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Armenia

Modernization of Community Website (AM0038)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

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

Support Institution(s): Urban Development Committee, Marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices) of the Republic of Armenia Yerevan Municipality and other local self-government bodies (upon consent) Armavir Development Center NGO, “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” Project being implemented by the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, Information Systems Development and Training Center NGO (upon consent)

Policy Areas

E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Legislation & Regulation, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Armenia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

4. Modernization of community websites: Strengthening publicity, transparency and participation at the local level

Commitment Start and End Date Commitment Start: November 2018
Commitment End: August 2020
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia
Person responsible from lead implementing agency Ashot Giloyan
Title, Department Head of Department of Local Self-Governance Policies
E-mail a.giloyan@mta.gov.amPhone +374 10 511-342
Other actors involved Other state actors involved Urban Development Committee, Marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices) of the Republic of Armenia
Yerevan Municipality and other local self-government bodies (upon consent)
Civil society, private sector Armavir Development Center NGO, “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” Project being implemented by the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, Information Systems Development and Training Center NGO (upon consent)
Issues subject to regulation Currently, there is a need to strengthen publicity, transparency and participation in the sphere of local self-governance. In particular, most of the communities of the republic are using the Community Management Information System (CMIS) created upon the initiative of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development of the Republic of Armenia (MTAD RA). Ensuring public accessibility of the CMIS on the Internet, community administrations also make the CMIS serve as an official website, providing the population of the community with access to information about their activities. Point 5 of Article 11 of the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On local self-governance” stipulates the obligation of communities to have an official website and the list of the minimum documents to be posted on the website with download functionality. The drawback of the official websites of communities is that, in spite of the fact that the information is provided to users, it is incomplete, and it does not ensure opportunity for residents to participate.
Main objective The objective of the commitment is to raise the level of transparency and publicity of the activities of LSGs in communities of the Republic with populations of 3,000 or more, improve the quality and raise the level of accessibility and access of services provided to the population, as well as ensure participation.
Brief description of commitment Within the scope of performance of the commitment, it is envisaged to enlarge the composition of information prescribed by the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On local self-governance” and to be posted on the websites of communities, including the following:
• the budgets of institutions under the subordination of a community administration,
• general information (type of activity, address, contacts, etc.) regarding institutions (educational, cultural, etc.) existing in the community and/or the website of those institutions (if available),
• information cards containing descriptions of the procedures for services provided by the community administration or the institutions operating under its subordination, which will present, in detail, information regarding the service concerned and information required for the beneficiary of the service, required documents, terms of provision, legal grounds, levies fees, etc.
• information on issuance of permits for advertisements, trade, construction and other types of permits,
• information about theme parks, see-worthy sites, as well as historical and cultural sites located in the community (address, pictures, brief description),
• information related to construction underway in the community through public funding,
• application of the e-draft model in large communities (with 20000 or more residents), that is, posting on the website of the community administration the drafts of regulatory legal acts to be adopted by the head of community and council of elders of the community, for the purpose of informing and discussing.
OGP challenge addressed by the commitment Raising the level of public confidence, more efficient management of public resources
Relevant to OGP values Transparency, publicity, participation, technology and innovation
Ambition Availability of official community websites that will be more accessible and will contain more information for residents, enlargement of local participation
Promotes efforts for implementation of SDG Goals or Targets 11.3 by 2030 enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacities for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries

Verifiable and measurable criteria for performance of commitment
Start Date:
End Date:
Ongoing Actions
1. Preparing drafts of the laws on making amendments to the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On local self-governance” and “On local self-governance in Yerevan”. November 2018 March 2019
2. Organising public discussions to make legislative amendments. April 2019 June 2019
3. Presentation of “On local self-governance” and “On local self-governance in Yerevan” legislative drafts package to the National Assembly April 2019 November 2019
4. Bringing official websites of communities into compliance with the existing legislative amendments. March 2019 March 2020
5. Information campaign (aware rising) targeted at local self-government bodies and CSOs. Introducing new tools and capabilities of sites to the community users. May 2019 August 2020

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Modernization of Community Websites

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [41]

Brief description: Within the scope of performance of the commitment, it is envisaged to enlarge the composition of information prescribed by the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On local self-governance” and to be posted on the websites of communities, including the following:

  • the budgets of institutions under the subordination of a community administration,
  • general information (type of activity, address, contacts, etc.) regarding institutions (educational, cultural, etc.) existing in the community and/or the website of those institutions (if available),
  • information cards containing descriptions of the procedures for services provided by the community administration or the institutions operating under its subordination, which will present, in detail, information regarding the service concerned and information required for the beneficiary of the service, required documents, terms of provision, legal grounds, levies fees, etc.
  • information on issuance of permits for advertisements, trade, construction and other types of permits,
  • information about theme parks, see-worthy sites, as well as historical and cultural sites located in the community (address, pictures, brief description),
  • information related to construction underway in the community through public funding,
  • application of the e-draft model in large communities (with 20000 or more residents), that is, posting on the website of the community administration the drafts of regulatory legal acts to be adopted by the head of community and council of elders of the community, for the purpose of informing and discussing. [42]

Milestones

4.1 Preparing drafts of the laws on making amendments to the Law of the Republic of Armenia “On local self-governance” and “On local self-governance in Yerevan”.

4.2 Organising public discussions to make legislative amendments.

4.3 Presentation of “On local self-governance” and “On local self-governance in Yerevan” legislative drafts package to the National Assembly.

4.4 Bringing official websites of communities into compliance with the existing legislative amendments.

4.5 Information campaign (awareness raising) targeted at local self-government bodies and CSOs. Introducing new tools and capabilities of sites to the community users.

Start Date: November 2018

End Date: August 2020

Context and Objectives

The law requires Armenian communities with a population over 3,000 to have an official website with a list of specific, downloadable documents. [43] This list includes normative legal acts adopted by the head of the community and the council of elders. Other documents include community development program and program performance reports, and community budget and budget performance reports. [44]

Most communities in Armenia have the Community Management Information System created by the Information Systems Development and Training Center by the initiative of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. Based on this system, over 250 communities run websites with information on community council sessions and decisions, budget and community structures, services and necessary templates. The system also provides the ability to file online requests and find information on land and building ownership. Community members can also calculate taxes and fees based on personal information requests. Visitors can give feedback on any information presented on the website. [45] Noting it is an exemplary transparency and participation tool, OGP designated the system (“Smart Municipality”) a “regional champion” in 2015. [46]

According to civil society organizations, improvements can still be made regarding transparency of community property management, budgets of community-owned entities, and the issuance of permits. This information could be published on community websites. The author of this commitment also proposed facilitating discussion of community legal drafts similarly to the discussion of national normative acts on the e-draft.am platform.

This commitment aims to expand the scope of publicly accessible information held by municipalities to include information not only on the municipalities but also other public institutions, such as kindergartens, musical schools, and cultural centers. The commitment also envisions posting information about provided services and permits. As noted by a civil society stakeholder, if construction permits are publicly available on community websites, it will be easier for the public to identify cases of illegal construction in their communities. [47] Thus, posting the information on provided permits could contribute to better public oversight of the legality and purposes of construction and of nonlicensed construction, advertising, and trade.

Stakeholders also highly value the publication of information on property management. It could allow better public oversight of property transactions in cases where bids and annual property management plans are posted in advance. [48]

In general, stakeholders find that if implemented, the commitment could facilitate public service provision and improve transparency. The publication of drafts to e-draft.am, with mandated opportunities to vote, discuss, and provide feedback, could enhance public participation in larger urban communities.

The impact of this commitment largely depends on the use of the new opportunities provided. Some stakeholders express skepticism about the use of community websites by community members as a significant source of information. They note that in smaller communities, people hardly use community websites, preferring face-to-face communication and lively discussions. Also, though publication of information on websites is stipulated for communities with population above 3,000, not all communities provide complete and regularly updated information. Thus, first of all it is necessary that community administrations enforce legal provisions of transparency by and conduct awareness-raising activities among the population to increase the use of online sources of information. The commitment milestones include such awareness raising.

Regarding the posting of drafts on the e-draft.am platform, stakeholders suggest posting the decision drafts on the community websites (as stipulated by law) and providing technical tools for discussion directly on community websites. [49] Stakeholders also put higher importance on more effective participation mechanisms that could be used in communities, such as face-to-face discussions and citizen councils. [50]

If fully implemented, the commitment could serve as a moderate step toward greater transparency of the local self-governance bodies. It could facilitate access to information that was previously not publicly available. However, it would constitute a minor step forward in terms of participation for the community members.

Next steps

This commitment calls for opening up new categories of information for better transparency and public oversight of areas that contain potential corruption risks. It also calls for enhanced public participation in decision making in communities with populations over 20,000. To make use of the opportunities provided by current legislation and this commitment, the IRM researcher recommends taking the following actions:

  • Community authorities need to ensure proper publication as provided by law and timely update of the information on websites. They should also provide adequate feedback to the issues raised and suggestions by community members and other interested stakeholders.
  • Training and awareness-raising activities for community inhabitants can be provided both by local government and civil society organizations (CSOs) working in this area. This will maximize use of the websites and facilitate public oversight of various aspects of local self-government.
  • To increase use of the e-draft platform for the discussion of community legal drafts, the local authorities should publish announcements about and links to the drafts on community websites.
  • According to the stakeholders, there is a need to improve the technical capacities and user-friendly design of the available websites. [51]
  • Based on stakeholder suggestions, the IRM researcher also recommends further enlarging the scope of website information. The community authorities should publish the names and positions of municipality staff, along with their contact information, which will facilitate direct communication with citizens and CSOs. [52]

In future action plans, the IRM researcher recommends improving public participation opportunities beyond those available through electronic tools—for example, providing such opportunities through townhall meetings, citizen forums, and SMS polls. [53]

[41] Government of the Republic of Armenia, OGP Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Armenia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.doc.
[42] In the Armenian version: “Within the framework of the commitment, it is planned to undertake steps in two directions: legislative amendments and improvement of operational capacity of community websites.
“With the legislative amendments to be made, communities with 3000 or more population will also have the responsibility to publish the following:
  • “general information on the institutions (educational, cultural, etc.) available in the community (including the budget, type of activity, address, contact information, etc.) and / or the address of their official website (if any);
  • “services rendered by the municipality and its subordinate structures;
  • “information about advertising, trade, construction and other permits issued by the municipality;
  • “information about any construction works in the community implemented by public financial means;
“For the expansion of operational opportunities of community websites, it is envisaged to:
  • “improve community property management component, which will make the information on community property and its management transparent and accessible to the population while at the same time ensuring access to information for relevant investors;
  • “develop a component of information cards containing descriptions of the services provided, which along provision of detailed information on the provided services will allow residents to provide opinions and recommendations on the services to ensure pro-citizen service provision by local self-governments;
  • “provide for the discussion of normative legal acts drafts of local self-government of communities with 20,000 or more residents on e-draft.am Unified Website of Legal Acts drafts.” Government of the Republic of Armenia, OGP Armenia Action Plan 2018-2020, Armenian version, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Armenia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_ARM.doc.
[43] This is according to Article 11.5 of the RA Law On Local Self-governance.
[44] RA Law On Local Self-governance, 07 May 2002, https://www.arlis.am/DocumentView.aspx?DocID=125341.
[45] Grisha Khachatryan (Information Systems Development and Training Center), phone interview by IRM researcher, 05 March 2019.
[46] “Armenia Wins Top Award at OGP International Competition,” OGP Armenia, 01 November 2015, http://ogp.am/en/news/item/2015/11/01/OGP_Award2015/.
[47] Naira Arakelyan (Armavir Development Center), interview by IRM researcher, 24 January 2019.
[48] Sara Petrosyan (Hetq Investigative Journalists NGO), phone interview by IRM researcher, 18 March 2019.
[49] Narine Mailyan (Araza NGO), interview by IRM researcher, 22 February 2019; and Levon Barseghyan (Asparez Journalists’ Club), phone interview by IRM researcher, 28 February 2019.
[50] Marina Mkhitaryan (UNDP Kolba Lab), interview by IRM researcher, 18 February 2019.
[51] Liana Doydoyan (Freedom of Information Center of Armenia), interview by IRM researcher, 18 February 2019.
[52] Sara Petrosyan (Hetq Investigative Journalists NGO), phone interview by IRM researcher, 18 March 2019.
[53] Community microsurveys have been included in the second action plan (Commitment 6). For more detail, see IRM Armenia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/armenia-end-of-term-report-2014-2016

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