Albania Mid-Term Report 2014-2016
Gjergji Vurmo, independent researcher
Albania has made progress in implementing commitments involving direct citizen participation in the fight against corruption. For the next action plan, successful models of citizen complaint can be strengthened and expanded to new areas of government activity. Judicial reform and political party financing are especially important.
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. Albania began participating in OGP in September, 2011. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) carries out a biannual review of the activities of each OGP participating country.
The Minister of State for Innovation and Public Administration (MSIPA) is the lead institution coordinating OGP in Albania. The Inter-Ministerial Working Group (IWG), lead by MSIPA, is responsible for the development and implementation of the action plan (AP). Its membership is limited to representatives of government agencies. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are not included.
Countries participating in the OGP follow a process for consultation during development of their OGP action plan and during implementation.
Compared to the previous action plan cycle, the process of Albania’s second OGP Action Plan development has demonstrated significant improvement. The CSO Coalition for OGP Albania formed in December 2013, assuming the leading role in holding participatory consultations. The CSO Coalition organized a conference with the government on 28 March, 2014, which was used as a forum for consultations with CSOs. From April to June 2014, MSIPA also launched an online consultation and held several individual in-person meetings with various CSOs. However, the consultation meetings were held only in Tirana. Summaries of consultative events and the 25 recommendations presented by CSOs have been published online.
During the action plan implementation, MSIPA maintained an open channel of communication and exchange with interested CSOs.
Government-to-government meetings remain closed; civil society organizations have not been invited to IWG’s meetings, and no regular meetings with CSOs have taken place. The government published the midterm self-assessment report on 13 October, 2015. Albania has made progress in implementing commitments involving direct citizen participation in the fight against corruption. For the next action plan, successful models of citizen complaint can be strengthened and expanded to new areas of government activity. Judicial reform and political party financing are especially important.
As part of OGP participation, countries make commitments in a two-year action plan. The Albania action plan contains thirteen commitments. The following tables summarize for each commitment the level of completion, potential impact, whether it falls within Albania’s planned schedule and the key next steps for the commitment in future OGP action plans. Similar commitments have been grouped and re-ordered in order to make reading easier. The IRM method includes starred commitments. These commitments are measurable, clearly relevant to OGP values as written, of transformative potential impact, and substantially or completely implemented. The Albania action plan contains no starred commitments. Note that the IRM updated the star criteria in early 2015 in order to raise the bar for model OGP commitments. The old criteria included commitments that have moderate potential impact. Under the old criteria, Albania would have received 4 starred commitments (Commitments 4.2, 1.1, 1.3, 3.3). See (bit.ly/1n6xNHB) for more information.
Albania has made progress in setting more concrete commitments that increase opportunities for citizen participation in the anti-corruption initiatives. However, more could be done by mainstreaming public accountability and civic participation commitments throughout government. In particular, there is a need for commitments that promote open government approaches in developing key sectorial reforms and initiatives, including judicial reform, political party financing, and the ongoing debate on integrity of elected, high-level public officials. Based on the challenges and findings identified in this report, this section presents the principal recommendations.
Top Five SMART Recommendations
- Establish an ongoing multi-stakeholder forum, and develop a comprehensive management (at least quarterly monitoring) and reporting framework for the Action Plan Implementation.
- Undertake more ambitious and OGP-relevant commitments that place citizens and interest groups in an interactive role in the areas of anticorruption, fighting impunity, enhancing transparency, and accountability. The government could provide more opportunities to direct citizen input and monitoring, building on the models of corruption denouncing portal and digital commissariats.
- Promote open government approaches in developing key sectorial reforms and initiatives, including judicial reform, political party financing, and the ongoing debate on the integrity of elected and high-level public officials.
- Civil society must take stock of the OGP process and better streamline OGP content in its agenda.
- Dedicate a specific budget and human resources to the National Coordinator who deals with the OGP Action Plan development, implementation and monitoring, as well as national promotion of Albania’s OGP Agenda with the public, interested stakeholders, public administration and the community of donors.