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Georgia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Georgia has shown significant progress in increasing access to information through using open data and improving public participation mechanisms in decision-making. The three most important commitments – developing a separate Freedom of Information Act, a petitions web-portal for citizens, and an interactive crime statistics and map system – were not implemented by the government. These commitments were highly demanded by local civil society and directly addressed open government values of transparency, public accountability, and civic participation.

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 of the period July 2014 to June 2016 and includes some relevant developments up to September 2016.

In Georgia, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and its Analytical Department is in charge of coordinating the development and implementation of the OGP national action plan. However, this agency does not have legal power to enforce policy changes within other governmental agencies, especially given that the Head of Government, the Prime Minister, is not directly involved in the plan development and implementation. As a result of the MoJ’s limited mandate, the action plan heavily focuses on public services, which are the responsibility of the Ministry’s subordinated agencies. Further, the government has not dedicated a separate budget or staff to OGP, which is part of the existing expenditure programs under the state budget.

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) were involved in the action plan development and implementation processes by participating in a multi-party interagency coordination mechanism called Georgia’s Open Government Forum (Forum).

The Forum played a key role in developing Georgia’s 2014-2015 national action plan. Specifically, Forum members were involved actively in planning and conducting OGP public consultation meetings across the country and incorporating public feedback into the final document. The Forum played a coordination and facilitation role in the development of the 2014-2015 OGP national action plan, including developing one commitment. However, the Forum lacked legal authority to compel government agencies to take OGP related actions, despite the fact that the commitments were approved by a special Government decree and hence, legally binding. In July 2016, the MoJ published for public comment the first draft of the 2016-2017 OGP national action plan for Georgia’s third cycle. On 24 October 2016, the MoJ shared with stakeholders, including the IRM researcher, the second updated draft. The information provided below is based on this latest draft and details whether remaining commitments were carried over to the third national action plan.

The Georgian government carried over five commitments to the next 2016-2017 action plan with no significant modifications. These include the development of the new Freedom of Information (FoI) law, implementing a monitoring system for public officials’ asset declarations, a new communication channel to connect with the Emergency Center 112 and two commitments on increasing transparency of surveillance and procurement data. CSOs and the IRM researcher deemed three commitments to be most important: developing a separate Freedom of Information Act, an online petitions portal, and an interactive crime statistics and maps system. However, these were not implemented by the government and only the FoI commitment was carried over to the next action plan, according to the latest draft as of October 2016.

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Filed under: IRM Report

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