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Albania

Commitment to Publish Online Central and Local Government Legislation in Open Systems and for Free (AL0050)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Albania Third Action Plan 2016 – 2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Minister of Local Affairs

Support Institution(s): INFOCIP

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Public Service Delivery, Records Management, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Albania End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Albania Progress Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Infocip considers that access to the central and local legislation is a public service that does not need improvement, despite more explicit legal requirements. The commitment to publish online in open systems free national and local legislation includes: - Regarding the central legislation, the government is committed to the publication of legislation in the official websites of the line Ministries, free of charge, in the section: Legislation. - Regarding local government legislation, Infocip offers vendime.al as online national platform, unique in its kind, which may be adopted as a reporting mechanism. Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment INFOCIP considers that access to the central and local government legislation is a public service, which is provided, for free in a bad quality and for many years, despite explicit legal requirements. INFOCIP proposed GoA to commit in publishing online in open systems and for free this kind of legislation. For central government legislation, a coherent system should be adopted (the oldest is lacking efficiencies and consistency). For local government, INFOCIP offers vendime.al as a national platform, unique in its kind, which is adopted, it is reported directly as a significant contribution of civil society within the new commitment, but also the reporting mechanism. Main Objective This commitment’s main objective is to publish online in open systems and for free, central and local government legislation.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Publish government legislation online

Commitment Text:

Title: Publish online central and local government legislation in open systems and for free

Infocip considers that access to the central and local legislation is a public service that does not need improvement, despite more explicit legal requirements.

The commitment to publish online in open systems free national and local legislation includes:

- Regarding the central legislation, the government is committed to the publication of legislation in the official websites of the line Ministries, free of charge, in the section: Legislation.

- Regarding local government legislation, Infocip offers vendime.al as online national platform, unique in its kind, which may be adopted as a reporting mechanism.

Responsible institution: Minister of state for Local Issues (MSLI)

Supporting institution: InfoCip

Start date: 2016 End date: 2018

Editorial note: For full commitment text, please refer to https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Albania_NAP3_ENG.pdf.

Context and Objectives

INFOCIP, a civil society organization based in Tirana, considers access to central and local government legislation a public service. While access to legislation is provided and is legally required, local government legislation is not publicly available in all 61 municipalities in Albania. A 2016 MJAFT! Movement monitoring report suggests that nearly 58 percent of central and local government institutions failed to respond to freedom of information requests submitted by the organization. For local government legislation, challenges are even more pressing given the fact that many municipalities, especially small and medium-sized municipalities, do not have official websites.[Note86: 'Challenges of local government units in the fight against corruption', IDM assessment report 2016, http://idmalbania.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/LGU-Anticorruption-English.pdf ]

The current system of providing government legislation is also fragmented and inefficient. According to the legislation in force, national legislation and bylaws adopted by the Government should be published in the Official Gazette. These acts are also published electronically on the portal http://www.qbz.gov.al. On the other hand, Article 18 point 3 of the Law 'On the local self-government in Albania' stipulates that legal acts adopted by municipal councils are published on websites or in other spaces accessible to the public, as well as through other means. But because many local governments do not have official websites, the practice of publishing local legislation is fragmented.

While developing the 2016-2018 action plan, INFOCIP proposed that the Government of Albania commit to publishing central and local government legislation online in open data for free, or open systems as referred to by the action plan. This commitment consists of two steps. First, for the central government, the commitment specifies that bylaws and other legal acts adopted by institutions will be published online in the websites of each ministry, under a separate heading (legislation). Second, for the local government, the commitment offers the portal vendime.al as a possible reporting mechanism. Vendime.al is an initiative of INFOCIP supported by various donors (e.g. US embassy in Tirana, National Endowment for Democracy, the European Union-funded project CIVILISC).

If fully implemented, this commitment will have moderate potential impact. For local government legislation, the vendime.al portal, combined with the websites of municipalities, fully address the need for online public access to municipal councils’ decisions. However, for central government legislation the commitment does not capture all central government agencies. The commitment is also vague in determining what type of legislation—laws, bylaws, decisions, regulations, orders, etc.— should be made publicly available. Additionally, the commitment text only refers to publication of central government legislation on Ministry websites, and not in the Official Gazette. It is unclear where ministries are committed to publishing their legislation.

This commitment addresses the OGP value of access to information. The commitment activities focus on adopting legislation, which will enable an increased amount of information and improved quality of information. However, because this commitment does not provide a mechanism for public consultation on central or local government legislation, it is not relevant to civic participation or public accountability.

Completion

It is important to note that the Minister of State for Local Issues (MSLI), the leading institution, was not aware of its responsibilities regarding this commitment. INFOCIP, the listed supporting institution, acted as the lead implementing organization. In addition, MSLI was unaware that they had committed to publish central legislation on the official websites of the line ministries and the Official Gazette. This misunderstanding made it difficult to gauge completion, but the poor coordination among institutions does not have a direct consequence on specificity coding.

The MSLI has not offered information on the progress of this commitment, and completion has been coded as not started for the first commitment activity. The progress of this commitment’s implementation is uneven for central and local government legislation. Even before this commitment was undertaken, most government ministries’ websites had a section titled 'legislation,' containing information about the basic legal and sub-legal acts regulating the sectors of their authority. Yet, not all ministries’ websites contained this information. Other ministries included partial information (e.g. laws but not updated information about adopted bylaws such as ministers’ orders, decisions or regulations).[Note87: The website of the Ministry of foreign affairs did not have a separate section about 'legislation'; the Ministry of Education and sport included 'legislation' heading about sports, date accessed June 2017.]

With regards to the local government legislation, a 2017 monitoring report by INFOCIP suggests that 41 out of the 61 local government units in Albania (nearly 67 percent) have published the decisions of municipal councils, compared to 12 LGUs (20 percent) in 2016. 17 municipalities publish local government legislation on both their website and vendime.al. Another 15 publish local legislation only at vendime.al. Seven municipalities infrequently publish online local legislation, while two municipalities only publish online the title of the decisions of municipal councils.

INFOCIP has reported that vendime.al has expanded the number of municipalities which publish their decisions in this portal. Furthermore, INFOCIP has also reported that the portal had approximately 2,500 to 3,000 unique visitors per month in the first half of 2017, and an overall average of 200,000 clicks per month.[Note88: Interview, reports and access to files provided by INFOCIP during July – September 2017.]

Early Results

No information about the use of the 'legislation' section in line ministries’ websites has been offered to the IRM researcher. However, INFOCIP has provided useful and reliable data on the use of the vendime.al portal.

CSOs and local government experts are aware of and are using the vendime.al portal. However, no citizen participating in the focus groups conducted by the IRM researcher was aware of the commitment or the vendime.al portal.

Next Steps

While Albania is still on time to publish central government legislation by June 2018, realistically, there is not enough time for all 61 municipalities to publish local government legislation with all the legal acts in force.[Note89: The STAR 2 Project (Support to the Territorial and Administrative Reform) can be used in this regard. Between 2017 and March 2019 the STAR 2 project will support the online legislation (from 2015 onwards) for 31 municipalities which do not publish online legal acts in cooperation with the Commissioner on the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Data. Information obtained from STAR 2 officials (September 2017).] The IRM researcher recommends following up this commitment in the next action plan. In addition to this, the commitment also needs to be redesigned to include clearer definitions of actions and the institution(s) responsible for its implementation. Specifically, with the new government taking office in September 2017, the following steps need to be taken into account:

· Take measures to unify all ministries’ websites with a separate 'legislation' section. Additionally, the same should apply for other state agencies at the central government level.

· Have the responsible institution identify the type of legal acts to be published. At present, it remains unclear which government institutions is in charge of this commitments as the MSLI does not exist in the new government cabinet.

· Remind municipalities to coordinate with vendime.al and make use of the already rich resource of local government legislation. INFOCIP is taking action to coordinate with the government and donors (UNDP Albania) supporting the territorial and administrative reform’s implementation.

· Include mechanisms for public consultation when drafting bylaws.

· Take actions to make the commitment more relevant for interest groups (e.g. businesses, CSOs, media) through greater clarity on the type of bylaws to be published under the ministries’ websites; and

· Coordinate with donors supporting the publication of local legislation, an element of territorial and administrative reform (in force since 2015) and take into account the need for more targeted use of vendime.al.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

7. Publish government legislation online

Commitment Text:

Title: Publish online central and local government legislation in open systems and for free

Infocip considers that access to the central and local legislation is a public service that does not need improvement, despite more explicit legal requirements.

The commitment to publish online in open systems free national and local legislation includes:

  • Regarding the central legislation, the government is committed to the publication of legislation in the official websites of the line Ministries, free of charge, in the section: Legislation.
  • Regarding local government legislation, Infocip offers vendime.al as online national platform, unique in its kind, which may be adopted as a reporting mechanism.

Responsible institution: Minister of State for Local Issues (MSLI)

Supporting institution(s): InfoCip

Start date: 2016 End date: 2018

Editorial note: For full commitment text, please refer to https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Albania_NAP3_ENG.pdf.

Commitment Aim:

This commitment aimed to improve access to central and local government legislation. At the municipal level, while access to legislation was provided as legally required, local government legislation was often not publicly available in municipalities, in part because many local governments did not have official websites. In particular, municipalities in the main urban centers and developed areas of the country regularly published their acts on their website or through other means. However, medium-sized or small municipalities failed to do so. At the central level, the system of providing government legislation was also fragmented and inefficient, although national legislation and bylaws adopted by the government should be published in the Official Gazette and electronically on the portal http://www.qbz.gov.al.

On the suggestion of the CSO INFOCIP, the Government of Albania committed to publish central and local government legislation online, in open data format and for free. The commitment consisted of two steps. First, for the central government, bylaws and other legal acts adopted by institutions would be published on the websites of each ministry. Second, for local governments, the commitment offered the portal vendime.al as an online platform and as a possible reporting mechanism.

Status

Midterm: Limited

This commitment had limited progress at the midterm. The Minister of State for Local Issues (MSLI), the leading institution, was not aware of its responsibilities regarding this commitment. The Center for Public Information Issues (known as INFOCIP in Albanian) [41] listed as supporting institution, acted in fact as the lead implementing organization. In addition, MSLI was unaware that they had committed to publish central legislation on the official websites of the line ministries and the Official Gazette.

INFOCIP reported that vendime.al had expanded the number of municipalities which publish their decisions in this portal. The IRM midterm report 2016-2017 noted a modest number of users of vendime.al. [42]

End of term: Substantial

No progress was noted in 2018 regarding the first milestone of this commitment, the publication of central legislation on the official websites of the line ministries, free of charge. Government ministries’ websites have a section titled “legislation,” containing information about the basic legal and sub-legal acts regulating the sectors of their authority, however, not all of them are complete. Namely, there is a lack of updated information on adopted bylaws such as ministers’ orders, decisions, or regulations.

However, the second milestone, on publishing online all local governments’ acts in all municipalities across the country on vendime.al, was fully implemented. [43] INFOCIP reported that all 61 municipalities published online legislation adopted by the municipality. In 2016, the portal published acts from only 12 municipalities; in 2017 this number increased to 41 municipalities. During 2018, thanks to UNDP’s STAR project’s support, INFOCIP included all 61 municipalities. [44]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Although the government did not publish central legislation on the official websites, publishing online all local governments’ acts in all municipalities across the country on vendime.al represents a major achievement. Indeed, public access to municipal legislation had long been a problematic issue. Therefore, the portal offered an adequate response to such need and the preliminary results of the website’s usage are encouraging. CSOs, especially in smaller and underdeveloped municipalities, find the portal particularly useful for their work. [45]

Vendime.al hosts 20,662 municipal council decisions (MCDs), corresponding to 61 municipalities. Since the launch in 2013, there have been a total of 142,785 unique visitors. The number of unique visitors has increased from around 11,000 in 2013 to 81,000 in 2018. By November 2018, there were almost 10 million (9,884,833) hits in the unified platform to see/download MCDs and a total of 3,370,495 pages browsed by different users. These data have respectively increased from 60,000 hits and 241,000 pages in 2013 to nearly 4 million hits and 1.5 million pages in 2018. Also, INFOCIP representatives suggested that the number of beneficiaries of the information published was expected to continue increasing significantly. [46]

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report, Albania has not published a new action plan. The follow-up step to this commitment, as recommended by the IRM researcher, could be to unify all ministries’ websites with a separate “legislation” section. The same could apply for other state agencies at the central government level.

[41] INFOCIP, http://www.infocip.org/en/

[42] IRM Albania Progress Report 2016-2017, page 56.

[43] Gert Shella, Director of INFOCIP, interview by IRM researcher, 31 October 2018.

[44] Report on the implementation of the right to information by municipalities in Albania (September 2018), page 19, http://www.infocip.org/al/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Monitorimi-INFOCIP-2018-E-DREJTA-E-INFORMIMITNE-61BASHKI.pdf

[45] Testimonials (in Albanian) of civil society activists on the usefulness of the Vendime.al portal, https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2160148487377249&id=302120716513378&refid=52&__tn__=C-R

[46] Gert Shella, Director of INFOCIP, interview by IRM researcher, 31 October 2018.


Albania's Commitments

  1. Transparency of Government Reporting

    AL0061, 2018, E-Government

  2. e-Government

    AL0062, 2018, E-Government

  3. Improved Business Regulation

    AL0063, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Safe Communities

    AL0064, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  5. Improvement of Database/Portal with Coordinators’ Data of the Right to Information and Transparency Programs

    AL0044, 2016, E-Government

  6. Budget Transparency

    AL0045, 2016, E-Government

  7. Integrated Registry of Citizens’ Housing

    AL0046, 2016, Citizenship and Immigration

  8. Establishment of Electronic Registry for Public Notification and Consultation

    AL0047, 2016, E-Government

  9. Digital Archive

    AL0048, 2016, E-Government

  10. Creating a Database for Archiving and Publication of Research Funds and Programs in Albania

    AL0049, 2016, E-Government

  11. Commitment to Publish Online Central and Local Government Legislation in Open Systems and for Free

    AL0050, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Commitment to Open Standards for Contracting

    AL0051, 2016, E-Government

  13. Starred commitment Implementation of the Law "On Protection of Whistleblowers", Capacity Building, Amendments and Its Bylaws

    AL0052, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  14. Provision of Electronic Services

    AL0053, 2016, Capacity Building

  15. Establishment of Multifunctional Centralized System for Building Permits

    AL0054, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Establishment and Distribution of Digital Counters

    AL0055, 2016, E-Government

  17. Service Passport Standardization

    AL0056, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Citizen Card

    AL0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Electronic System of Registration of e-Prescription in the Republic of Albania

    AL0058, 2016, E-Government

  20. Electronic Monitoring System of Forests

    AL0059, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  21. Integrated Electronic System for Professional Licensing of Individuals and Legal Entities That Will Operate in the Field of Study Design and Supervision of Commissioning of Construction Works

    AL0060, 2016, E-Government

  22. Standardization of Corruption Complaints

    AL0031, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  23. Electronic Registry of Energy and Industry Permits

    AL0032, 2014, E-Government

  24. Implementation of Public Expenses Module in "Open Data" Format

    AL0033, 2014, E-Government

  25. Promoting OGP Values Among Local Authorities

    AL0034, 2014, OGP

  26. Database on Economic Assitance Beneficiaries

    AL0035, 2014, E-Government

  27. Electronic Portal on Water Resources Administration and Management

    AL0036, 2014, E-Government

  28. Single Window

    AL0037, 2014, E-Government

  29. Electronic Access to Protected Areas

    AL0038, 2014, E-Government

  30. National Geoportal

    AL0039, 2014, E-Government

  31. e-Albania

    AL0040, 2014, E-Government

  32. e-Document

    AL0041, 2014, E-Government

  33. Starred commitment Law on Whistleblowers Protection

    AL0042, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  34. Police Service Offices

    AL0043, 2014, E-Government

  35. Open Data Portal

    AL0001, 2012, Open Data

  36. e-Acts

    AL0002, 2012, E-Government

  37. e-Parliament

    AL0003, 2012, E-Government

  38. Extension of the Governmental Network, GOVNET

    AL0004, 2012, E-Government

  39. e-Government Interoperability Framework, e-GIF

    AL0005, 2012, E-Government

  40. Government Datacenter

    AL0006, 2012, E-Government

  41. Excise System

    AL0007, 2012, E-Government

  42. Starting of the e-Tax System

    AL0008, 2012, E-Government

  43. Starred commitment Online State Matura

    AL0009, 2012, E-Government

  44. The Regulation on Ethics in Research and Publishing

    AL0010, 2012, Education

  45. Digitalization of Higher Education Accreditation Process

    AL0011, 2012, E-Government

  46. U-Gov System

    AL0012, 2012, E-Government

  47. Online Inspections of Courts and Judicial Hearings

    AL0013, 2012, E-Government

  48. Digitalization of the File Transfer Process

    AL0014, 2012, Judiciary

  49. e-Employment Project

    AL0015, 2012, E-Government

  50. e-Concessions Procedures

    AL0016, 2012, E-Government

  51. Amendment of the Law “On the Right to Information for Official Documents”

    AL0017, 2012, Justice

  52. Drafting a New Law on "Notice and Consultation"

    AL0018, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  53. Tracking Project

    AL0019, 2012, E-Government

  54. Digitalization of the Notary Register

    AL0020, 2012, E-Government

  55. Online Citizens’ Claims in the Judiciary System

    AL0021, 2012, E-Government

  56. Work Inspection, Online Complaint

    AL0022, 2012, E-Government

  57. Financial Module of All Educational Institutions

    AL0023, 2012, Education

  58. Starred commitment Audio and Video Recording of Judicial Hearings

    AL0024, 2012, E-Government

  59. Starred commitment e-Albania Portal

    AL0025, 2012, E-Government

  60. e-Inspection Portal

    AL0026, 2012, E-Government

  61. Starred commitment Portal Www.Gjykata.Gov.Al

    AL0027, 2012, E-Government

  62. Disclosure of the List of Payments Made Daily by the Government Units

    AL0028, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  63. e-Procurement System for All Small Purchases of Public Procurement

    AL0029, 2012, E-Government

  64. Implementation of the EITI Recommendations

    AL0030, 2012, Extractive Industries