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Croatia Design Report 2018-2020

Commitments in Croatia’s third action plan continue from initiatives in prior action plans and focus on access to information, anti-corruption measures, and improving online government services. Stakeholders can consider using the next plan to further transparency in public spending and improve the operating environment for civil society.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2011

Action plan under review: Third

Report type: Design

Number of commitments: 15

 

Action plan development

Is there a Multistakeholder forum: Yes

Level of public influence: Collaborate

Acted contrary to OGP process: No

 

Action plan design

Commitments relevant to OGP values:     15 (100%)

Transformative commitments:                    4 (27%)

Potentially starred:                                      4 (27%)

Action plan implementation

Starred commitments: N/A

Completed commitments: N/A

Commitments with Major DIOG:* N/A

Commitments with Outstanding DIOG:* N/A

 

*DIOG: Did it Open Government?

The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global partnership that brings together government reformers and civil society leaders to create action plans that make governments more inclusive, responsive, and accountable. The Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Croatia joined OGP in 2011. Since, Croatia has implemented two action plans. This report evaluates the design of Croatia’s third action plan.

 

General overview of action plan

Political instability and frequent governmental changes since 2015 have relegated OGP to the margins of the political agenda in Croatia. The action plan development process lasted for over three years.

Despite the delays, Croatia’s OGP Council conducted a consultation process that was generally meaningful and participatory. The Council is a multistakeholder forum, streamlining communication between government bodies and other actors, such as civil society members, involved in OGP initiatives. It represents government, local, and regional authorities, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the academic community.

The 2018−2020 action plan mostly continues or builds upon previous commitments. It contains a diversity of themes, including participation in public policy, local open government, and the sustainability of the OGP initiative in Croatia. Within these themes range commitments from political financing transparency to media regulatory frameworks to capacity building for civil society anti-corruption monitoring.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle.
Commitment 2:  Fiscal Transparency

Secure and publish timely, accurate budgetary information at the state, local, and regional level.

If implemented, this will be the first time that comprehensive data on local and regional self-governments’ spending is available in an open format. The government could strive to reach the 5th star-level of data design and provide mechanisms for civil society input on data disclosures. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 3: Political Financing and Election Campaign Transparency

Amend legislation and carry out training to enhance disclosure of the financing of political activities, elections, and referenda.

The commitment will, for the first time, regulate campaign finances for referenda and set up a permanently accessible and easily searchable database of political financing. This commitment could be followed by regulating political lobbying and monitoring the legislative footprints of MPs, government, and other officials in the next OGP action plan. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 6: Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

Strengthen legislation protecting whistleblowers.

This commitment would establish rules and mechanisms to ensure whistleblowers in Croatia are better protected and that public authorities are held accountable more swiftly. The Act on Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption should be adopted and implemented according to its provisions, and the IRM researcher proposes that the lead institution use the remaining implementation time to ensure that the entities subject to the Act are in compliance with those provisions, especially in adopting internal regulations and naming the responsible persons. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 11: Central State Portal Development

Continue development of the Portal, e-services, and the “My Administration” page.

The most potentially impactful milestone in this commitment is the further development of the e-Citizens system to offer new e-services and with that, raise civic participation and create new communication channels for citizens and businesses with various public authorities. For the system to be more effective, all state authorities need to be incorporated in the gov.hr portal and new electronic services from all public sector bodies need to be included in the e-Citizens system. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.

 

Recommendations

The IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

1. Make the OGP process a major strategic framework to ensure OGP values constitute the foundation for all of the state’s key programs.
2. Include vulnerable and minority groups in the OGP process to close critical gaps in information, access, and participation.
3. Regulate lobbying, especially for the executive branch, and require lobbyists to publish certain information relevant to their work.
4. Increase transparency of public spending, especially in the areas of beneficial ownership, public contracting, and state funding for religious institutions.
5. Strengthen the operating environment for civil society through the new national strategy for the creation and enabling environment for civil society development and non-discriminatory application of legal principles governing civic space.

 

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Filed under: IRM IRM Report

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