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Croatia

Improving the Consultation Process with the Interested Public in Legislative Procedures (HR0020)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status:

Institutions

Lead Institution: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs; Government of Croatia - public relations office

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Administration; Information Commissioner; Digital Information Documentation Office; State Public Administration School; State administration bodies (responsible for the drafting of laws, other regulations and acts)

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Democratizing Decision-Making, E-Government, Public Participation, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: Croatia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Croatia Mid-Term Report 2014-2015, Croatia IRM Progress Report 2014-2015

Early Results: Outstanding Outstanding

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Yes

Ambition (see definition): High

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Establishment of a single interactive Internet system for consultations with the public in procedures of adopting new laws, other regulations and acts Implementation indicators: establishment of a single Internet system for public consultations, draft acts, other regulations and documents for which consultation procedures are held are published in a timely manner on the Internet system for consultations prior to forwarding to the Government adoption procedure, publication of reports on conducted consultations on the Internet system for consultations, publication of annual reports on the implementation of Code of Consultations on the Internet system for consultations. Conduct education of state officials and civil servants in state administration bodies and civil servants in local and regional self-government units on the efficient reporting on consultation results Necessary resources: HRK 20,000 Implementation indicators: annually at least two workshops/seminars on conducting consultations held, number of state officials and civil servants attending workshops/seminars. Draw up and publish annual reports on efficiency of application of the Code of Consultation with the interested public in the adoption of new laws, other regulations and acts . Implementation indicators: Drafted and publicly released annual report on the application of the Code of consultation. Publish the composition of working groups and committees for drafting laws, other regulations and acts on the Central state portal Implementation indicators: Regularly updated list and composition of all working groups on the Central state portal (on the Internet system for consultation) Lead institutions: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs; Government of Croatia - public relations office Supporting institutions: Ministry of Administration; Information Commissioner; Digital Information Documentation Office; State Public Administration School; State administration bodies (responsible for the drafting of laws, other regulations and acts) Start date: 1 December 2014, End date: 28 February 2015

IRM End of Term Status Summary

✪11. Improving the Consultation Process with the Interested Public in Legislative Procedures

Commitment Text:

11.1. Establishment of a single interactive Internet system for consultations with the public in procedures of adopting new laws, other regulations and acts

Implementation indicators:

  • establishment of a single Internet system for public consultations
  • draft acts, other regulations and documents for which consultation procedures are held are published in a timely manner on the Internet system for consultations prior to forwarding to the Government adoption procedure
  • publication of reports on conducted consultations on the Internet system for consultations
  • publication of annual reports on the implementation of Code of Consultations on the Internet system for consultations

Lead institutions: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs

Supporting institutions: Ministry of Administration; Information Commissioner; Digital Information Documentation Office; Government of Croatia—Public Relations Office

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2014

11.2. Conduct education of state officials and civil servants in state administration bodies and civil servants in local and regional self-government units on the efficient reporting on consultation results

Necessary resources: HRK 20,000  

Implementation indicators:

  • annually at least two workshops/seminars on conducting consultations held
  • number of state officials and civil servants attending workshops/seminars

Lead institutions: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs

Supporting institutions: State Public Administration School

Start date: Not specified   End date: continuous

11.3. Draw up and publish annual reports on efficiency of application of the Code of Consultation with the interested public in the adoption of new laws, other regulations and acts

Implementation indicators: Drafted and publicly released annual report on the application of the Code of consultation.

Lead institutions: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs

Supporting institutions: State administration bodies

Start date: Not specified   End date: February 2015/2016

11.4. Publish the composition of working groups and committees for drafting laws, other regulations and acts on the Central state portal  

Implementation indicators: Regularly updated list and composition of all working groups on the Central state portal (on the Internet system for consultation)

Lead institutions: Government of Croatia—Public Relations Office

Supporting institutions: Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs; State administration bodies responsible for the drafting of laws, other regulations, and acts

Start date: December 2014   End date: continuous

Commitment Aim:

The aim of the commitment was to improve the existing, ineffective system of public consultations in legislative procedures by further strengthening the implementation of the Code of Consultation and the provisions of the Act on the Right of Access to Information, which deal with public consultations. The action plan committed to doing this by introducing an online consultation system (milestone 11.1), educating officials and civil servants on its use (milestone 11.2), annually reporting on the efficiency of the system (milestone 11.3), and publishing information of working groups drafting the proposed legislation (milestone 11.4).

Status

Midterm: Substantial

11.1. Establishment of a single interactive internet system for consultations with the public in procedures of adopting new laws, other regulations, and acts (complete)

11.2. Conduct education for state officials and civil servants in state administration bodies and civil servants in local and regional self-government units on the efficient reporting of consultation results (complete)

11.3. Draw up and publish annual reports on efficiency of application of the Code of Consultation with the interested public in the adoption of new laws, other regulation,s and acts (complete)

11.4. Publish the composition of working groups and committees for drafting laws, other regulations, and acts on the central state portal (not started)

For the purpose of greater transparency in the entire decision-making process, the government planned to publically release via a single portal the composition of working groups and committees in charge of the drafting of laws, other regulations, and documents. This information was scattered on different webpages, depending on the policy sector in question. This would be a major step towards increasing transparency; however, civic participation might not be affected as strongly since existing legislation already requires that working groups be composed of a diverse group of stakeholders. The responsibility for this commitment was transferred from the Public Relations Office of the Government of Croatia to the Office for Cooperation with NGOs, which worked with a private company on developing the database. However, no visible results regarding this milestone were included in the midterm report.

End of term: Complete

According to the draft self-assessment report, milestone 11.4 was completed in December 2015. The Office for Cooperation with NGOs established a database on the required information, and the database was built with a clear and searchable format. The office started gathering information on working group members from other state bodies in April 2015, and the data collected is now available at the website[Note 56: Available at https://savjetovanja.gov.hr/baza-savjetodavnih-tijela/1118.] with occasional updates.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Outstanding

Civic participation: Outstanding

Public accountability: Outstanding

Previously, the consultation process on legislative proposals was up to each individual agency, which reduced access to information, potential civic participation in the proceedings, and public accountability. This commitment was transformative in its ambition as it was meant to empower citizens to monitor the course of drafting an individual document—from the working group phase to its adoption and publication in the Official Gazette. The public can now become directly involved during the public consultation procedure by providing comments to the proposed text. The e-consultation system has yielded outstanding results because it has simplified the consultation procedure, and it has also made the competent authorities more accountable since they are now obliged to answer each (publically available) comment in a timely manner. For example, in comparison to 2013, there were 63 percent more consultations held in 2015 (608 held in total), and 12 percent more than in 2014.[Note 57: More data on e-consultations is available at https://savjetovanja.gov.hr/UserDocsImages/slike/savjetovanja-2015%20(1).png and in the 2015 government report on the procedure, available at https://savjetovanja.gov.hr/UserDocsImages/dokumenti/Izvje%C5%A1%C4%87e%20o%20provedbi%20savjetovanja%202016.pdf.] Although they mentioned there was room for improvement regarding certain technical aspects and the need for more public promotion of the online tool, the interviewed CSO stakeholders[Note 58: The interviews were conducted in the period from September to October 2015. For more information, see the IRM midterm report.] stated that the e-consultation process works well and that local and regional self-government units should also consider implementing this procedure. As for civic partcipation, the number of participants and comments grow each year: there were over 15,000 comments received in 2015[Note 59: Government Report on e-Consultations, p. 11.] with a total of 5,863 participants (more than 4,100 of whom are individuals).[Note 60: Ibid., p. 9.] Since the government is now obliged to disclose more information in a timely and higher-quality manner and since it created opportunities for the public to influence decisions and for officials to be accountable for their actions, this commitment was outstanding in its bid to open government.

Carried forward?

The next action has not been drafted or released by the government in accordance with the OGP schedule. The IRM researcher suggests the following steps to build on the current achievements:

  • Work on upgrading the e-consultation application in accordance with the needs of users, both citizens and civil servants;
  • Also, provide follow-up information on the e-consultation process within the online tool: how many comments, which were accepted by the competent body proposing the draft law, were actually adopted by the Parliament in the legislative procedure, how meaningful are the explanations given to comments, how valid and true, etc. This would include a improving on the process of justification for rejecting some comments, thus eliminating simple statements such as “not possible” or “irrelevant”;
  • Create tools for stimulating greater participation from local and regional self-government bodies (at least for the bigger cities and/or counties) and carry out training sessions for employees who are in charge of the consultation procedure. . It should be noted that the Office for Cooperation with NGOs has insufficient human and financial resources to provide assistance to an additional number of bodies that would use the application for publishing their reports. However, the Office has contacted the Croatian County Association regarding a possibility of handling consultations for local (556) and regional governments (20);
  • Train civil servants to work in the system and provide technical support in the implementation of consultation to users. A notable example, already in action, is the regular monthly training for civil servants on the use e-Consultations, offered by the Office for Cooperation with NGOs. The Office also organizes general trainings on consultations, in cooperation with the State Public Administration School; and
  • The activity described in milestone 11.4 should be amended to become a more long-term or systematic solution, such as using the existing e-consultation portal to update information on working groups for proposed draft legislation.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership