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Georgia End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Major achievements of Georgia’s third OGP action plan include introducing verification of public officials’ asset declarations, launch of the budget monitor portal, as well as an Environmental Assessment Code designed to inform and engage citizens during permitting processes. The plan did not deliver on the commitment to introduce the Freedom of Information Act, a key priority for the civil society. 

Table 1: At a Glance
  Mid-term End of term
Number of Commitments 24
Level of Completion
Completed 6 10
Substantial 7 6
Limited 11 8
Not Started 0 0
Number of Commitments with…
Clear Relevance to OGP Values 17 17
Transformative Potential Impact 4 4
Substantial or Complete Implementation 13 16
All Three (✪) 3 3
Did It Open government?
Major 4
Outstanding 0
Moving Forward
Number of Commitments Carried Over to Next Action Plan 6

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 from July 2016 to July 2018 and includes some relevant developments up to October 2018.

The Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) serves as Open Government Georgia’s Secretariat. The OGP Forum, is a multistakeholder group supporting the development and implementation of the national action plan. The Forum is composed of around 40 members, including different public agencies, such as line ministries, independent entities, Legal Entities of Public Law (LEPL), civil society organizations (CSOs), international organizations, and several local self-governments. The commitments are carried out by various public agencies of the government, and both at national and local levels.

Georgia’s third action plan covered a wide range of areas compared to previous action plans, such as environment, energy, courts, and new implementing entities, such as municipal local governments. By midterm, the IRM identified three starred commitments, including the creation of the verification mechanism for monitoring public officials’ asset declarations, launching a unified online portal for increasing the transparency and accountability of public expenditures, and adopting the Environmental Assessment Code.

The Government of Georgia officially submitted its fourth National Action Plan (NAP) 2018−2019 to OGP on 30 November 2018.

Out of the unfinished commitments, only two are part of the new Action Plan for 2018−2019,[1] including a commitment for the Supreme Court to proactively publish court decisions in a unified database at http://info.court.ge, and a commitment for the State Procurement Agency to integrate annual procurement plans of procuring entities into the new database of aggregated tenders at http://opendata.spa.ge/#/ and published in open data format. Additionally, three new commitments in the 2018−2019 NAP are related to existing commitments: creation of the innovative platform for citizen engagement by Public Service Hall (Commitment 2 under the new NAP), launching a feedback mechanism for increased citizen participation in oversight of public finances by the State Audit Office (Commitment 11), and activating an electronic portal for meeting the Environmental Assessment Code requirements by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (Commitment 5). These commitments aim to improve the existing initiatives. Of these three, only one has not been fully implemented (Commitment 16 under the third action plan on the adoption of the Environmental Assessment Code).

Consultation with Civil Society during Implementation

Countries participating in OGP follow a process for consultation during development and implementation of their action plan.

Consultations during implementation were centralized, with all consultations occurring at the Ministry of Justice in the capital Tbilisi or via exchanging written comments and recommendations. The main coordination mechanism, the OGP Forum, met once every two or three months. Meeting agendas were split between discussing implementation of the third action plan, development of commitments for the new action plan, as well as the OGP Summit of July 2018 hosted by the Government of Georgia in Tbilisi. For this reason, discussions in the months prior to the Summit shifted toward planning this event.[2]

 

During the meetings that focused on the implementation process, the responsible agencies presented progress of their commitments and Forum members gave input on that implementation. On some occasions, the agencies provided feedback to Forum members.[3] However, this was not always the case.[4] Additionally, civil society was deeply disappointed with the lack of government commitment to promptly draft and submit a new freedom of information law to Parliament.[5] Regarding the creation of the online feedback mechanism, which was an IRM recommendation from previous progress reports, the only change was an OGP banner on the Ministry of Justice website through which the citizens could contact the Ministry and request information. However, according to Ministry representatives, this mechanism saw little use despite an interested populace, which indicates that the Ministry did not proactively promote it to the wider public.

Table 2: Consultation during Implementation

Regular Multistakeholder Forum Midterm End of Term
1. Did a forum exist? Yes Yes
2. Did it meet regularly? Yes Yes

 

 

Table 3: Level of Public Influence during Implementation

The IRM has adapted the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) “Spectrum of Participation” to apply to OGP.[6] This spectrum shows the potential level of public influence on the contents of the action plan. In the spirit of OGP, most countries should aspire for “collaborative.”

Level of Public Influence during Implementation of Action Plan Midterm End of Term
Empower The government handed decision-making power to members of the public.    
Collaborate There was iterative dialogue AND the public helped set the agenda.    
Involve The government gave feedback on how public inputs were considered.    
Consult The public could give inputs.
Inform The government provided the public with information on the action plan.    
No Consultation No consultation    

 About the Assessment

The indicators and method used in the IRM research can be found in the IRM Procedures Manual.[7] One measure, the “starred commitment” (✪), deserves further explanation due to its particular interest to readers and usefulness for encouraging a race to the top among OGP-participating countries. Starred commitments are considered exemplary OGP commitments. To receive a star, a commitment must meet several criteria:

  • Starred commitments will have “medium” or “high” specificity. A commitment must lay out clearly defined activities and steps to make a judgment about its potential impact.
  • The commitment’s language should make clear its relevance to opening government. Specifically, it must relate to at least one of the OGP values of Access to Information, Civic Participation, or Public Accountability.
  • The commitment would have a “transformative” potential impact if completely implemented.[8]
  • The government must make significant progress on this commitment during the action plan implementation period, receiving an assessment of “substantial” or “complete” implementation.

Starred commitments can lose their starred status if their completion falls short of substantial or full completion at the end of the action plan implementation period.

In the midterm report, Georgia’s action plan contained three starred commitments. At the end of term, the number of starred commitments had not changed and remains three.

Finally, the tables in this section present an excerpt of the wealth of data the IRM collects during its reporting process. For the full dataset for Georgia, see the OGP Explorer at http://www.opengovpartnership.org/explorer.

About “Did It Open Government?”

To capture changes in government practice, the IRM introduced a new variable “Did It Open Government?” in end-of-term reports. This variable attempts to move beyond measuring outputs and deliverables to looking at how the government practice has changed as a result of the commitment’s implementation.

As written, some OGP commitments are vague and/or not clearly relevant to OGP values but achieve significant policy reforms. In other cases, commitments as written appear relevant and ambitious, but fail to open government as implemented. The “Did It Open Government” variable attempts to captures these subtleties.

The “Did It Open Government?” variable assesses changes in government practice using the following spectrum:

  • Worsened: Government openness worsens as a result of the commitment.
  • Did not change: No changes in government practice.
  • Marginal: Some change, but minor in terms of its effect on level of openness.
  • Major: A step forward for government openness in the relevant policy area but remains limited in scope or scale.
  • Outstanding: A reform that has transformed “business as usual” in the relevant policy area by opening government.

To assess this variable, researchers establish the status quo at the outset of the action plan. They then assess outcomes as implemented for changes in government openness.

Readers should keep in mind limitations. IRM end-of-term reports are prepared only a few months after the implementation cycle is completed. The variable focuses on outcomes that can be observed in government openness practices at the end of the two-year implementation period. The report and the variable do not intend to assess impact because of the complex methodological implications and the time frame of the report.

Commitment Implementation

General Overview of Commitments

As part of OGP, countries are required to make commitments in a two-year action plan. The tables below summarize the completion level at the end of term and progress on the “Did It Open Government?” metric. For commitments that were complete at the midterm, the report will provide a summary of the progress report findings but focus on analysis of the “Did It Open Government?” variable. For further details on these commitments, please see the Georgia IRM progress report 2016−2017.

The third action plan focused on three key areas: improving the integrity of public administration agencies, improving the quality of public services, and improving the efficiency of using community resources.

All five OGP grand challenges—improving public services, increasing public integrity, more effectively managing public resources, creating safer communities, and increasing corporate accountability—were addressed by the government.

The IRM did not change the initial structure of the action plan as approved by the government. Due to the technical nature of the milestones, both midterm and end-of-term reports provided assessment at the commitment level, not at the milestone level. Finally, the assessment methodology did not change between the midterm and the end of term.

[1] Government of Georgia, Georgia Action Plan 2018-2019, (OGP, 4 Dec. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/georgia-action-plan-2018-2019.

[2] Levan Avalishvii (Programs Director) and Saba Buadze (Anti-Corruption Direction Head), interview with IRM researchers, 22 Aug. 2018.

[3] Id.

[4] George Topouria (Senior Analyst, Transparency International Georgia), interview with IRM researchers, 23 Aug. 2018.

[5] Transparency International and the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, interview with IRM researchers, Aug. 2018.

[6] See http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iap2.org/resource/resmgr/foundations_course/IAP2_P2_Spectrum_FINAL.pdf.

[7] IRM Procedures Manual, http://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/about-irm.

[8] The International Experts Panel changed this criterion in 2015. For more information, visit http://www.opengovpartnership.org/node/5919.

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