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Latvia Design Report 2019-2021

Latvia’s 2019-2021 action plan addresses relevant national issues on open data, public procurement transparency, and participation in local government. The co-creation process introduced a new multistakeholder forum and civil society and government officials collaborated closely on the development of commitments. Greater involvement from high level and political officials could ensure more impactful commitments related to public participation and greater ambition for lobbying regulation.

Table 1. At a glance

Participating since:  2011
Action plan under review: 4
Report type: Design
Number of commitments: 6

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: 83%
Transformative commitments: 0
Potentially starred commitments: 0

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

General overview of action plan

Latvia’s 2019–2021 action plan addresses relevant national challenges for government transparency. Commitments on public procurement, open data, corruption prevention and lobbying transparency build on the initiatives in previous OGP action plans. For the first time, the plan includes a commitment on local government that envisions openness standards for municipalities with more transparent local level decision-making. Upcoming structural reforms to local government make this a timely commitment.

Latvia’s fourth action plan was developed in a collaborative manner between civil society and government representatives. An improvement from the last cycle saw input from the public sought early on in the co-creation process. A new multistakeholder forum drafted the commitments in thematic working groups and focused on proposals that are not already covered by other government plans.

The multistakeholder forum could benefit from being formalised while involvement in the process by high-level representatives such as politically appointed officials and elected officials, could ensure more strategic and ambitious commitments. The process would also benefit from transparent feedback about how public input is used and ongoing communication.

Despite appearing in previous action plans, the commitment on lobbying regulation introduces a minor activity rather than a comprehensive legislative reform or implementation framework which is being conducted outside the scope of the OGP action plan. Although the commitment on corruption prevention will have moderate impact, it does not include measures that are sufficiently public facing to be relevant to public accountability.

Table 2. Noteworthy commitments

Commitment description Moving forward Status at the end of implementation cycle
Commitment 1: Transparency of Public Procurements and Contracts Institutions could prioritise the publication of contracts related to Covid-19 which would make the commitment more relevant to current pressures and issues in procurement. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 3: Transparency of Interest Representation and lobbying Expand and ensure the implementation of open calendars to all decision makers in public administration with minimum disclosure requirements (e.g. date, attendees, agenda) Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.
Commitment 4: Open government in local governments Engage a broad variety of citizens, including those from marginalised or vulnerable groups, in the process of developing regulations and guidance for municipalities about participation. Note: this will be assessed at the end of the action plan cycle.

Recommendations

IRM recommendations aim to inform the development of the next action plan and guide implementation of the current action plan. Please refer to Section V: General Recommendations for more details on each of the below recommendations.

Table 3. Five KEY IRM Recommendations

Ensure the multistakeholder forum is transparent and publishes feedback during co-creation, as well as formalise its ways of working.
Include high-level representatives with authority from government in the multistakeholder forum, to make decisions and help push for more ambitious commitments.
Continue improvements to open contracting by adopting the Open Contracting Data Standard for all public procurement.
Enhance civic participation opportunities by incorporating deliberative democracy methods that will help to ensure the engagement of a broad variety of citizens, including vulnerable or marginalised groups.
In collaboration with the Saeima, implement comprehensive lobbying transparency reform

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