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Georgia

Introduction of an Electronic Petition Portal and “Zugdidi-INFO” on the Webpage of Zugdidi Municipality Assembly (GE0063)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Georgia National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Zugdidi Municipality Assembly

Support Institution(s): Zugdidi Municipality Town Hall and Municipality non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Public Service Delivery, Subnational

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

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

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Introduction of an electronic petition portal and “Zugdidi-INFO” on the webpage of Zugdidi Municipality Assembly; In the framework of the Action Plan, Zugdidi Municipality Assembly is implementing two projects in the direction of public participation and informativeness: a) by means of webpage http://www.zugdidi.gov.ge, administered by Zugdidi Municipality Assembly, it will be possible to present petitions in electronic format to the representative body; 2) by means of the information center Zugdidi-INFO, citizens will receive information about ongoing infrastructural, cultural, sports or other projects, also about healthcare and social protection programs in the form of SMS. Using the same method, population receives information about the date and agenda of the Assembly meetings. Zugdidi-INFO, a fast and direct communication space with citizens, will improve public participation in self-governance and decision-making process. By means of webpage http://www.zugdidi.gov.ge, administered by the City Assembly, citizens concerned with the various issues will have the opportunity to easily submit petitions in electronic form about their needs and interests to the municipalitites. Date ofImplementation: 2016-2017; Issues to be Addressed: Certain part of the citizens feel indifferent to public participation and involvment in the local self-governance. One of the defining factors for the low interest and activity towards self-government issues is shortage of information. Though self-government bodies in active collaboration with NGOs try to raise public awareness, this issue still calls for additional endeavor. Main Objective: Timely provision of information about the activities of the municipalities to the public so that to improve participation quality.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

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

Commitment Text:

In the framework of the Action Plan, Zugdidi Municipality Assembly is implementing two projects in the direction of public participation and informativeness: a) by means of webpage http://www.zugdidi.gov.ge, administered by Zugdidi Municipality Assembly, it will be possible to present petitions in electronic format to the representative body; 2) by means of the information center Zugdidi-INFO, citizens will receive information about ongoing infrastructural, cultural, sports or other projects, also about healthcare and social protection programs in the form of SMS. Using the same method, population receives information about the date and agenda of the Assembly meetings.

Zugdidi-INFO, a fast and direct communication space with citizens, will improve public participation in self-governance and decision-making process.

By means of webpage http://www.zugdidi.gov.ge, administered by the City Assembly, citizens concerned with the various issues will have the opportunity to easily submit petitions in electronic form about their needs and interests to the municipalities.

Responsible institution: Zugdidi Municipality Assembly

Supporting institution(s): Zugdidi Municipality Town Hall and Municipality non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities

Start date: (Month not provided) 2016 End date: December 2017

Commitment Aim:

Within the commitment, the Zugdidi Municipality Assembly took the responsibility to launch: 1) the Zugdidi-INFO SMS service to deliver news and announcements regarding the local governance and Assembly meetings to citizens; and 2) the electronic petitions portal on the municipality website, in order to diversify the means and simplify the process of submitting policy suggestions to the local government. [101] By sending SMS notifications and providing relevant updates to citizens, the Assembly intended to bolster public interest and engagement in local self-governance. The e-petition mechanism was expected to provide an additional platform to voice citizens’ needs and suggestions for local decision-making.

Status

Midterm: Substantial

By the midterm, the commitment was implemented to a substantial degree, considering that the SMS service was up and running, and the electronic petition portal was under development. Within the Zugdidi-INFO initiative, 11,000 citizens were receiving regular announcements with the time, date, and location of Assembly meetings. Other text messages informed the public about local municipal news, including reconstruction developments. As a result, the service was multifunctional. [102]

End of term: Substantial

The commitment has remained substantially complete at the end of term. Its two key components were technically implemented; however, one is not fully functional.

Zugdidi-INFO SMS service: The SMS service was launched in May 2016 and has been running since. The number of SMS recipients remains at 11,000. [103] SMS notifications are sent from one of the Assembly staff member’s phone numbers. According to a Transparency International (TI) representative, users usually receive announcements regarding the Assembly meetings, as well as report presentations by local government officials. [104] Several local residents who participated in the focus group conducted by the IRM researcher, recalled receiving SMS about an upcoming concert, infrastructure work, and news associated with the local Public Service Hall.

Electronic mechanism for submitting e-petitions: The new website for Zugdidi Municipality Assembly incorporates the electronic petitions portal. However, because of the technical issues, it is not in service and it is not possible to submit e-petitions to the Assembly. [105]

Did It Open Government?

Access to information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Did not change

The Zugdidi-INFO SMS service increased access to information by sending text messages to citizens about the local news and Assembly meetings. While this is a good tool for informing the public, the number of recipients has remained the same since the midterm–reaching up to 11,000 citizens, or a quarter of the population of the Zugdidi municipality. [106] There are no formal procedures for citizens to register for the service. They can write the Assembly on their Facebook page, or contact them through e-mail with the request to add their number to the general database. However, offline registration methods are important, as 35% of Georgians never use the internet, although this number is higher in rural areas (61%) than in urban areas (e.g., Tbilisi has only 15%). [107] While all focus group participants were active internet users, they still mentioned low internet penetration in the villages.

The electronic mechanism for submitting e-petitions did not become functional within the NAP 2016−2018 cycle. Despite incorporating the portal on the new website, the online petition mechanism is not in service and as a result, the e-library of pending, awarded, and rejected online petitions is empty. [108] The Assembly’s plans for launching the electronic portal are vague and might require development of a new website. [109] A TI representative also stated that there is no legal framework for submitting electronic petitions. The citizens are still able to submit hard copies to the Assembly. However, the overall numbers remain low; in 2017, three petitions were submitted to the Assembly in 2018. [110] Some of the proposals requested developing proper drinking-water tanks in two villages, fixing streetlights and other infrastructure, managing waste, installing public litter bins and establishing shelters for stray dogs. The first initiative was fully funded, while the remaining proposals from petitions were either partially funded or rejected. [111]

As the focus group results showed, among the reasons for low engagement can be a lack of public awareness on formal procedures, as well as skepticism about the local government considering citizens’ initiatives. A focus group participant recalled working on an initiative to reduce public transport costs for students, which took around six years of persistent negotiations before being made free in September 2018. Another attendee advised the village representatives to proactively reach out to the population and inform them about ways to engage in the local governance.

The majority of the focus group participants did not know about either of the services. Two participants out of six had received SMS updates; the remaining four participants said they would be interested to get such text messages. In order to increase the impact of Zugdidi-INFO, it is important to raise awareness about the service and offer the public different registration methods.

Carried Forward?

This commitment was substantially completed by the end of term and was not carried forward within the new Action Plan 2018−2019. However, the Zugdidi Municipality Assembly made a new commitment to introduce a Mobile Application for citizens to increase access to information. [112] This multifunctional app intends to provide updates on Assembly meetings and the issues under discussion, while it will also grant access to the calendar of cultural and sports events, and dates for implementing infrastructure projects. NAP 2018−2019 includes another commitment for Zugdidi, which is the development of an online portal allowing citizens to register proposals to the Zugdidi Mayor, who will be responsible for providing feedback. [113]

To improve citizen engagement in local governance, the IRM researcher recommends that the Zugdidi Municipal Assembly and the Town Hall fully utilize tools created through this commitment and explore ways of offline engagement for citizens, particularly in villages, where internet penetration is lower.

  • A standardized registration form could be introduced for the Zugdidi-INFO service, allowing citizens to indicate areas of interests for relevant updates.
  • In order to maximize the effect of the SMS service, conduct awareness-raising campaigns allowing citizens to register on-site, especially in rural areas, with low internet penetration rates. [114]
  • Village representatives could act as mediators between the population and the local governing body by organizing regular meetings.
[101] Government of Georgia, Georgia National Action Plan 2016-2017 (OGP, 3 Nov. 2016), http://bit.ly/2t2eFxU.

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

[103] Giga Kilasonia (Head of the Public Relations and Civil Sector Unit), phone interview with IRM Researcher, 1 Nov. 2018.

[104] Archil Todua (Transparency International Zugdidi Regional Office Coordinator), e-mail correspondence, 1 Nov. 2018.

[105] Kilasonia, interview, October 2018

[106] National Statistics Office of Georgia’s statistics on population by regions and self-governed units is available at: https://bit.ly/2SnTK5w. The total population of the Zugdidi municipality is 42,700, according to the latest National Census data.

[107] Caucasus Research Resources Center, 'FRQINTR: Frequency of internet usage by SETTYPE: Settlement type (%),' https://bit.ly/2SCa3M9.

[108] Zugdidi Municipality, 'Registered petitions' (2019), http://zugdidi.mun.gov.ge/ge/petitions.

[109] Kilasonia, interview, 1 Nov. 2018.

[110] Kilasonia, interview, 1 Nov. 2018.

[111] Institute of Democracy, “Zugdidi Municipality Sakrebulo Responding to citizens' petitions” (2017), https://bit.ly/2DTwGrx.

[112] Government of Georgia, Georgia Action Plan 2018-2019, (OGP, 4 Dec. 2018), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/georgia-action-plan-2018-2019.

[113] Konstantine Kakava (Member of Zugdidi Municipality Assembly), phone interview with IRM Researcher, 1 Nov. 2018.

[114] Caucasus Research Resources Center, 'FRQINTR: Frequency of internet usage by SETTYPE: Settlement type (%).'


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, Money in Politics

  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