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Kyrgyz Republic Transitional Results Report 2018-2020

The Open Government Partnership 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. Action plan commitments may build on existing efforts, identify new steps to complete ongoing reforms, or initiate an entirely new area. OGP’s Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) monitors all action plans to ensure governments follow through on commitments. Civil society and government leaders use the evaluations to reflect on their progress and determine if efforts have impacted people’s lives.

The IRM has partnered with Tatevik Margaryan, independent researcher, to carry out this evaluation. The IRM aims to inform ongoing dialogue around the development and implementation of future commitments. For a full description of the IRM’s methodology, please visit https://www.opengovpartnership.org/about/independent-reporting-mechanism.

This report covers the implementation of the Kyrgyz Republic’s first action plan for 2018–2020 and was prepared in July–August 2021. Starting 2021, the IRM implemented a new approach to its research process and the scope of its reporting on action plans, approved by the IRM Refresh.[1] The IRM adjusted its Implementation Reports for 2018–2020 action plans to fit the transition process to the new IRM products and enable the IRM to adjust its workflow in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on OGP country processes.

Action Plan Implementation

The IRM Transitional Results Report assesses the status of the action plan’s commitments and the results from their implementation at the end of the action plan cycle. This report does not re-visit the assessments for “Verifiability,” “Relevance” or “Potential Impact.” The IRM assesses those three indicators in IRM Design Reports. For more details on each indicator, please see Annex I in this report.

General Highlights and Results

The first national action plan of Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic), approved by a government decree in 2018,[2] originally included 18 commitments covering areas such as judicial openness, public procurement, fiscal transparency, citizen engagement, open data, and other topics relevant for the country. Four multi-part Open Parliament Initiative commitments were added in 2019, which are assessed as eight commitments in this report, to reflect each of the separate initiatives (labeled as sub-commitments in the action plan).[3] Implementation varied depending on the lead government agency, funding, and involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs). Overall, out of 26 commitments, ten were either fully or substantially completed, three were not started, and thirteen saw limited implementation.

Civil society stakeholders interviewed for this report mentioned limited government ownership and commitment during the implementation process. This had several reasons: limited engagement of agencies in commitment design (e.g., in CSO-proposed commitments), cabinet changes that shifted commitment leadership, lack of OGP-awareness by newcomers, and general political and COVID-related challenges.

Commitments with strong ownership from implementing agencies had better implementation and sustainability. For example, Commitment 1 on open data and Commitment 25 on public procurement transparency were initiated by state bodies and substantially implemented, though the resulting data tools need improvement. Commitment 18 on transparent election financing was completed due to the active work of the Central Electoral Committee. Conversely, commitments related to the state judicial acts register, access to archival documents, and disclosure of state property information made limited progress due to a lack of effort, and even resistance, by state bodies.

Commitments with active civil society involvement and donor support also showed progress and saw more public outreach. Milestones in Commitments 20 and 24 related to local self-government budget transparency were promoted by CSOs and received support from the State Agency for Local Self-Government and Interethnic Relations (in 2021, this agency became the State Agency for Regional Development). Support from international organizations also played a key role in implementation, especially for commitments that needed significant financial resources for software and technical assistance. For example, the World Bank supported implementation of the open data commitment. Likewise, the International Center for Non-Profit Law (ICNL) meaningfully contributed to implementing the commitment on civil society assessment of terrorism-financing risks, by providing expertise and field training. UNDP support was also critical for the commitment on election financing transparency, by creating a web platform, building capacity, and raising awareness.

The European Union and USAID assisted with creating a portal for public discussion of draft regulations. This commitment has shown major early results. The new platform publishes draft acts developed by the government and allows public comment. It also allows citizens to present suggestions on amendments to existing legal acts or for developing new ones. Though still in pilot mode, the portal incited advocacy campaigns against some controversial legal drafts, such as an amendment to a law on non-commercial organizations and a draft law on the “guillotine” method of reviewing legislation. If publication of drafts on the platform becomes mandatory for law-making bodies beyond the government, the platform could be a significant tool for participatory policymaking.

Another commitment with major results was the commitment for transparency in election financing and campaigns. This commitment established the regulatory basis for publishing information on election and referendum expenditures, as well as on the income and spending of candidates. A platform was created for publishing reports on election campaign funds, allowing CSOs and citizens to monitor spending and point out any inconsistencies.

Other noteworthy commitments include implementation and promotion of an open data policy, which improved accessibility of government-held information, providing open data format and API access to 646 datasets, although not regularly updated currently. Trainings and discussions organized by the commitment framework helped raise awareness and improve understanding and application of open data concepts. A commitment increasing public procurement transparency made it possible to track the post-tender stage developments and produce procurement reports on selected criteria from the public procurement website. However, access to contract text and post-tender documentation has not been provided yet. The commitment involving civil society’s risk assessment of terrorist activities among nonprofits saw progress; civil society-government collaboration developed a risk assessment methodology and implemented a pilot assessment by a joint working group.

In 2019, Kyrgyzstan started the Open Parliament initiative; as a result, eight new commitments were added to the action plan aimed at improving access to information and citizen engagement with parliament.[4] However, the level of implementation and any results from these additional commitments have yet to be seen. Though a working group was formed to prepare and monitor open parliament initiatives, there was limited engagement and motivation by the parliamentarians to implement the plan, and any achievements reported have been mostly due to efforts by international organizations and CSOs, with involvement of a few parliamentarians. Among these eight commitments, two have not been started, four have made limited progress, and two showed substantial progress. The commitments with substantial progress included civil society participation in parliamentary monitoring and evaluation of implementing laws, activities of state bodies accountable to parliament, and stronger interaction between the Jogorku Kenesh (the parliament) and the local communities.

Unlike other countries, the OGP process in Kyrgyzstan is managed by a Secretariat which is an independent body outside of the government, funded by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)—Bishkek Office. This support helped provide a group of full-time experts engaged in the action plan’s public relations, monitoring, and coordination. However, weak ownership by the government poses risks to the process’ sustainability and enforcement of government participation.

It should be noted that Kyrgyzstan underwent several political challenges after the action plan implementation period, including post-election protests followed by the annulation of parliamentary elections in October 2020, snap presidential elections, and a constitutional referendum changing the political system from the parliamentary system introduced in 2010 back to a presidential system. These developments were accompanied by several changes of the government cabinet, which further affected the action plan implementation and government ownership of OGP processes.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Implementation

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected OGP processes in Kyrgyzstan, including the regular meetings of the National Forum (their multistakeholder forum) and the launch of the co-creation process for the next action plan. National Forum meetings have not occurred since the start of the pandemic, and there were no remote meetings either. However, implementation of the commitments was only moderately affected as most of the implementation processes were already embedded in their enforcing regulations, supported by donors, or in CSO projects. Implementation of several milestones was postponed, particularly those concerning the Ministry of Health and those entailing activities of working groups and committees. Under some commitments, online meetings were organized by CSOs and state agencies to ensure ongoing consultations with civil society as needed.

The significance of, and demand for, open data increased, especially concerning COVID-19 statistics and spending. Many CSOs advocated for transparency in COVID-19 aid and spending.[5] The Ministry of Health[6] added a webpage on COVID-19 that presents statistics on daily cases and information on humanitarian assistance received.[7] Using data provided by the ministry, an NGO, the School of Data, created a portal of open data on COVID-19 where statistics are presented in charts and via downloadable databases.[8]

 

[1] For more information, see: IRM Refresh, Open Government Partnership, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/process/accountability/about-the-irm/irm-refresh/.

[2] Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, Resolution of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic No 360 (16 Oct. 2018), http://cbd.minjust.gov.kg/act/view/ru-ru/216612.

[3] Note that the numbering of commitments in this report follows the order of commitments in the revised action plan, submitted in 2019. See Annex II for correspondence between numbering of commitments in this report, and numbering of commitments in the IRM design report and the original and revised versions of the action plan.

[4] Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, National Action Plan on building of the Open Government in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2018-2020 (OGP, 2019), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Kyrgyz-Republic_Action-Plan_2018-2020_REV.pdf.

[5] OGP Kyrgyzstan, “Г.Ускенбаева: Гражданская организация «Открытое правительство» ждет от правительства отчет по внешней помощи на борьбу с COVID-19” [G. Uskenbaeva: The ‘Open Government’ civic organization expects from the government a report on external assistance to combat COVID-19] (25 May 2020), http://ogp.el.kg/ru/news/guskenbaeva-grazhdanskaya-organizaciya-otkrytoe-pravitelstvo-zhdet-ot-pravitelstva-otchet-po.

[6] In 2021, the Ministry of Health was merged with the Ministry of Labor and Social Development to form the Ministry of Health and Social Development based on Government Resolution No. 38 “On organizational measures in connection with the approval of the new structure of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and the reform of the executive authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic” dated 12 February 2021 (http://cbd.minjust.gov.kg/act/view/ru-ru/158019?cl=ru-ru).

[7] See http://www.med.kg/ru/informatsii.html.

[8] See https://opendatacovid.kg/.

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