commitments out of which only 2 are implemented: “Establishing Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance” (4.1 Commitment initiated by IDFI) and “Raising Public Education and Awareness on Activities, Role and Mission of the Parliament of Georgia; Strengthening Institutional Image and Role of the Parliament of Georgia” (1.6 Commitment initiated by the Office of the Parliament of Georgia).

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Consultative Group Discussed Ways of Supporting the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open and Transparent Governance

The first work meeting of the Consultative Group was held at the UN House on 23rd of February. Representatives of non-governmental and international organizations determined the staff of the Consultative Group and selected the Chair organization – Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) – to represent the Group at the parliament, as well as in the events held within Georgia and abroad.

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