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Lithuania

Creation of NGO Fund. (LT0023)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Lithuania National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Government Ministries, Department/Agency

Support Institution(s): Ministry of the Interior; NGO Council, National NGO Coalition

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Civic Space, Freedom of Association, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Lithuania End-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment Based on the recent studies, it can be concluded that the development of the Lithuanian NGO sector and its cooperation with the public institutions remains fragmented and underdeveloped. This is due to several key aspects such as underdeveloped legal environment, unclear role of NGOs in the mechanism of state governance, insufficient opportunities for NGOs to get involved into the decision-making process, uncertain number of registered and active NGOs. Unstructured self-regulation of NGOs limits the possibilities for developing the partnership between NGOs and the state and municipal institutions, as well as possibilities for including NGOs to the public decision-making process. The performance of the NGO Councils established on the basis of the Law on Development of Non-governmental Organisations of 2013 at the national and municipal levels is still poor and does not meet the possibilities for influencing the decision-making processes of the public institutions provided for by this Law. This is due to the closed nature of the public institutions, lack of inclusion of the NGO sector to the public decision-making and the public policy making. Main objective The purpose of this instrument is to create a National civil society fund (NGO development programme). The fund for strengthening the civil society (of the NGO sector) is dedicated to strengthening the national and umbrella organizations for the sake of their operational efficiency in representing the interests of their members (NGOs) in the public institutions, improving the legal and tax environment of NGOs, developing advocacy skills, performing a continuous monitoring of the development of the NGO sector and assessment of the policies implemented by the public institutions as regards to the provision of public services and the inclusion of the citizens to the decision-making process. Brief description of commitment The purpose of the fund is to finance the strengthening of institutional capacities of NGOs required for participation in the public decision-making process, as well as drafting of proposals by NGOs on decisions of public governance and presentation to the interested institutions and the public; strengthening of competences of NGO representatives required for the drafting and presentation of such proposals. The fund will promote the creation of the self-regulation mechanisms of the NGO sector, creation of transparency and accountability standards, communication of its activities by various means to the public, cultivation of competences and skills for participation in the public policies and their implementation with the aim to provide high-quality public services for the population.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

9. Creation of NGO fund

Commitment Text:

The purpose of the fund is to finance the strengthening of institutional capacities of NGOs required for participation in the public decision-making process, as well as drafting of proposals by NGOs on decisions of public governance and presentation to the interested institutions and the public; strengthening of competences of NGO representatives required for the drafting and presentation of such proposals. The fund will promote the creation of the self-regulation mechanisms of the NGO sector, creation of transparency and accountability standards, communication of its activities by various means to the public, cultivation of competences and skills for participation in the public policies and their implementation with the aim to provide high-quality public services for the population.

Responsible institution: Ministry of the Interior

Supporting institutions: Ministry of Social Security and Labour, NGO Council, National NGO Coalition

Start date: 31 December 2016

End date: 31 December 2017

Context and Objectives

There is currently no data on how much Lithuania spends to finance NGOs.[Note: NGO Transparency research, Transparency International Lithuania, 2015, http://www.transparency.lt/tils-tyrimai-ir-analizes/. ] According to a 2015 Transparency International Lithuania survey, 34 percent of Lithuanian NGOs say that national-and municipality-level institutions do not have clear criteria to finance NGO projects, and that the selection process is not transparent.[Note: 'NGOs Survey on NGO transparency', Transparency International Lithuania, 2015, http://www.transparency.lt/nvo-atstovu-apklausa-apie-nvo-skaidruma/. ] This commitment aims to strengthen the capacity of NGOs to participate in the decision-making process by creating a National Civil Society Fund (NGO Fund). The NGO Fund would finance different programs specifically for NGOs that want to develop their advocacy skills, increase their capacity to draft legal acts, and participate in policymaking. It would also focus on financing communication projects within NGO networks and would have a special program for training in cases when NGOs need to replace public sector institutions to carry out their social services.

There are over 2,000 registered NGOs in Lithuania,[Note: Data from a voluntarily NGO Register 'NGO Atlas,' http://www.nvoatlasas.lt. ] which have an average annual budget of around 3,000 EUR.[Note: 'NGOs Survey on NGO Transparency', Transparency International Lithuania, 2015,http://www.transparency.lt/nvo-atstovu-apklausa-apie-nvo-skaidruma/. ] Most NGOs in Lithuania are small local organizations that rely heavily on volunteers instead of full-time employees, and many do not have their own website. Because they often face difficulty participating in the decision-making process, the NGO Fund became an important commitment for the NGO community. As the CEO of Non-Governmental Organisations Information and Support Centre Martinas Zaltauskas noted, the idea to have an NGO Fund is more than ten years old, so NGOs wanted to take the opportunity and the commitment into their own hands.[Note: Martinas Zaltauskas, Non-Governmental Organisations Information and Support Centre, stakeholders' meeting, 1 August 2017.]

While the creation of the NGO Fund is measurable and deliverable, and a specific annual budget (2 million EUR) is mentioned, the commitment does not provide criteria for which NGOs will receive funding and which public services will be transferred to NGOs. Therefore, the commitment’s specificity is marked as medium. If created, the NGO Fund would strengthen NGOs to improve their capability to influence decisions. However, the potential impact of the commitment depends on the budget and the financial flows to be distributed to Lithuanian NGOs. The working group of NGOs has estimated that to finance around 700 NGOs per year, the Fund would need an annual budget of 19 million EUR.[Note: Tomas Kubilius, Human Rights Monitoring Institute, interview by IRM researcher, 13 September 2017.] This is far greater than what the action plan has foreseen: no more than 2 million EUR per year. According to Tomas Kubilius, the CEO of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, the Fund is timely and important, but its focus is too narrow: it specifically targets NGOs that participate in public policy, but there are many more NGOs that need assistance in carrying out their activities.[Note: Tomas Kubilius, Human Rights Monitoring Institute, interview by IRM researcher, 13 September 2017.] Because of the inadequate budget expected to be allocated to the NGO Fund and the lack of understanding about the Fund’s final model, the potential impact is rated as minor. The commitment also says that NGO Fund would bring more transparency to public spending, but does not specify how it would do this. The extent to which the Fund might open government could increase once the model is finalized and confirmed.

Completion

The deadline for implementing this commitment is 31 December 2017, and the Office of the Government marked the progress as 'half way' in their self-assessment report.[Note: Self-assessment report of the Office of the Government, 11 September 2017, http://epilietis.lrv.lt/uploads/epilietis/documents/files/OGP%20ataskaita_LT_galutine.pdf. ] However, at the time of writing this report (September 2017), none of the results have been achieved. According to the participants of the stakeholders meeting, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour is in contact with a working group of NGOs, which is drafting the concept of the Fund for the Ministry and proposing how the Fund might operate.[Note: Stakeholders meeting, 1 August 2017.] Although NGOs claimed to be satisfied with the role of the Ministry, some added that all the work is being done by the NGOs.[Note: Stakeholders meeting, 1 August 2017.] Eitvydas Bingelis, the vice-minister at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, said that this method was chosen because it is very important the proposal comes from NGOs themselves.[Note: Eitvydas Bingelis, Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, interview by IRM researcher, 25 September 2017.]

After the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour confirms the Fund concept, the Fund must be discussed and passed in the Parliament. So far, the proposal has not reached the Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, because it is still being drafted. One of the reasons for this delay is that the commitment falls under the Program of the Government, where the deadline for the NGO Fund is the second quarter of 2018.[Note: The decree of the Government, No. 167, 13 March 2017, https://www.e-tar.lt/portal/lt/legalAct/2389544007bf11e79ba1ee3112ade9bc. ] This is a strategic national document having priority over the OGP action plan and serves as a baseline for the commitment.

Based on the above-mentioned reasons, it is unlikely the commitment will be implemented on time and probably will continue into 2018.

Next Steps

Due to its importance to the NGO community, the IRM researcher recommends carrying this commitment forward to the next action plan. However, to have a greater potential impact, the commitment language should be more specific and detailed when it comes to planned results.

Also, the current situation suggests that the commitment was included in the action plan with no proper discussions among the NGOs, as the stakeholders of the initiative are discussing the concept of the NGO Fund from the very beginning. Therefore, if the commitment is carried forward, the IRM researcher recommends working with NGOs and other stakeholders in closer dialogue to be able to reach a consensus on how this Fund should operate.

IRM End of Term Status Summary


Lithuania's Commitments

  1. Open Data

    LT0024, 2018, E-Government

  2. NGO Database, NGO Fund

    LT0025, 2018, Civic Space

  3. Publish Fiscal Information

    LT0026, 2018, E-Government

  4. Public Services by NGOs

    LT0027, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Monitoring and Evlauation for Public Participation

    LT0028, 2018, Public Participation

  6. Legislative Process Evaluation

    LT0029, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Build Open Data Portal, and Integrate Into the European Single Digital Market.

    LT0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  8. Publicize Information About Government Activities and Civic Participation in Governance.

    LT0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Publish Online Information About Revenues and Spending of National and Municipal Institutions

    LT0017, 2016, E-Government

  10. Create and Broadcast Social Advertisements That Target Corruption in the Healthcare System

    LT0018, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  11. Create Legal, Organizational and Technical Tools to Easily Access Detailed Information About Election and Voting Procedures

    LT0019, 2016, E-Government

  12. Create Public Consultation Mechanism

    LT0020, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Foster Open Public Governance Culture in Public Sector

    LT0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  14. Creation of NGO Database.

    LT0022, 2016, Civic Space

  15. Creation of NGO Fund.

    LT0023, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Public Service Quality Improvements

    LT0007, 2014, Capacity Building

  17. Developing and Promoting E-Services

    LT0008, 2014, E-Government

  18. Encouraging Public Participation

    LT0009, 2014, E-Government

  19. Raising Civic Awareness

    LT0010, 2014, Education

  20. National Civil Society Fund Model Development

    LT0011, 2014, Civic Space

  21. Accessibility of Public Information

    LT0012, 2014, E-Government

  22. Public Decision-Making Transparency

    LT0013, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  23. Promoting Anti-Corruption Education

    LT0014, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  24. Increase of the Accessibility of the Information Held by Public Administration Authorities.

    LT0001, 2012, Records Management

  25. Centralised Publishing of Information on Government Activities

    LT0002, 2012, Records Management

  26. More Extensive Public Consultations

    LT0003, 2012, Public Participation

  27. Promotion of Public Participation in Public Administration Processes

    LT0004, 2012, Legislature

  28. Increasing the Accessibility of Services Provided to the Public.

    LT0005, 2012, E-Government

  29. Promotion of Public Participation in the Process for the Improvement of Service Provision

    LT0006, 2012, Public Participation