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Armenia

Portal for Community Decisions. (AM0031)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia

Support Institution(s): Marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices) of the Republic of Armenia; Information System Development and Training Center NGO (upon consent), Armavir Development Center NGO

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Participation, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Armenia End-Term Report 2016-2018, Armenia Progress Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Issue subject to regulation: Currently, the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities in the Republic of Armenia are electronically posted in PDF format on various official websites, particularly on the websites of relevant marzpetarans of the Republic of Armenia. The name of the link of a legal act mainly indicates the number and date of adoption of the legal act, which makes it impossible to use the search engine with other parameters. There is no single unified platform for publishing the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities in the Republic of Armenia electronically, as is the case with other legal acts (www.arlis.am). This makes it difficult for users to find the legal acts they need.; Main objective: Ensuring accessibility of decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities, providing a search function (simple and advanced search), ensuring usability, increasing transparency of activities of communities.; Brief description of commitment: Creation of a unified legal information system for publication of decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities based on the "public data" principle.; OGP challenge addressed by the commitment: Improvement of public services Enhancement of public integrity; Relevance to OGP values: Publication of the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities based on the “public data” principle conveys new quality to the introduction and persistent development of the value of public accountability in terms of access to information.; Ambition: Ensuring accessibility of decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities, increasing the transparency of activities of communities, increasing accountability and confidence.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

5. Portal for community decisions

Commitment Text:

Title: Portal for community decisions: Creation of a unified legal information system for decisions of council of elders and heads of communities

Creation of a unified legal information system for decisions of council of elders and heads of communities, based on the 'open data' principle. Ensuring accessibility of the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities, providing a search function (simple and advanced search), ensuring usability, increasing transparency of the activities of communities.

Publication of the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities based on the 'open data' principle conveys new quality to the introduction and persistent development of the value of public accountability in terms of access to information.

The activities under this commitment are as follows:

1. Discussion with representatives of civil society and private organizations on possible technical solutions for the creation of a single unified electronic platform for publishing the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (Sep 16 - Nov 16).

2. Creation of a single unified electronic platform with search function for publishing the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (Dec 16 - Jun 18).

3. Organizing and conduct of training courses for community servants (Jul 17 - Dec 17).

4. Creation of a repository for previously adopted decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (starting January 18).

Responsible institution: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia

Supporting institution(s): Marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices) of the Republic of Armenia

Start date: September 2016 End date: June 2018

Context and Objectives

By the time of undertaking the commitment, the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities were electronically posted in PDF format on various official websites, particularly in communities (if available) and relevant marzpetarans (regional governments). However, Armenia did not have a single unified platform for this purpose. Thus, it was difficult for users to easily find the community legal acts they needed. National legal acts, however, are posted on the online platform—Armenian Legal Information System (ARLIS)—providing possibilities to search by criteria as well as to download specific legal acts.[Note129: Armenian Legal Information System, http://www.arlis.am ]

This commitment intends to create a web platform which will serve as a unified information system for the publication of community decisions. Thus, the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information.

The commitment specifies that decisions of community heads and councils will be published according to the open data principle in a unified legal information system. However, the commitment does not specify the exact format and structure in which the data will become available.

If fully implemented, the commitment will ensure better access to decisions of various communities and facilitate decision searches by specific criteria. Currently, in order to find a decision on a specific topic, users have to visit the websites of all 10 marzpetarans and search among a number of scanned PDF documents for each community separately. The expected potential change in the government practice is minor, as the decisions are already available in various platforms, however, the commitment implementation would facilitate access to information on a unified platform.

Completion

The commitment is limited in completion. In July 2016, a new LSGB Acts section was introduced on http://www.arlis.am, where the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities were published in the format of a quarterly bulletin in PDF format.[Note130: Susanna Grigoryan (Pashtonakan teghekagrer CJSC), interview by IRM researcher, 17 November 2017] According to the responsible Ministry, the technical capacities of the ARLIS website were considered, and it was found purposeful to publish the information of community acts on the same platform as national level legal acts.[Note131: Ashot Giloyan (Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development), interview by IRM researcher, 16 November 2017] The CSO representatives have different views on whether the portal should be on a separate website. Some CSOs state that a new portal should be created as specified in the commitment text, while others mention that it can serve its aims on the ARLIS website, as it is better known and cost-efficient.[Note132: Focus Group discussion in Yerevan, 26 October 2017] However, virtually all CSOs agree that the format of the published decisions does not allow for user-friendly search and information retrieval, taking into account the lack of machine-readable options in PDF file and its downloading capacity.

The platform provides a table of contents where the name of each legal act is provided, including the community, the number and the date of adoption, and often the subject of the decision. This makes it possible to use the search engine of the browser to find a specific decision in the content table and further find the relevant legal act in the PDF bulletin. However, if the year of the decision is not known, one should conduct a search for each year. Further, the IRM researcher noticed that not all the decisions published on the websites of governors’ offices are posted in the bulletin. Particularly, the 'community council decision' section of the websites of Aragatsotn and Armavir marzpetarans have been reviewed for decisions of communities adopted in 2016.[Note133: Aragatsotn Regional Administration website, Community Council Decisions, http://aragatsotn.mtad.am/community-council-decisions, Armavir Regional Administration website, Community Council Decisions, http://armavir.mtad.am/community-council-decisions ] Agarak community from Aragatsotn marz had 40 decisions published, and Alashkert community from Armavir marz had 45 decisions published on their regional governments’ websites. However, out of these 85, only one decision from the Alashkert community from 2016 was included in the bulletin at http://www.arlis.am.

In 2011, the government approved a concept on community consolidation[Note134: Extract from RA government protocol decision No 44, 'On approval of the concept on community consolidation and formation of intercommunity units' 10.11.2011, http://www.arlis.am/DocumentView.aspx?DocID=73958], and from 2015 most of the communities in Armenia (915 communities as of 2011) have been merged into larger administrative units. According to the ministry, as soon as reforms on consolidation of municipalities are completed (expected in 2018), it would be feasible to publish the decisions of consolidated municipalities on the searchable section of ARLIS.[Note135: Ashot Giloyan (Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development), interview by IRM researcher, 16 November 2017]

Early Results (if any)

It is currently difficult to make conclusions on the usability of the platform. The stakeholders interviewed, particularly representatives of CSOs and media, noted that the collection of all community decisions in one platform is useful and they might use the resource created within the commitment. They also note that the availability of online publication of decisions can have minor effects on the quality of document development by community governments, but not on the content of decisions.[Note136: Focus Group discussion in Gyumri, 23 November 2017] There are no usage statistics available for the section of LSGB decisions, but overall statistics for http://www.arlis.am show around 80,000-90,000 unique users and millions of page uploads each month[Note137: Susanna Grigoryan (Pashtonakan teghekagrer CJSC), interview by IRM researcher, 17 November 2017], which reflects the popularity of the portal. However, because of limited data search and processing options and an incomplete list of community decisions, the portal might not serve as effectively as it could.

Next Steps

It is recommended to improve the commitment implementation in the remaining period of the action plan. In particular, the following recommendations are suggested by the IRM researcher based on discussions with stakeholders:

· Ensure the portal covers all decisions of all Armenian communities;

· Publish the decisions in machine readable format, providing structured data;

· Consider further revision of the portal to make it compliant with the commitment text, in particular providing simple and advanced search possibility;

· Make the bulletin more user-friendly for reading from the website (e.g. providing possibility of full screen view).

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Portal for community decisions

Commitment Text:

Title: Portal for community decisions: Creation of a unified legal information system for decisions of council of elders and heads of communities

Creation of a unified legal information system for decisions of council of elders and heads of communities, based on the “open data” principle. Ensuring accessibility of the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities, providing a search function (simple and advanced search), ensuring usability, increasing transparency of the activities of communities.

Publication of the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities based on the “open data” principle conveys new quality to the introduction and persistent development of the value of public accountability in terms of access to information.

The activities under this commitment are as follows:

1.Discussion with representatives of civil society and private organizations on possible technical solutions for the creation of a single unified electronic platform for publishing the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (Sep 16 - Nov 16).

2.Creation of a single unified electronic platform with search function for publishing the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (Dec 16 - Jun 18).

3.Organizing and conduct of training courses for community servants (Jul 17 - Dec 17).

4.Creation of a repository for previously adopted decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities (starting January 18).

Responsible institution: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia

Supporting institutions: Marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices) of the Republic of Armenia

Start date: September 2016 End date: June 2018

Commitment Aim

Prior to the drafting of this commitment, the decisions of local self-government bodies (LSGB), represented by councils of elders and heads of communities, were electronically posted in PDF format on various official websites, particularly in communities (if available) and relevant marzpetarans (regional governments). However, Armenia did not have a single, unified platform for users to easily find community legal acts. National legal acts, however, are posted on the online platform—Armenian Legal Information System (ARLIS)—providing possibilities to search by specific criteria as well as to download specific legal acts. [Note39: Armenian Legal Information System, http://www.arlis.am ] This commitment intended to create a web platform to serve as a unified information system for the publication of community decisions, including decisions of the heads of communities and community councils of elders.

Status

Midterm: Limited.

In July 2016, a new “LSGB Acts” section was introduced on http://www.arlis.am, where the decisions of councils of elders and heads of communities were published in the form of a quarterly bulletin in PDF format. [Note40: Susanna Grigoryan (Pashtonakan teghekagrer CJSC), interview by IRM researcher, 17 November 2017] According to the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development, the technical capacities of the ARLIS website were considered, and it was found expedient to publish the information of community acts on the same platform as national-level legal acts. [Note41: Ashot Giloyan (Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development), interview by IRM researcher, 16 November 2017] The administration of ARLIS website is done by “Pashtonakan teghekagrer,” a closed stock joint company (CJSC) owned by the government and responsible for publishing law bulletins. Thus, there was no need for trainings of community servants, as the latter are not responsible for posting the decisions in the platform.

However, the format of the published decisions does not allow user-friendly search or information retrieval, considering the lack of machine-readable options in PDF file and its downloading capacity. The platform provides a table of contents where the name of each legal act is provided, including the community, the decision number and the date of adoption, and often the subject of the decision. This makes it possible to use the search engine of the browser to find a specific decision in the content table and find the relevant legal act in the PDF bulletin by following the page number indicated in the content table. However, if the year of the decision is not known, users must conduct a search for each year. Furthermore, most of the decisions published on the websites of governors’ offices were not included in the bulletins. For more information, see the Armenia IRM Progress Report 2016–2017. [Note42: IRM Armenia Progress Report 2016-2018 (Year 1), 05 Portal for Community Decisions, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/commitment/05-portal-community-decisi... ]

End of term: Limited

The Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development did not undertake any additional actions in the framework of the commitment during the second year of the action plan. The review of the quarterly bulletin published in 2018 [Note43: Bulletin of Community Normative Acts, No 1(60), 30 March 2018, http://www.arlis.am/VL/Downloads/2018/2018-1-1.pdf ] shows that many community decisions available on the websites of governors’ offices are still not included, and the machine-readable option is not provided. According to the Staff of the Government, the technical capacity of the http://www.arlis.am portal is expected to be improved to provide better search possibilities for the platform. [Note44: Lilia Afrikyan (Staff of the Government), interview by IRM researcher, 19 September 2018.]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

The IRM researcher finds that the available portal has not contributed to the improvement of the scope or quality of information disclosed due to several reasons: the limited search and processing options provided in “LSGB decisions” section of the ARLIS platform, the difficulty to download and use the bulletins of community decisions, an incomplete list of community decisions included in the bulletin, and the discussions with civil society carried out in the during the assessments for Armenia’s 2016-2017 IRM Progress Report.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing this report (September 2018), Armenia’s fourth action plan is not available yet. During consultations for the fourth action plan, this commitment has not been suggested to carry forward. The IRM researcher recommends the following steps to improve the implementation of the commitment, which have been highlighted in Armenia’s 2016-2017 IRM Progress Report:

·Ensure that the portal (bulletin) covers all decisions of all Armenian communities;

·Publish the decisions in machine readable format, providing structured data;

·Consider further revision of the portal to make it compliant with the commitment text, in particular providing simple and advanced search possibility;

·Make the bulletin more user-friendly for reading from the website (e.g. providing possibility of full screen view).

For Commitment detail, see Armenia End-Term Report 2016-2018.


Commitments

  1. Open Data in Official Declarations

    AM0035, 2018, Asset Disclosure

  2. Government Grant Transparency

    AM0036, 2018, Fiscal Transparency

  3. Beneficial Ownership Register

    AM0037, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  4. Modernization of Community Website

    AM0038, 2018, E-Government

  5. State Water Cadastre

    AM0039, 2018, E-Government

  6. Land Cadastre

    AM0040, 2018, E-Government

  7. Integrated Social Services

    AM0041, 2018, E-Government

  8. Unified Information System for Management of Education

    AM0042, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Exploring Medical Assistance Program

    AM0043, 2018, E-Government

  10. Platform for Submitting Petitions

    AM0044, 2018, E-Government

  11. Public Service Dashboard

    AM0045, 2018, E-Government

  12. State Travel Transparency

    AM0027, 2016, E-Government

  13. Accountability for Grants of the Government

    AM0028, 2016, E-Government

  14. Transparency of the State Budget

    AM0029, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  15. "Open Data" in Official Declaration:

    AM0030, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  16. Portal for Community Decisions.

    AM0031, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Accountability Licensing

    AM0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Accessibility of Integrated Social Services

    AM0033, 2016, E-Government

  19. "One-Stop-Shop" Pilot Project Within Military Registration Offices

    AM0034, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Digitization and publication of data in the “Republican Geological Fund” SNCO

    AM0016, 2014, Extractive Industries

  21. Ensuring Transparency in Mining

    AM0017, 2014, Extractive Industries

  22. Ensuring Public Awareness About Health Care Financing

    AM0018, 2014, E-Government

  23. Ensuring Transparency of Asset and Income Declarations of the RA High-Ranking Officials

    AM0019, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  24. Online Broadcasting of the State Procurement Appeals Board Sessions

    AM0020, 2014, E-Government

  25. Community Microsurvey Introduction in 10 Communities

    AM0021, 2014, E-Government

  26. Ensuring Open, Transparent, Participatory and Accountable Process of State Policies and Legislative Reforms

    AM0022, 2014, E-Government

  27. Public Awareness on the Lawmaking Activity of State Governance Bodies

    AM0023, 2014, E-Government

  28. Ensuring Transparency of the Election of Governing Boards of the RA General Secondary Education Institutions and of the Annual Budget Planning and Expenses of Ra General Secondary Education Institutions

    AM0024, 2014, Education

  29. Knowledge and Capacity Building of Public Servants in the Freedom of Information and Anticorruption Field

    AM0025, 2014, Capacity Building

  30. Ensuring Transparency of Local Self Government Bodies of Large Communities

    AM0026, 2014, E-Government

  31. Reviewing the Regulatory Normative Legal Acts (Regulatory Guillotine Project)

    AM0001, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Improving Internal Audit System for the Public Sector

    AM0002, 2012, Audits and Controls

  33. Improving Procurement Procedures

    AM0003, 2012, Capacity Building

  34. Improving Budget Planning and Reporting Systems Through Full Utilization of Program Budgeting

    AM0004, 2012, Audits and Controls

  35. Promoting Transparency and Objectiveness in Tax Administration

    AM0005, 2012, Conflicts of Interest

  36. Fight Against Corruption

    AM0006, 2012, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  37. Introduction of a Unified Payment System (Portal)

    AM0007, 2012, E-Government

  38. State Car Inspection Improvements

    AM0008, 2012, Infrastructure & Transport

  39. Implementation of an Electronic System for Consular Services

    AM0009, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration

  40. Implementation of Mail-Armenia System

    AM0010, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration

  41. Introduction of e-Statistics System

    AM0011, 2012, E-Government

  42. Introduction of e-Documentation Sharing System in Urban Communities

    AM0012, 2012, E-Government

  43. Ensuring Transparency of Asset Declarations

    AM0013, 2012, Asset Disclosure

  44. Standardization of Offical Websites Content

    AM0014, 2012, E-Government

  45. Improvement of Knowledge and Skills of Public Servants on Access to Information

    AM0015, 2012, Capacity Building