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Georgia

Increasing citizen participation in supervision of public finances (Public Audit) (GE0055)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Georgia National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: State Audit Office

Support Institution(s): Advisory group comprising of the representatives of the State Audit Office and civil sector, working on the citizen participation issues in the public finance management supervision

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Oversight of Budget/Fiscal Policies, Public Participation

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: Access to Information Civic Participation , Public Accountability , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Increasing citizen participation in supervision of public finances (Public Audit); In cooperation with the civil sector, the State Audit Office plans to enhance citizen participation in the supervision process of public finances (public audit), that will build their trust in the State Audit Office. At the initial stage a strategy will be drafted, in close cooperation with the civil sector. Considering the best practice of various countries, the strategy will provide mechanisms to ensure constructive citizen participation in the complete audit cycle, including the monitoring stage of recommendation implementation. In addition, by means of an innovative ICT webplatform mechanism, citizens will receive complete information about the state budget, public finance management, audit findings, given recommendations and the status of its implementation. Various methods of visualization will be applied to make information easily perceivable on the web-platform. The webplatform will form a channel for bilateral communication between the State Audit Office and citizens. On the one hand, citizens will become familiar with the information provided by the Audit Office, on the other hand, they will be able to notify the Office about a concrete malefaction, as well as the drawbacks of government services identified by them. Furthermore, citizens will be able to submit proposals based on professional surveys on the improvement of the identified shortcomings. The information received from a citizen will be analyzed and taken into consideration if recommended in the drafting and implementation process of the audit plan. Citizens’ participation in the public audit process will rise public awareness on the budgetary processes and will rise their demand for transparent management of the public resources. Thorough information will improve the quality of citizen supervision of the governance processes. Date ofImplementation: 2016-2017; Issues to be Addressed: Low demand on the transparency and accountability of public finance management resulting the risk of the direction of inefficient public administration. Main Objective: Improving transparency and accountability by citizen participation in the process of public audit; which will promote efficient, productive and economic disposal of budget resources

IRM End of Term Status Summary

✪14. Increasing citizen participation in supervision of public finances (public audit)

Commitment Text:

In cooperation with the civil sector, the State Audit Office plans to enhance citizen participation in the supervision process of public finances (public audit), that will build their trust in the State Audit Office.

At the initial stage a strategy will be drafted, in close cooperation with the civil sector. Considering the best practice of various countries, the strategy will provide mechanisms to ensure constructive citizen participation in the complete audit cycle, including the monitoring stage of recommendation implementation.

In addition, by means of an innovative ICT web platform mechanism, citizens will receive complete information about the state budget, public finance management, audit findings, given recommendations and the status of its implementation. Various methods of visualization will be applied to make information easily perceivable on the web-platform.

The web platform will form a channel for bilateral communication between the State Audit Office and citizens. On the one hand, citizens will become familiar with the information provided by the Audit Office, on the other hand, they will be able to notify the Office about a concrete malefaction, as well as the drawbacks of government services identified by them. Furthermore, citizens will be able to submit proposals based on professional surveys on the improvement of the identified shortcomings. The information received from a citizen will be analyzed and taken into consideration if recommended in the drafting and implementation process of the audit plan.

Citizens’ participation in the public audit process will raise public awareness on the budgetary processes and will rise their demand for transparent management of the public resources. Thorough information will improve the quality of citizen supervision of the governance processes.

Milestones:

Conducting public consultations with the representatives of civil sector for developing and improving various mechanisms of citizen participation in the public audit process

Drafting the citizen participation strategy in the public audit process

Finishing and approving the citizen participation strategy in the public audit process

Defining the concept of webplatform and agreement with the representatives of civil sector

Technical development of a webplatform and its presentation to the society

At least 15 workshops with the representatives of the municipalitites, students and media  are organized by the State Audit Office to rise awareness on the right to request public information and webportal

Shooting a short video on webplatform and its distribution through social media

Responsible institution(s): State Audit Office

Supporting institution(s): Advisory group comprising representatives of the State Audit Office and civil sector, working on the citizen participation issues in the public finance management supervision

Start Date: August 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:

In order to increase transparency and accountability of public finances and involve citizens in decision-making, the State Audit Office (SAO) committed to establish a web platform budgetmonitor.ge. Through this platform, the SAO’s would present up-to-date information on state and municipal budgets in an easily understandable manner; publish audit findings in a user-friendly format; allow citizens to select budget priority areas to be audited by SAO and enable citizens to report cases of corruption confidentially or anonymously.

Status

Midterm: Complete

The commitment was fully implemented as of September 2017. SAO formed a working group with CSO involvement, conducted 14 focus groups to identify end-user preferences, and launched the platform in March 2017. Budgetmonitor.ge offers different sub-pages, including “State Budget,” “Municipal Budget,” “Audits,” “Citizen Page,” and more. By the midterm, SAO conducted 13 out of 15 meetings across Georgia as indicated in the commitment to raise awareness of the portal. For more information, please see the 2016–2017 IRM midterm report. [42] 

After the midterm, SAO conducted numerous meetings with different target groups in order to raise awareness about the portal, including meetings with different Parliament committees and staff, media representatives, students, and others. In total, SAO presented the platform at 11 meetings. [43] Additionally, with the help of USAID, SAO collected feedback from budgetmonitor.ge users on the deficiencies and possible improvements of the portal. SAO also hired an external consultant to analyze the platform and develop an outreach strategy to further promote this resource. [44]

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Major

Civic Participation: Marginal

Public Accountability: Marginal

Since launching the platform, SAO estimates more than 15,000 unique visitors, with an average of 400-500 unique users each month. SAO’s current efforts are directed at increasing returning users. [45] The platform contains multiple features, with information, a corruption-reporting feature, and assistance when being audited. According to end-users of the platform, budgetmonitor.ge simplified access to basic financial data including the state budget, details of the Legal Entities of Public Law, and municipal budgets. [46] CSOs positively assess both the simplicity of the data, and the user-friendly interface of the platform. [47]

The “Citizen Page” enables citizens both to suggest government bodies for auditing as part of the following year’s Annual Audit Plan and to select priority areas for examination–both features providing citizen participation. While the platform offers citizens a direct opportunity to get involved in audit planning and corruption reporting, there is still a low level of citizen participation based on statistics to date.

The “Fight Corruption” sub-page allows citizens to report cases of corruption, which are further studied by a specific auditor, thereby giving citizens a mechanism for holding the government accountable. According to CSOs, the creation of the platform in itself is already an indicator of strong political will to increase accountability. [48] According to SAO, citizen requests are received from various customer modules (e.g., annual audit planning, disclosing corruption, or selecting budget priority areas for examination) and initially screened for relevance. While many requests were received within one year, after initial screening, 25 were deemed relevant to SAO’s work and competences. [49] Out of the 25, 7 identified corruption risks. In total, around 9 requests were taken into consideration in the audit plan. As the annual audit plan is decided at the end of the year, all suggestions received during the year can be potentially incorporated into the plan. It is challenging to make amendments to the existing plan for suggestions received after the plan is adopted, although it has been done. [50] As of September 2018, SAO had submitted 29 reports to the Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation.

According to a researcher at ISET, the platform is a big step however, popularization of it remains problematic. [51] CSO representatives positively assess SAO’s earlier efforts to promote the platform, and stress that meetings organized by the agency to introduce the platform were helpful. The platform was actively promoted through ads on Facebook. According to a Senior Analyst at Transparency International Georgia (TIG) using social media would further help. [52]

Carried Forward?

Based on IRM recommendations, SAO included a related commitment in the 2018−2019 Action Plan (Commitment 11), with a specific focus on citizen engagement in the audit process. Namely, SAO plans to establish a feedback mechanism for citizen input received through budgetmonitor.ge, which will improve the efficiency and timeliness of responses to citizen notifications (audit planning suggestions or corruption case reporting). This will increase citizen trust in the platform. SAO plans to conduct five working groups to increase awareness regarding the platform.

[42] Lasha Gogidze and Tamar Gzirishvili, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Georgia Progress Report 2016-2017 (OGP, 30 Apr. 2018), https://bit.ly/2NIr097.

[43] Tsotne Karkashadze (Head of the State Budget Analysis and Strategic Department), e-mail correspondence with IRM researcher, 15 Oct. 2018.

[44] Karkashadze (State Budget Analysis and Strategic Department), phone interview with IRM researcher, 10 Oct. 2018.

[45] Karkashadze, interview, 10 Oct. 2018.

[46] Lasha Senashvili (Senior Analyst at Transparency International Georgia), phone interview with IRM researcher, 26 Dec. 2018.

[47] Irakli Barbakadze (Researcher at ISET), phone interview with IRM researcher, 26 Dec. 2018; Giorgi Topouria (Senior Analyst at Transparency International Georgia), phone interview with IRM researcher, 23 Aug. 2018.

[48] Senashvili, interview, 26 Dec. 2018.

[49] Citizens often find it hard to distinguish competencies of different government agencies. Therefore, a lot of the suggestions submitted to SAO through the website are irrelevant to SAO’s work (e.g., they refer to tax authorities or other unrelated bodies). SAO screens these suggestions and deals with those that refer to their work. Currently, there is no monitoring mechanism in place to oversee how suggestions are screened. Generally, the agency is assessed positively by local CSOs, and SAO’s will to launch such a platform was commended as a step toward accountability.

[50] Karkashadze, interview, 10 Oct. 2018.

[51] Barbakadze, interview, 26 Dec. 2018.

[52] Senashvili, interview, 26 Dec. 2018.


Georgia's Commitments

  1. improved public services

    GE0066, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. citizen engagement platform

    GE0067, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. unified authentication system

    GE0068, 2018, E-Government

  4. economic governance

    GE0069, 2018, E-Government

  5. environment portal

    GE0070, 2018, E-Government

  6. strengthen anti-corruption institutions

    GE0071, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  7. Monitor SDGs

    GE0072, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. citizen engagement legislation

    GE0073, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  9. publish court decisions

    GE0074, 2018, E-Government

  10. Increasing transparency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs

    GE0075, 2018, E-Government

  11. citizen participation in public finance

    GE0076, 2018, Audits and Controls

  12. transparent public funding system

    GE0077, 2018, Fiscal Transparency

  13. public procurement improvements

    GE0078, 2018, E-Government

  14. housing policy planning

    GE0079, 2018, Land & Spatial Planning

  15. Openness and accountability of state-owned enterprises

    GE0080, 2018, E-Government

  16. transparency and good governance

    GE0081, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  17. open data collection and publication

    GE0082, 2018, E-Government

  18. participation for disabled individuals

    GE0083, 2018, Infrastructure & Transport

  19. Participatory budgeting

    GE0084, 2018, Capacity Building

  20. Your idea for the Zugdidi Mayor

    GE0085, 2018, Capacity Building

  21. electronic services

    GE0086, 2018, E-Government

  22. I. Gov. Zugdidi

    GE0087, 2018, Capacity Building

  23. service and citizen satisfaction assessment

    GE0088, 2018, Capacity Building

  24. Promoting and Monitoring SDGs

    GE0089, 2018, Legislature

  25. Citizen involvement in budget

    GE0090, 2018, E-Government

  26. Technology for Transparency

    GE0091, 2018, E-Government

  27. Citizen Engagement Center

    GE0092, 2018, Capacity Building

  28. Raising Public Awareness about Parliamentary Democracy

    GE0093, 2018, E-Government

  29. Electronic innovations for more transparency and efficiency of Public Procurement

    GE0056, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Starred commitment Adoption of the Environmental Assessment Code

    GE0057, 2016, Capacity Building

  31. Introduction of a mobile app as an alternative channel to connect to “112”

    GE0058, 2016, E-Government

  32. Development of local councils for crime prevention

    GE0059, 2016, Public Service Delivery

  33. Development of a Guidebook for Economic Agents

    GE0060, 2016, Capacity Building

  34. Development and introduction of the quality control program of commercial service

    GE0061, 2016, Capacity Building

  35. Presentation of company reports in an electronic form and provision of their accessibility

    GE0062, 2016, Capacity Building

  36. Introduction of an electronic petition portal and “Zugdidi-INFO” on the webpage of Zugdidi Municipality Assembly

    GE0063, 2016, Capacity Building

  37. Transparency of Ozurgeti Municipality Assembly meetings

    GE0064, 2016, Capacity Building

  38. Creation of Electronic Mechanism for Local Budget Planning in Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, Batumi and Akhaltsikhe

    GE0065, 2016, E-Government

  39. Adapting the Public Service Hall to the needs of the people with disabilities

    GE0042, 2016, Capacity Building

  40. Launch of the unified healthcare system information portal

    GE0043, 2016, Capacity Building

  41. Introduction of electronic licensing system in the field of natural resources application

    GE0044, 2016, Capacity Building

  42. Creation of spatial (Geographic) data web-portal for the energy sector

    GE0045, 2016, Capacity Building

  43. Creation of innovation ecosystem

    GE0046, 2016, Capacity Building

  44. Electronic portal for registering and disposal of State Property – Customer’s Module

    GE0047, 2016, E-Government

  45. Development of the Freedom of Information Law

    GE0048, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  46. Development of a monitoring and assessment system of the Government policy and legislative acts

    GE0049, 2016, Capacity Building

  47. Starred commitment Introduction of the public officials’ asset declarations monitoring system

    GE0050, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  48. Establishing unified regulations to publish court decisions

    GE0051, 2016, Judiciary

  49. Development of transparency and integrity strategy and action plan in the field of regional development and infrastructure

    GE0052, 2016, Capacity Building

  50. Improvement of the database of the convicted and transfer of the penitentiary department entirely onto the electronic workflow management

    GE0053, 2016, Capacity Building

  51. Publication of phone tapping data according to the nature of the crime and geographic area

    GE0054, 2016, E-Government

  52. Starred commitment Increasing citizen participation in supervision of public finances (Public Audit)

    GE0055, 2016, Capacity Building

  53. "Voice of the Consumer"

    GE0013, 2014, Public Participation

  54. JUSTdrive

    GE0014, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  55. Educational services

    GE0015, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  56. Citizen's Portal (www.mygov.ge)

    GE0016, 2014, Capacity Building

  57. Transformation of public libraries for regional development

    GE0017, 2014, Capacity Building

  58. Digital signature and online authentication

    GE0018, 2014, E-Government

  59. Open data portal (data.gov.ge)

    GE0019, 2014, E-Government

  60. Freedom of information act (FoIA) draft

    GE0020, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  61. Georgia's OGP forum

    GE0021, 2014, OGP

  62. I-Change.ge

    GE0022, 2014, E-Government

  63. Transparency of public service recruitment

    GE0023, 2014, E-Government

  64. Asset declaration monitoring system

    GE0024, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  65. Starred commitment Political party financial declarations

    GE0025, 2014, E-Government

  66. Accessibility of Ministry of Interior's webpage to people with special needs

    GE0026, 2014, E-Government

  67. Starred commitment Proactive publishing of surveillance data

    GE0027, 2014, Civic Space

  68. Public awareness of the electoral process

    GE0028, 2014, Capacity Building

  69. Transparency of budgetary processes

    GE0029, 2014, E-Government

  70. Electronic system of procurement

    GE0030, 2014, E-Government

  71. Digital human resource management system

    GE0031, 2014, E-Government

  72. Digital preservation system: E-archive

    GE0032, 2014, E-Government

  73. Openness and accessibility of national archives

    GE0033, 2014, E-Government

  74. Electronic catalogues of Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) archives

    GE0034, 2014, E-Government

  75. Public finance management system

    GE0035, 2014, E-Government

  76. Alternative channels to "112"

    GE0036, 2014, E-Government

  77. Interactive statistics and crime mapping

    GE0037, 2014, E-Government

  78. Travel insurance services

    GE0038, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration

  79. State property registration

    GE0039, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  80. Development of community centers in Georgia

    GE0040, 2014, E-Government

  81. Introduction of e-governance in local self-governments

    GE0041, 2014, E-Government

  82. Public Service Hall-Hub of Public Services

    GE0001, 2012, Citizenship and Immigration

  83. E-Governance in Local Governments

    GE0002, 2012, E-Government

  84. Citizens’ Portal

    GE0003, 2012, E-Government

  85. Easily Accessible and Better Healthcare

    GE0004, 2012, E-Government

  86. Launch Ichange.ge and Data.gov.ge

    GE0005, 2012, E-Government

  87. Platform for Participating in the Legislative Process

    GE0006, 2012, E-Government

  88. Citizens and Justice

    GE0007, 2012, Judiciary

  89. Starred commitment Transparent Party Financing

    GE0008, 2012,

  90. Home-grown concept of E-procurement

    GE0009, 2012, E-Government

  91. E-declarations

    GE0010, 2012, Asset Disclosure

  92. Technology Cares for Safety: ICCMS, Crime Mapping, and Safety in Your Neighbourhood

    GE0011, 2012, E-Government

  93. NGO Forum

    GE0012, 2012, Capacity Building