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Georgia

Introduction of the Public Officials’ Asset Declarations Monitoring System (GE0050)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Georgia National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: LEPL –Civil Service Bureau

Support Institution(s): Government of Georgia; Anti-Corruption Council; LEPL – Data Exchange Agency

Policy Areas

Anti Corruption and Integrity, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies

IRM Review

IRM Report: Georgia End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Georgia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Major Major

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Introduction of the public officials’ asset declarations monitoring system; In compliance with the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service, starting from 2017, the Civil Service Bureau will conduct monitoring of the asset declarations of public officials. Monitoring shall be conducted annually by an independent committee based on obvious and objective criteria, also for the declarations randomly selected by the electronic system. Prior to the civil service reform, this issue was not regulated by the law. There was no tool to audit the economic interest and property data disclosed by public officials. Monitoring of the public officials’ asset declarations aims to improve accountability of public officials and prevent corruptive offences. Date of Implementation: 2016-2017; Issues to be Addressed: The public officials’ asset declarations monitoring system is currently functioning. However, in order to further improve, it is necessary to introduce a declaration monitoring mechanism. For this purpose during 2015 a draft of amendments to the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service with regard to the public officials’ asset declarations monitoring system was adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on October 27, 2015 and will be enacted in 2017.There was no tool to audit the economic interest and asset disclosed by public officials.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

✪ 9. Introduction of the public officials’ asset declarations monitoring system

Commitment Text:

In compliance with the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service, starting from 2017, the Civil Service Bureau will conduct monitoring of the asset declarations of public officials. Monitoring shall be conducted annually by an independent committee based on obvious and objective criteria, also for the declarations randomly selected by the electronic system. Prior to the civil service reform, this issue was not regulated by the law. There was no tool to audit the economic interest and property data disclosed by public officials. Monitoring of the public officials’ asset declarations aims to improve accountability of public officials and prevent corruptive offences.

Responsible institution: LEPL – Civil Service Bureau

Supporting institution(s): Government of Georgia, Anti-Corruption Council, LEPL – Data Exchange Agency

Start date: March 2016 End date: December 2017

Editorial note: This commitment is clearly relevant to OGP values as written, has transformative potential impact, and is substantially or completely implemented and therefore qualifies as a starred commitment.

Commitment Aim:

This pre-existing commitment (since the second action plan in 2014) aimed to create a formal verification mechanism for public officials’ asset declarations. Before, public officials were prone to hiding important information regarding their assets or providing wrong data in their declarations and there was no official mechanism to verify the accuracy of the provided content.   

Status

Midterm: Substantial

At the midterm, the commitment had been substantially implemented. The legal amendments necessary for the operation of the new verification mechanism were approved by parliament in December 2016 and entered into force on 1 January 2017. According to these amendments, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) started monitoring public officials’ asset declarations, which were either selected randomly through the unified electronic system or reported as suspicious by external stakeholders. However, the CSB was not able to create an independent commission in charge of using special methodology for selecting asset declarations for monitoring due to an insufficient number of applications submitted for commission membership. For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm report.

End of term: Substantial

As mentioned above, the CSB was unable to create an independent commission to be composed of CSO and academia representatives. This was due to the insufficient number of applications from academia representatives submitted for commission membership. CSOs critically assessed the provision allowing the CSB to refuse to create the independent commission if there are insufficient applications, arguing that civic groups and journalists should be given an opportunity to apply and help fill the academic quota. They also complained about the CSB’s lack of effort to proactively promote the application announcement through various online and offline sources. The creation of the commission was an important part of the commitment since the commission was supposed to independently select public officials’ asset declarations for monitoring based on the special criteria aimed to fight the corruption in public service. Therefore, the commitment remains incomplete at the end of term.

Did It Open Government?

Public Accountability: Major

Prior to this commitment, there was no official mechanism to verify the accuracy of public officials’ asset declarations. During the reporting period, the CSB used its electronic system to randomly select a total of 284 asset declarations for verification. In addition, the CSB received three reports from external stakeholders, including Transparency International Georgia, to monitor asset declarations of public servants working in the offices of regional governors, local municipal bodies, courts and parliament. Of these, the CSB found irregularities and missing information in 224 declarations and consequently fined their authors or referred them to the Prosecutor’s Office. [25] Based on recent amendments to the law, new sanctions were introduced for violating asset declaration rules, such as a reprimand for minor technical errors and a 20% deduction of the salary in the amount of no less than GEL 500 for providing incomplete or wrong data. At the same time, officials continue to face a fine of GEL 1,000 for late submissions and criminal liability for repeated failure to submit declarations. [26] Finally, in December 2017, the CSB published its first report summarizing the monitoring results of asset declarations described above. [27]

The aforementioned work of the CSB in monitoring asset declarations of Georgian public officials constitutes a major step forward for government accountability in the fight against corruption in public service, especially considering the Bureau’s willingness to address requests of external stakeholders to monitor suspicious declarations. However, these efforts were limited due to the CSB’s inability to establish an independent commission of CSOs and academia representatives who were supposed to use more robust criteria for selecting which declarations to monitor. The establishment of this commission would contribute more significantly to preventing the corrupt behavior of public officials.

Carried Forward?

The commitment was not carried into the new Action Plan 2018−2019. However, this is an important area for anti-corruption efforts in the country.

Civil society recommended that the government determine exactly how many declarations of public officials can be verified from each agency and which specific types of officials can submit classified declarations. They also believe that the CSB should not refuse to create the independent commission based on insufficient applications and should amend the law to allow more flexibility in this regard. For instance, the creation of the commission should not depend upon CSO and academia applications; other interested stakeholders such as journalists should also be given a chance to apply and fill the membership quota. [29] A related suggestion is to promote the application announcement beyond the CSB webpage, including various online, offline, and social media sources. The government plans to create the independent commission and to proactively promote the application process for commission membership per CSO recommendations.

Finally, stakeholders suggested that the government establish an independent anti-corruption agency with authority to investigate corruption cases of high-level politicians and government officials. The current mechanism is an anti-corruption council at the Ministry of Justice, which is composed of government representatives and a few CSOs, but it lacks the mandate to investigate high-level politicians, something CSOs have criticized for a long time. At the same time, the State Security Service is also reluctant to investigate cases involving the ruling party or high-level state officials. As an alternative, CSOs suggest creating a completely independent body that would be given an authority to investigate the cases of so-called “elite corruption.” They believe this would give the fight against corruption considerable momentum at all levels of government in Georgia.

[25] Civil Service Bureau, “2017 Results of Asset Declaration Monitoring” (29 Dec. 2017), https://bit.ly/2QqBUgB.

[26] Law of Georgia, “Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Service,” Art. 20, doc. no. 982 (17 Oct. 1997), http://bit.ly/1Lo3Pbg.

[27] Civil Service Bureau, “2017 Results of Asset Declaration Monitoring.”

[28] Giorgi Nasrashvili (Senior Analyst, Transparency International), Lasha Senashvili (Senior Analyst, TI), and Gigi Chikhladze (Senior Lawyer, TI), interview with IRM researchers, 23 Aug. 2018; Levan Avalishvii (Programs Director) and Saba Buadze, (Anti-Corruption Direction Head), interview with IRM researchers, 22 Aug. 2018.

[29] Nasrashvili, Senashvili, and Chikhladze, interview.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership