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Georgia

Strengthen Anti-Corruption Institutions (GE0071)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Georgia Action Plan 2018-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, State Security Service of Georgia, Ministry of Justice of Georgia

Support Institution(s): Civil Service Bureau, EC project, Transparency International – Georgia, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IFID), Open Society – Georgia Foundation, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA). EC project, Transparency International – Georgia, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IFID), Open Society – Georgia Foundation, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA).

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Capacity Building, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Georgia Transitional Results Report 2018-2019, Georgia Design Report 2018-2019

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: No IRM Data

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Commitment 6: Strengthening the existing major Anti-Corruption Institutions

Pursuant to the Corruption Perceptions Index prepared by the Transparency International, Georgia, according to the 2017 data, is ranked the 46th among 180 countries. As for the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index, Georgia is ranked the first in the Central Europe and East Asia Region and the 38th in the world among 113 countries (2017-2018 Edition). The political will of the GoG for the drive to combat corruption has been expressed in the commitments undertaken by the government on the international arena, new strategic documents and purposeful anti-corruption policy.

The GoG is aware that the combat against corruption cannot be a single reform or a process restricted in time. The prevention of corruption requires constant and continuous efforts for establishing an honest and accountable public service.

For the purpose of promoting the effective implementation of a common anti-corruption policy, an Anti-corruption Interdepartmental Coordination Council has been established. The Council operates based on the basic anti-corruption policy implementation principles: complexity, corruption reduction and result-targeted approach, law rule protection, coordination among state agencies, civil sector engagement, accountability and consideration of foreign experience, process transparency, etc. The key structures in terms of fighting corruption are the Division of the Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Agency under the State Security Service of Georgia. The former is responsible for investigating and prosecuting especially serious corruption crimes, while the latter – for the fight against public offences committed by persons employed in the public sector and implementation of the measures for investigating, identifying and preventing such crimes.

Commitment 6: Strengthening the existing major Anti-Corruption Institutions
Lead Agency Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, State Security Service of Georgia, Ministry of Justice of Georgia
Other Involved Actors Public Agency Civil Service Bureau
Civil Society /Private Sector/ International organization EC project, Transparency International – Georgia, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IFID), Open Society – Georgia Foundation, Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA).
Issues to be Addressed In spite of recent significant efficiency of the ACC, the priority of the GoG is the constant improvement of corruption combat mechanisms. At that, according to international recommendations and views of the non-governmental sector representatives, the ACC and other anti-corruption bodies need to be further strengthened. Under this plan, the GoG commits itself to identify the effective corruption combat means, to strengthen the respective anti-corruption bodies based on the appropriate assessment and analysis.
Given the above, the government’s aim is to minimize all the forms of corruption, including the corruption of complex form. The GoG shall hold respective consultations with the civil sector.
Main Objective In terms of fighting corruption, institutional strengthening of anti-corruption divisions in the principal anti-corruption bodies based on their corruption risk assessment and increasing accountability of the ACC.
OGP Challenge Improving public service

OGP Principles Transparency Accountability Citizens Participation Technologies and Innovations
  
Milestones to Fulfill the Commitment New or ongoing commitment Start date: End date:
Elaboration by the Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Council (ACC) in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Council and OGP Forum members of a Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology. October 2018 March 2019
According to the Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology, assessment of corruption risks in anticorruption divisions (informing the corruption risk assessment progress to the Forum and consideration at the Forum). March 2019 September 2019
Enhancing accountability of the ACC Council (ACC shall submit an annual report to Parliament of Georgia) New April 2019 December 2019
According to the corruption risk assessment results and needs, strengthening of the Anti-Corruption Agency under the State Security Service of Georgia the Division of the Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. New September 2019 December 2019
Periodical trainings of persons engaged in the investigation of corruption crimes and criminal prosecution in the direction of specialization, including the matters of corruption crimes committed by legal persons and international corruption crimes investigation and criminal prosecution. New January 2019 November 2019
Indicator The Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology has been prepared. The corruption risk assessment has been conducted in cooperation with independent experts and pursuant to law. Specialization of respective trainees has improved.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

Commitment 6: Strengthening the Existing Major Anti-Corruption Institution

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“Pursuant to the Corruption Perceptions Index prepared by Transparency International, Georgia, according to the 2017 data, is ranked 46th among 180 countries. As for the World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index, Georgia is ranked the first in Central Europe and East Asia Region and 38th in the world among 113 countries (2017-2018 Edition). The political will of the GoG for the drive to combat corruption has been expressed in the commitments undertaken by the government on the international arena, new strategic documents and purposeful anti-corruption policy.

The GoG is aware that the combat against corruption cannot be a single reform or a process restricted in time. The prevention of corruption requires constant and continuous efforts for establishing an honest and accountable public service.

For the purpose of promoting the effective implementation of a common anti-corruption policy, an Anti-corruption Interdepartmental Coordination Council has been established. The Council operates based on the basic anti-corruption policy implementation principles: complexity, corruption reduction and result-targeted approach, law rule protection, coordination among state agencies, civil sector engagement, accountability and consideration of foreign experience, process transparency, etc. The key structures in terms of fighting corruption are the Division of the Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Agency under the State Security Service of Georgia. The former is responsible for investigating and prosecuting especially serious corruption crimes, while the latter — for the fight against public offences committed by persons employed in the public sector and implementation of the measures for investigating, identifying and preventing such crimes

In spite of recent significant efficiency of the ACC, the priority of the GoG is the constant improvement of corruption combat mechanisms. At that, according to international recommendations and views of the non-governmental sector representatives, the ACC and other anti-corruption bodies need to be further strengthened. Under this plan, the GoG commits itself to identify the effective corruption combat means, to strengthen the respective anti-corruption bodies based on the appropriate assessment and analysis.

Given the above, the government’s aim is to minimize all the forms of corruption, including the corruption of complex form. The GoG shall hold respective consultations with the civil sector.”

Milestones: 

  1. Elaboration by the Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Council (ACC) in cooperation with the Anti-Corruption Council and OGP Forum members of a Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology
  2. According to the Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology, assessment of corruption risks in anti corruption divisions (informing the corruption risk assessment progress to the Forum and consideration at the Forum)
  3. Enhancing accountability of the ACC Council (ACC shall submit an annual report to Parliament of Georgia)
  4. According to the corruption risk assessment results and needs, strengthening of the Anti-Corruption Agency under the State Security Service of Georgia Division of the Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office.
  5. Periodical trainings of persons engaged in the investigation of corruption crimes and criminal prosecution in the direction of specialization, including the matters of corruption crimes committed by legal persons and international corruption crimes investigation and criminal prosecution.

Start Date: October 2018

End Date: December 2019

Editorial note: For the full text of this commitment, please see https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/georgia-action-plan-2018-2019/.

Context and Objectives

Currently, there are three major anti-corruption governmental institutions in Georgia: the Intergovernmental Anti-Corruption Council (ACC), which is a consultative body under the Ministry of Justice; a division of the Criminal Prosecution of Corruption Crimes under Chief Prosecutor’s Office; and the Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service. This commitment envisages the elaboration of a corruption risk assessment methodology by Georgia’s ACC, in collaboration between the ACC and the OGP multi-stakeholder forum.

The ACC is responsible for developing anti-corruption policies and for monitoring the implementation of relevant strategies and action plans. Currently, the ACC consists of 55 members, 17 of which represent local and international nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, donors, and business associations. [29]

The government also plans to institutionalize the submission of ACC annual reports to the Parliament as well as the periodic conducting of trainings for persons engaged in the investigation of corruption and criminal prosecution. The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation because it calls for the development of an ACC corruption risk assessment methodology in collaboration with civil society organizations (CSOs). The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of public accountability because the ACC is meant to strengthen the accountability and anti-corruption framework in Georgia.

Many civil society members of Georgia’s multi-stakeholder forum did not endorse this commitment’s inclusion in the action plan during the co-creation process. Instead, civil society advocated for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption agency. Key civil society argued that the existing institutional framework for anti-corruption does not provide effective mechanisms for investigating and preventing high-level corruption. According to key civil society stakeholders, the creation of an independent anti-corruption agency could guarantee more political independence. [30]

Instead of considering the creation of a separate, independent anti-corruption agency, [31] the government argued for strengthening existing anti-corruption institutions. It reasoned that existing anti-corruption institutions have been performing well and there was no need to establish a separate, independent agency, nor sufficient argumentation presented to prove the effectiveness of creating a new agency. Government and civil society members of the multi-stakeholder forum could not reach a compromise, and the government included this commitment in the action plan without the endorsement of key anti-corruption CSOs.

Milestones 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 are verifiable. They describe particular actions and outputs, such as, respectively, development of methodology, assessment of corruption risks, and institutionalization of annual reporting to the Parliament. However, Milestone 6.4 and 6.5 do not provide information on particular steps, quantified outputs, or specific indicators. 

Despite Georgia's significant achievements in fighting against corruption over the past decades, [32] Georgia still faces challenges. As recognized by several international organizations and institutions—such as the European Parliament and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [33]—elite corruption remains a major challenge in Georgia. [34] In a recent resolution on Georgia, [35] the European Parliament also noted the country’s challenges in terms of high-level corruption and pointed to the need to establish an anti-corruption service as an independent body


Given the success in recent decades and Georgia’s ambition to become an exemplary country for fighting corruption regionally and globally, it is difficult to consider this commitment a step toward fighting corruption. This statement is supported by most of the stakeholders, as well as Forum member CSOs. [36] Stakeholders point out that the commitment will not be effective in mitigating corruption, since a major contributor to corruption in Georgia is government red tape and structural problems. [37] They note that the absence of political will perpetuates corruption in public procurement tenders. Instead, this commitment intends to strengthen the existing flawed system.

Next steps

Considering the large gap between this commitment’s planned activities and the expectations of most civil society stakeholders during the co-creation process, the IRM researcher recommends future action plans require an independent, objective, and politically neutral comprehensive assessment of the country’s anti-corruption needs and the effectiveness of current institutional frameworks to address the same. This could involve experts from various international organizations. The parties could conduct an independent analysis of any shortcomings of the current institutional framework and assess whether an independent agency could address those shortcomings.

[29] http://justice.gov.ge/Ministry/Index/170.

[30] Giorgi Oniani, Deputy Executive Director at Transparency International–Georgia, interview with the IRM researcher, 30 May 2019.

[31] Zurab Sanikidze, Head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, interview with the IRM researcher, 3 May 2019.

[32] Examples of reports and international indexes assessing corruption-related achievements include, but are not limited to

[33] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Anti-Corruption Reforms in Georgia: 4th Round of Monitoring of the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan, 2016, https://bit.ly/2Lhk8O8; and Greco, Fourth Evaluation Round Georgia: Corruption Prevention in Respect of Members of Parliament, Judges and Prosecutors, 17 January 2017, https://bit.ly/2LhkjJi.

[34] Examples of media articles reporting the situation related to elite corruption include, but are not limited to

  • Dato Parulava “EU Criticises Elite Corruption, Lack of Skilled Staff and More in Georgia AA Report,” OC Media, 15 November 2018, https://bit.ly/2oayc1Y
  • IDFI, “The Georgian National Anti-Corruption System Is Ineffective against High Level Corruption,” 12 October 2018, https://bit.ly/2AaWbkN
  • Georgia Today, “The Fight against Elite Corruption Remains a Challenge for Georgia,” 15 October 2018, https://bit.ly/2BBnYuO.
  • “Survey: Most Georgians Believe Officials Are Corrupt,” JAM News, 5 April 2019, https://bit.ly/2MJUnFV.
  • Vano Chkhikvadze, “The Eastern Partnership: What’s Next for Georgia,” Heinrick Boll Stiftung, 12 September 2019, https://bit.ly/2N78Uuh.
  • “Elite Corruption: Money and Interest,” 12 October 2018, https://bit.ly/2MM07z3.
  • “Nino Lomjaria: Signs of Elite Corruption in Business Must Be Answered,” 18 September 2018, https://bit.ly/2qGTO7c.

[35] European Parliament, “EU Association Efforts: MEPs Praise Georgia and Criticise Moldova,” 9 October 2018, https://bit.ly/2XHVTzd.

[36] IDFI proposed commitments for the 2018–2019 OGP national action plan, https://bit.ly/2J25icT.

[37] Giorgi Meladze, Director of Constitutional Research Center and Associate Professor in the Law School at Ilia State University, interview with the IRM researcher, 8 June 2019.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Strengthen the existing major anti-corruption institution

Theme II: Increasing Public Integrity

Limited

The Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Council (ACC) prepared the Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology with the support of the EU technical assistance project “Support to Public Administration Reform in Georgia”. The methodology was based on “internationally acclaimed best practice: Corruption Risk Assessment Standards” [35] utilized by international organizations such as OECD, the UN, and the EU. In December 2019, ACC officially approved the methodology. [36]

Various agencies conducted short trainings for persons engaged in investigating corruption and criminal prosecution. 16 prosecutors and investigators, 18 employees of the State Security Service, and 23 interns were trained. [37] According to civil society stakeholders, [38] the scale of the trainings was limited because the number of trained personnel and interns was insufficient, and the trainings did not respond to existing corruption challenges.       

ACC did not perform the corruption risk assessments based on the new methodology or institutionalize annual reporting to parliament within the action plan timeframe. Accordingly, civil society stakeholders unanimously assessed this commitment as limited in both completion and impact. [39]

[36] Ibid.
[37] Open Government Georgia, Georgia Status Report on Implementation of the action plan for 2018-2019, https://ogpgeorgia.gov.ge/en/monitoring-and-evaluation/
[38] Davit Maisuradze, Open Governance Direction Head at Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, interview with IRM researcher, 30 November 2020. Giorgi Topuria, Senior Analyst at Transparency International-Georgia, interview with IRM researcher, 26 November 2020.
[39] Ibid.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership