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Georgia Design Report 2018-2019

Georgia’s fourth action plan includes initiatives undertaken by the central government, the Parliament, and several local municipalities. Despite the range of topics covered, many commitments aim for minor improvements and do not clearly align with stakeholder priorities identified during the consultations. Moving forward, the next action plan could be more focused on commitments relevant for anti-corruption, such as disclosure of beneficial ownership, improvement of public procurement practices, and fulfillment of the long-standing commitment to adopt the Freedom of Information Law.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since: 2011
Action plan under review: 4
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 28

Action plan development
Is there a Multi-stakeholder forum: Yes
Level of public influence: Involve
Acted contrary to OGP process: No

Action plan design
Commitments relevant to OGP values:           26 (93%)
Transformative commitments:        0
Potentially starred:                          0

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. Georgia joined OGP in 2011. Since then, Georgia has implemented three action plans. This report evaluates the design of Georgia’s fourth action plan.

General overview of action plan

Since joining OGP, Georgia has introduced many transparency and good governance reforms, particularly around public officials’ asset declarations, budget monitoring, and public service delivery. Georgia has taken a leadership role in OGP by serving as co-chair in 2016, hosting the 2018 Global Summit, and being re-elected to the OGP Steering Committee in 2019.

To develop the fourth action plan, the Ministry of Justice conducted several public consultations throughout the country. Civil society representatives withdrew from the multi-stakeholder forum due to disagreements with the government over the decision-making process and the action plan’s lack of ambition. Georgia’s co-creation process reached “involve” for the level of public influence. This was lower than rating for the previous action plan’s process (which reached “collaborate”).

In 2019, the multi-stakeholder forum secretariat transferred from the Ministry of Justice to the Administration of the Government of Georgia, a move that civil society welcomed. The fourth action plan also saw the inclusion of Open Parliament commitments through consultations led by the Open Governance Permanent Parliamentary Council.

Unlike all previous Georgian action plans, the fourth plan does not have any potentially transformative commitments. Despite overall lower ambition, the commitments cover a wide range of thematic issues, including public services, court decisions, and budget information. In addition, they cover new areas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, homelessness, and information disclosure by state-owned enterprises. The action plan also includes numerous commitments on improving open government at the municipal level and in Parliament.

Notable commitments at the national level include those working toward publishing court decisions in a unified database, increasing transparency of the public grant-funding system, and improving transparency and efficiency of public procurement. Other notable commitments involve developing strategies for transparency and integrity in eight municipalities and creating a Citizen Engagement Center in the Parliament of Georgia.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
Commitment 9: Publish court decisions in a unified database and create a retrieval system The Supreme Court of Georgia aims to improve access to court decisions by upgrading the newly created registry. A public awareness campaign could help increase the visibility of the registry. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 12: Increase transparency of the public grant-funding system This commitment aims to introduce a national regulatory standard for issuing governmental grants. Moving forward, it will be useful to create a tool for monitoring and evaluating the unified standard regulations. It would also be useful to create a unified website with information on all governmental grant opportunities. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 13: Electronic innovations for more transparency and efficiency of public procurement This commitment seeks to improve the availability and usability of procurement data on the opendata.spa.ge portal. It also seeks to better align the information on the portal to the Open Contracting Data Standard. Moving forward, the IRM researcher recommends that the State Procurement Agency publish detailed CPV codes of specific goods or services procured, as well as information on subcontractors. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 16: Strengthen transparency and good governance in municipalities This commitment aims to develop transparency strategies in eight Georgian municipalities, with support from international donor organizations. For better coordination of local initiatives, a platform could be established to share best open government practices across the municipalities. Note: this will be assessed at the end of action plan cycle.
Commitment 27: Create a Citizen Engagement Center in the Parliament of Georgia The new Citizen Engagement Center could develop an evaluation mechanism to assess the overall effectiveness of the Center. This could include tracking the number of persons who engage the Center, types of questions and requests, petitions, and engagement cases. The evaluation could also monitor service quality and feedback opportunities. Note: this will be assessed at the end of 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. For the next action plan, the IRM researcher recommends that the government focus on fewer, more ambitious commitments targeting key policy areas still on the agendas of stakeholders. Commitments in the next plan should form part of a cohesive open government strategy through which Georgia aims to achieve tangible results around key priority areas.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Strengthen the co-creation process by mandating the role of the multi-stakeholder forum and developing guidelines aligned with the OGP Participation and Co-Creation Standards
Promptly adopt the Freedom of Information Law
Conduct an independent, objective, and politically neutral comprehensive assessment of the country’s anti-corruption needs and the effectiveness of current institutional frameworks to address the same.
Expand the national action plan policy areas to cover beneficial ownership transparency and establish a registry of beneficial owners of foreign companies that hold assets in Georgia and participate in public procurement.
Continue efforts to publish public procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard.

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