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Bulgaria Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Bulgaria’s third national action plan addressed a range of issues from access to information and civic participation, to anti-corruption efforts. Much of the action plan focused on enhancing information technologies and e-services. Moving forward, the government should focus on involving civil society in more meaningful dialogue and co-creation of ambitious commitments clearly relevant to OGP values.

Highlights

Commitment Overview Well-Designed?*
3.1.2. Introducing a citizen budget in the Sofia Municipality A recommendation from the 2014–2015 IRM Progress Report, the Sofia Municipality will create and publish a citizen budget to increase public accessibility of municipal budgetary information, only the second publication of this type in Bulgaria. No
4а.1.2. Introducing e- petition in law and reducing red tape If fully implemented, this commitment would introduce e-petitions for national and local initiatives and lower the prohibitory legal requirements for initiating referenda and passing them with a binding decision. No
5.1.5. Beneficial ownership disclosure in public contracts This commitment would amend the Public Procurement Act to require companies to disclose beneficial ownership for certain contracts and establish an oversight mechanism, improving the openness of the public procurement system in the country. No

*Commitment is evaluated by the IRM as specific, relevant, and has a transformative potential impact

Process

The government improved its consultation practices compared to the development of the previous action plans. It provided advance notice, some awareness-raising efforts and published the self-assessment report. The government did not, however, convene a forum for regular consultation during the first year of implementation.

Did not act contrary to OGP process

A country is considered to have acted contrary to process if one or more of the following occurs:

  • The National Action Plan was developed with neither online or offline engagements with citizens and civil society
  • The government fails to engage with the IRM researchers in charge of the country’s Year 1 and Year 2 reports
  • The IRM report establishes that there was no progress made on implementing any of the commitments in the country’s action plan

Performance

Bulgaria’s third action plan contained 37 commitments, loosely grouped into six themes (e-government, access to information, open cities, civic participation, public integrity, and open data). The first year of implementation saw at least substantial completion of more than a third of the commitments. Overall ambition of the commitments was low with only two judged to have a transformative potential impact on opening government.

IRM Recommendations

  1. Establish a nationwide, permanent mechanism discussing OGP implementation, with regular meetings and clear rules.
  2. To ensure continuity, the OGP team and individual implementing bodies need to ensure transfer of institutional memory during transitions and establish a repository of all commitments. Such repository should contain full history files on each commitment including information on how the commitment was formulated; what other strategic documents contain the commitment; stakeholder comments on the commitment content and implementation.
  3. The next action plan could include a commitment for the National Assembly to publish all laws (and their equivalent) or higher legislation in their full consolidated texts online, free of charge and with a guarantee of authenticity and precision.
  4. Provide citizens with the possibility for e-initiatives and lower the thresholds on initiating and passing referendums, through the amendment of the Law for Direct Participation of Citizens in Government and Local Government.
  5. Expand the initiative creating accessible language budgets for the citizens of other major municipalities such as Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, and Russe.

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Filed under: IRM Report

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