Lithuania Action Plan Review 2021-2023
- Action Plan: Lithuania Action Plan 2021-2023
- Dates Under Review: 2021-2023
- Report Publication Year: 2022
This product consists of an IRM review of Lithuania’s 2021-2023 Action plans are at the core of a government’s participation in OGP. They are the product of a co-creation process in which government and civil society jointly develop commitments to open governmen.... The action plan is made up of three commitments. This review emphasizes its analysis on the strength of the action plan to contribute to implementation and results. For the commitment-by-commitment data see Annex 1. For details regarding the methodology and indicators used by the IRM for this Action Plan Review, see Section III: Methodology and IRM Indicators.
Overview of the 2021-2023 Action Plan
Lithuania’s fifth action plan offers commitments for three new policy areas, with promising commitments on establishing a public beneficial ownership register and opening all procurement data in open format. Ensuring there are no restrictions to accessing beneficial ownership data and creating mechanisms for reporting irregularities in Transparency in the procurement process can help combat corruption and waste that plagues a significant portion of public procurement budgets globally. Technical specifications: Commitments enhancing ... would enhance implementation of these commitments.
|AT A GLANCE
Participating since: 2011
Action plan under review: 2021-2023
IRM product: Action Plan Review
Number of commitments: 3
Overview of commitments:
Policy areas carried over from previous action plans: 0
Emerging policy areas:
Compliance with OGP All OGP participating countries are expected to adhere to the Participation and Co-Creation Standards. Each Standard includes clear and measurable minimum requirements that all OGP participating count... for Co-creation:
Lithuania’s fifth action plan includes three commitments that address new policy areas – beneficial ownership According to OGP’s Articles of Governance, transparency occurs when “government-held information (including on activities and decisions) is open, comprehensive, timely, freely available to the pub... More, publishing public procurement data in open format, and standardizing how the government communicates the potential social impact of draft legislation to the public. This marks a change from the fourth action plan (2018-2020), which mostly carried forward unfinished commitments from the third plan (2016-2018).
The fifth action plan generally responds to stakeholder priorities and offers commitments that are potentially more impactful compared to the previous plan. OGP commitments are promises for reform co-created by governments and civil society and submitted as part of an action plan. Commitments typically include a description of the problem, concrete action... 1 aims to develop a publicly available beneficial ownership register. Lithuania remains one of only three EU Member States that has yet to develop a beneficial ownership register open to the public (a requirement of the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive), and this commitment would provide this information to citizens and journalists for the first time. Commitment 2 will result in the publication of all procurement data in open format, as well as significantly more data than previously available. Commitment 3 could result in a standard, user-friendly template for the government to inform the public about the potential social impact of important draft legislation.
During co-creation, an initial electronic survey received 18 proposals, 14 of which came from citizens and civil society (including the three in the action plan). The proposals were discussed in detail at a consultation in May 2020, where more than 50 participants voted on which proposals to prioritize. Beneficial ownership and public procurement received the most votes, while the future Commitment 3 received the fifth most votes. The Office of the Government organized four working group consultations in 2020 where participants discussed the five selected proposals in detail and decided on which to include as commitments.
Compared to the previous co-creation process, the fifth action plan’s process was generally more inclusive and participatory. Participants at the public consultations were able to directly vote on which proposals to prioritize, and the results were published online. However, there is still room for greater transparency around possible changes to the scope of the commitments that were introduced following consultations with responsible institutions. For example, from publicly available information, it is unclear why the scope of Commitment 1 on beneficial ownership became narrower from Transparency International (TI) Lithuania’s original proposal, if the changes were introduced unilaterally by the Ministry of Justice, or what participants of the public consultations who voted for its inclusion thought about the changes. The IRM reiterates its recommendation from the 2018-2020 Design Report to publish a written summary for stakeholders to better track the changes to commitment proposals that result from consultations and discussions with implementing agencies. The reasons for the changes should be communicated and substantiated.
The relevant lead agencies all had representatives participate in the consultations. However, the Office of the Government did not ensure that senior-level representatives of these agencies knew about their roles in the commitments from the very beginning. For example, the Public Procurement Office (PPO) became aware of the action plan only when they were indicated as a responsible institution for Commitment 2, and the Ministry of To address barriers that prevent citizens from having their justice needs met, OGP participating governments are working to expand transparency, accountability, and inclusion into all systems of justi... informed the State Enterprise Center of Registers about its responsibilities for Commitment 1 on beneficial ownership after the discussions on the scope had already taken place. For the next action plan, the IRM reiterates its recommendation from the 2018-2020 Design Report to proactively engage public sector agencies as soon as a pertinent commitment text is under discussion and ensure they are fully aware of their role in implementing commitments. This could include higher-level participation by senior-level representatives of the public in the Regular dialogue between government and civil society is a core element of OGP participation. It builds trust, promotes joint problem-solving, and empowers civil society to influence the design, imple....
The success of the action plan will partially depend on the extent to which citizens and stakeholders know of and use new information on beneficial ownership and public procurement. It may be important to carry out awareness raising and trainings for stakeholders on how to use newly available data for their work. The IRM recommends utilizing the available resources of Open Ownership when creating the beneficial ownership register and removing restrictions to accessing the register like paywalls. Lithuania could also make beneficial ownership data available in open format and verify the accuracy of the data. For Commitment 2, the IRM recommends developing feedback and complaints mechanisms for citizens to report irregularities in public procurement.
Promising Commitments in Lithuania 2021-2023 Action Plan
The following review looks at the two commitments that the IRM identified as having the potential to realize the most promising results. This review will inform the IRM’s research approach to assess implementation in the Results Report. The IRM Results Report will build on the early identification of potential results from this review to contrast with the outcomes at the end of the implementation period of the action plan. This review also provides an analysis of challenges, opportunities and recommendations to contribute to the learning and implementation process of this action plan.
The IRM has analyzed Commitment 1 on beneficial ownership transparency and Commitment 2 on open procurement data. These commitments were proposed by non-government stakeholders during the co-creation process and received the most votes from the participants of public consultations when determining the priorities for the action plan. They also address important gaps in Lithuania’s open government landscape. Commitment 1 would, for the first time, centralize beneficial ownership information in Lithuania in a register. This is an important goal because Lithuania was one of only three EU Member States without a beneficial ownership register at the time of adopting the fifth action plan. Commitment 2 would result in the publication of government procurement data using the Open Contracting Data Standard. It will also see the publication of significantly more data than before, as it will cover the entire procurement cycle (from planning, tendering and awarding the contract, to implementation), and all government sectors.
For Commitment 3, the Office of the Government aims to develop a standardized template to present to the public the potential benefits and consequences of draft legislation that could have a “greater impact” on society. According to the Office of the Government, government communication of this information is inconsistent, so there is a need to systematically inform citizens of the most important legal acts. However, the Office of the Government does not currently know how it will promote the information to the public. The adviser at Strategic Competencies Group (an internal body within the Office of the Government which will assist in developing the template) mentioned social media as a possible tool for promotion, but this is not yet confirmed. Even if the Office of the Government informs the public of important legal acts in a user-friendly manner, if it does not disclose its calculations, the full impact assessments or the sources it used, and the stakeholders and expert groups consulted, this commitment is unlikely to have higher than modest potential for results. For many decisions, the publication of such information should also take place much earlier than the drafting of a law so that stakeholder consultations and expert analysis are introduced at the problem identification and scenario-planning stage.
To maximize the utility of the standardized template, the IRM recommends that the Office of the Government conduct a self-evaluation to understand if changes in communication, whatever the changes eventually entail, meet their goals in practice. The IRM also recommends that the Office of the Government publish the complete impact assessments along with the simplified information from this commitment.
Table 1. Promising commitments
|Commitment 1. Ensuring public access to beneficial ownership information. This commitment would provide, for the first time, civil society and journalists with information on the beneficial ownership of companies registered in Lithuania. This information could be used to identify suspicious trends in ownership and reduce the risks of money laundering.
|Commitment 2. Opening up public procurement data. This commitment would provide, for the first time, standardized By opening up data and making it sharable and reusable, governments can enable informed debate, better decision making, and the development of innovative new services. Technical specifications: Polici... covering all government sectors and the full cycle of procurement. Civil society, journalists, and citizens will be better equipped to monitor the integrity, fairness, and efficiency of government spending.
 Government of the Republic of Lithuania, 2021-2023 Action Plan for Lithuania’s Participation in the International Initiative ‘Open Government Partnership’, p 6, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Lithuania_Action-Plan_2021-2023_EN.pdf
 Republic of Lithuania, p 10, https://epilietis.lrv.lt/uploads/epilietis/documents/files/Konferencijos%20ataskaita%2005_21.pdf
 The two discarded proposals involved 1) informing NGOs operating in the areas that will be affected by the envisaged legal Government reformers are developing regulations that enshrine values of transparency, participation, and accountability in government practices. Technical specifications: Act of creating or reforming ... immediately after the public announcement of the draft legal acts in the Legal Acts Information System, and 2) creating an information platform for NGO competitions. According to the action plan, these activities will be implemented outside the scope of the OGP action plan.
 Open Government Partnership, IRM Lithuania Design Report 2018-2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Lithuania_Design_Report_2018-2020_EN.pdf
 Open Ownership, Guide to implementing beneficial ownership transparency, https://www.openownership.org/uploads/OO_Implementation_Guide.pdf
 Republic of Lithuania, p 10 (in Lithuanian), https://epilietis.lrv.lt/uploads/epilietis/documents/files/Konferencijos%20ataskaita%2005_21.pdf. The top five topics during the voting were: 1) beneficial ownership registry, 2) open public procurement, 3) a system informing NGOs about new legal acts being adopted in the Parliament, 4) a platform to publish all calls for funding for NGOs, and 5) impact assessments for government decisions.
 Daiva Žaromskytė-Rastenė, Head of Strategic Competencies Group, interview with IRM researcher, 22 October 2021.
 Asta Petkevičienė, Adviser, Strategic Competencies Group, interview with IRM researcher, 22 October 2021.