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Albania End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Implementation of Albania’s third action plan was greatly affected by the dissolution of the Ministry of State for Innovation and Public Administration in September 2017, which served as the main coordinating institution for OGP. More than half of the 17 commitments did not lead to any notable improvement in opening government. To achieve success in the OGP process, the Albanian government needs to establish a genuine dialogue with civil society and build on the achievements of previous action plans.

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a voluntary international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to their citizenry to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a review of the activities of each OGP-participating country.

This report summarizes the results from July 2016 to June 2018 and includes relevant developments up to September 2018.

Initially, the Minister of State for Innovation and Public Administration (MSIPA) was the leading office responsible for Albania’s OGP commitments. MSIPA had neither legal power to enforce policy changes on other agencies within the government nor to compel any other state agency to assume and carry out commitments’ implementation. Civil society was actively involved during the development of the action plan in the first half of 2016, but it did not participate in the implementation. Following June 2017 general elections, a new cabinet took office (September 2017) which dissolved MSIPA, leaving OGP without a coordination authority until the end of the implementation period. The Government of Albania did not prepare a self-assessment report for the 2016-2018 action plan. The multi-stakeholder forum, OpenAlb, an open platform which included at its highest point 15 organizations and facilitated civil society participation in the development of 2016-2018 action plan, has been inactive since December 2016.

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan. After September 2017, the OGP points of contact in the line ministries and other agencies in charge of this action plan’s commitments were no longer in place or had been assigned other portfolios. Thus, institutions responsible for implementation of commitments did not hold any follow-up meetings with civil society or provide any information on how commitments were dealt with. No OGP-related meetings took place during the second year of the action plan implementation (2017/2018). There has not been any other coordination activity of any state authority or of the multi-stakeholder forum OpenAlb.

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

Regular Multistakeholder Forum Midterm End of Term
1. Did a forum exist? Yes No
2. Did it meet regularly? No No

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[1] This spectrum shows the potential level of public influence on the contents of the action plan. In the spirit of OGP, most countries should aspire for “collaborative.”

Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation

Level of Public Influence during Implementation of Action Plan Midterm End of Term
Empower The government handed decision-making power to members of the public.    
Collaborate There was iterative dialogue AND the public helped set the agenda.    
Involve The government gave feedback on how public inputs were considered.    
Consult The public could give inputs.    
Inform The government provided the public with information on the action plan.  
No Consultation No consultation  

About the Assessment

The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual.[2] One measure, the “starred commitment” (✪), deserves further explanation due to its particular interest to readers and usefulness for encouraging a race to the top among OGP-participating countries. Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. To receive a star, a commitment must meet several criteria:

  • Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity. A commitment must lay out clearly defined activities and steps to make a judgment about its potential impact.
  • The commitment’s language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
  • The commitment would have a “transformative” potential impact if completely implemented.[3]
  • The government must make significant progress on this commitment during the action plan implementation period, receiving an assessment of “substantial” or “complete” implementation.

Starred commitments can lose their starred status if their completion falls short of substantial or full completion at the end of the action plan implementation period.

In the midterm report, Albania’s action plan contained one starred commitment. At the end of term, based on the changes in the level of completion, Albania’s action plan still contained one starred commitment:

  • Commitment 9: Implement Whistleblower Protection Law.

Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its reporting process. For the full dataset for Albania, see the OGP Explorer at www.opengovpartnership.org/explorer.

About “Did It Open Government?”

To capture changes in government practice, the IRM introduced a new variable “Did It Open Government?” in end-of-term reports. This variable attempts to move beyond measuring outputs and deliverables to looking at how the government practice has changed as a result of the commitment’s implementation.

As written, some OGP commitments are vague and/or not clearly relevant to OGP values but achieve significant policy reforms. In other cases, commitments as written appear relevant and ambitious, but fail to open government as implemented. The “Did It Open Government” variable attempts to captures these subtleties.

The “Did It Open Government?” variable assesses changes in government practice using the following spectrum:

  • Worsened: Government openness worsens as a result of the commitment.
  • Did not change: No changes in government practice.
  • Marginal: Some change, but minor in terms of its effect on level of openness.
  • Major: A step forward for government openness in the relevant policy area but remains limited in scope or scale.
  • Outstanding: A reform that has transformed “business as usual” in the relevant policy area by opening government.

To assess this variable, researchers establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan. They then assess outcomes as implemented for changes in government openness.

Readers should keep in mind limitations. IRM end-of-term reports are prepared only a few months after the implementation cycle is completed. The variable focuses on outcomes that can be observed in government openness practices at the end of the two-year implementation period. The report and the variable do not intend to assess impact because of the complex methodological implications and the timeframe of the report.

Commitment Implementation

General Overview of Commitments

As part of OGP, countries are required to make commitments in a two-year action plan. The tables below summarize the completion level at the end of term and progress on the “Did It Open Government?” metric. For commitments that were complete at the midterm, the report will provide a summary of the progress report findings but focus on analysis of the ‘Did It Open Government?’ variable. For further details on these commitments, please see the Albania IRM progress report 2017.

Albania’s third OGP action plan includes 17 commitments organized around four main themes: 1 open government to increase access to information; 2 open government for creating safer communities; 3 open government for public service modernization; and 4 open government to protect the environment. The IRM has not changed the organization of the commitments but has renumbered them for clarity. For example, Improvement of database/portal with coordinators’ data of the right to information and transparency programs is numbered ‘1’ rather than ‘1.1’.

[1] See http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/foundations_course/IAP2_P2_Spectrum_FINAL.pdf

[2] IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm.

[3] The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919.

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