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Lithuania

NGO Database, NGO Fund (LT0025)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Lithuania Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance SE Centre of Registers, Consultations are held with various NGOs, as well as the NGO Council. The commitment involves umbrella and national NGOs and the NGO Council; public consultation has been held on the draft law amending the Law on Development of NGOs. The plans are to share international experience and broaden stakeholder consultation (NGO Council).

Policy Areas

Civic Space, E-Government, Freedom of Association, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Open Parliaments

IRM Review

IRM Report: Lithuania Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

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

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

2. Strengthen civic society through the development of non-governmental organisations (‘NGO’) database and NGO fund

31 December 2018 – 31 December 2019
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania
Commitment description
Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment Since 2004, data on legal entities regarded as NGOs have been at the disposal of the state enterprise (SE) Centre of Registers. The expansion of the scope of the data collected and, consequently, the structuration of the data may help create a database to provide public authorities and the public at large with a simple form of information on whether the relevant legal entity is an NGO.
The problem to be solved is that part of the financial resources allocated by the state to strengthen civil society does not reach the intended recipient, as legal entities are not clearly classified (i.e. which are to be regarded as NGOs and which are not), part of the resources intended for strengthening of civil society eventually end up in the hands of public authorities, business associations and so on. This poses challenges for the sustainable development of the civil society sector.

For many consecutive years, NGO projects have been funded from the state budget. However, even though a lot of financial resources have been invested in different projects in different fields, the breakthrough in strengthening NGOs and the quality of their projects has failed to materialise. NGOs are still weakly involved in decision-making processes, fail to immediately and appropriately respond to emerging opportunities regarding decision-making at regional or national level. The main problem to be solved is the weak capacity of NGOs to engage and participate in the decision-making process professionally.
Problem solution/Commitment The problem will be addressed by legally providing that not only public bodies but also legal entities that have the legal form of a charity, support fund and association shall furnish information about their shareholders (members) to the system of the participants of legal entities. Once these data have been properly processed, it will be possible to create a tool that will facilitate easier recognition of NGOs.

The problem will be addressed with the help of financial means – through an NGO fund, which will operate as a programme administered by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, intended to strengthen NGO capacity to participate in public policy and decision-making processes.
Main objective Creation of NGO data base and NGO fund
How will the commitment contribute to solve the problem? Once an NGO database has been established, public authorities and the public will be able to easily and clearly determine whether the relevant legal entity is to be regarded as an NGO and to take this into account when taking a decision regarding the funding of the activities, projects, etc. of such a legal entity.

There are currently no sustainable mechanisms in place to help strengthen the capacity of NGOs to participate in decision-making processes. The creation of an NGO fund will provide a mechanism that will enable strengthening of such capacities; as a sustainable entity, the NGO fund will carry out the regular monitoring (as to the developments regarding the public participation in public policy and decision-making processes) and, in the light of the results, will accordingly improve the fund’s strategy and activities.
Action and its description Expected concrete result Start date: End date:
1. Creation of a legal framework for the operation of the NGO database The necessary legislative amendments submitted to the Government and passed by the Seimas 01/12/2018 31/03/2019
2. Preparation of technical actions necessary for the establishment of the base together with the SE Centre of Registers Completion of actions planned 01/02/2019 01-06-2019
3. Preparation of the NGO database publicity strategy Implementation of the strategy 01/07/2019 31/12/2019
4. Compilation and analysis of information on the practical experience of counterpart NGO funds in other countries and on the activities carried out by such funds Compiled and analysed experience and measures taken by other countries 01/12/2018 28/02/2019
5. Preparing and agreeing NGO fund regulations with interested parties and submitting them to the Minister for approval Preparation and approval of the NGO fund regulations 01/03/2019 01-06-2019
6. Setting up an NGO fund board, which will be responsible for the strategy of the fund NGO fund board put in place 02/06/2019 31/07/2019
7. Launching NGO fund into operation The activities of the NGO fund identified, staff recruited and the fund launched into operation 01/08/2019 01/10/2019
How is the commitment relevant to the values of transparency, accountability and civic participation? The commitment will open up data on NGOs operating in Lithuania, improve the quality of open data and information, and increase the accessibility of availability of information about NGOs to the public and institutions.

The commitment will increase civil society’s access to public funding.

The commitment will strengthen the capacity of NGOs to participate in decision-making processes (linked to the value of civic engagement.
Additional information The provisions related to the premises for the establishment of the NGO database are included in the amendments to the draft law amending the Law on Development of Non-governmental Organisations and other related documents).

A concept of the NGO database has been worked out too. There is an ongoing discussions with the Centre of Registers, Ministry of Justice. For the part of the commitment related to the creation of the NGO database, the estimated budget is EUR 3 million.

For the part of the commitment related to the creation of the NGO fund, negotiations are held with the Ministry of Finance as regards funding sources. Provisions regarding the NGO fund are included in the draft law amending the Law on Development of NGO.

The commitment is part of the Plan for the implementation of the Programme of the 17th Government.
Contact information
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania
Name, title, department, email and telephone number of the responsible person Aurelija Olendraitė,
Chief Adviser for NGOs and Communities,
email: aurelija.olendraite@socmin.lt,
Tel.: 8 70668 248
Other ministries, departments/agencies involved Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Finance
SE Centre of Registers
What civil society organisations, private sector representatives or other stakeholders are you planning to involve in the implementation of the commitment? Do you plan to conduct a public consultation during the implementation of the commitment? Consultations are held with various NGOs, as well as the NGO Council.

The commitment involves umbrella and national NGOs and the NGO Council; public consultation has been held on the draft law amending the Law on Development of NGOs. The plans are to share international experience and broaden stakeholder consultation (NGO Council).

IRM Midterm Status Summary

2. Strengthen civic society through the development of non-governmental organizations (NGO) database and NGO fund

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

Since 2004, data on legal entities regarded as NGOs have been at the disposal of the state enterprise (SE) Centre of Registers. The expansion of the scope of the data collected and, consequently, the structuration of the data may help create a database to provide public authorities and the public at large with a simple form of information on whether the relevant legal entity is an NGO. The problem to be solved is that part of the financial resources allocated by the state to strengthen civil society does not reach the intended recipient, as legal entities are not clearly classified (i.e. which are to be regarded as NGOs and which are not), part of the resources intended for strengthening of civil society eventually end up in the hands of public authorities, business associations and so on. This poses challenges for the sustainable development of the civil society sector. For many consecutive years, NGO projects have been funded from the state budget. However, even though a lot of financial resources have been invested in different projects in different fields, the breakthrough in strengthening NGOs and the quality of their projects has failed to materialize. NGOs are still weakly involved in decision- making processes, fail to immediately and appropriately respond to emerging opportunities regarding decision-making at regional or national level. The main problem to be solved is the weak capacity of NGOs to engage and participate in the decision-making process professionally. The problem will be addressed by legally providing that not only public bodies but also legal entities that have the legal form of a charity, support fund and association shall furnish information about their shareholders (members) to the system of the participants of legal entities. Once these data have been properly processed, it will be possible to create a tool that will facilitate easier recognition of NGOs. The problem will be addressed with the help of financial means – through an NGO fund, which will operate as a programme administered by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, intended to strengthen NGO capacity to participate in public policy and decision-making processes. [9]

Milestones:

2.1. Creation of a legal framework database

2.2. Preparation of technical actions necessary for the establishment of the base together with the SE Centre of Registers

2.3. Preparation of the NGO database publicity strategy

2.4. Compilation and analysis of information on the practical experience of counterpart NGO funds in other countries and on the activities carried out by such funds

2.5. Preparing and agreeing NGO fund regulations with interested parties and submitting them to the Minister for approval

2.6. Setting up an NGO fund board which will be responsible for the strategy of the fund

2.7. Launching NGO fund into operation

Start Date: 31 December 2018

End Date: 31 December 2019

Context and Objectives

There is no central database on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Lithuania. It is unclear which organizations are NGOs and not social businesses or business-oriented associations. The State Enterprise Centre of Registers stores data on every entity operating in the country, but it does not have any filter to distinguish NGOs from other organizations. In addition, this data is not publicly available unless purchased.

Not having an official list of NGOs complicates the funding of civil society organizations (CSOs) through state programs. In a 2015 Transparency International Lithuania survey, 34 percent of Lithuanian NGOs said that national- and municipality-level institutions did not have clear criteria to finance NGO projects and applied different criteria to the definition of an NGO. [10] In addition, most CSOs in Lithuania are small and have an average annual budget of around 3,000 euros. [11] They rely heavily on volunteers instead of full-time employees, and many do not have their own website. [12]

This commitment aims to establish an NGO database and create an NGO fund. The fund would centrally finance NGOs to develop their advocacy skills, increase their capacity to draft legal acts, and participate in policymaking. This commitment is verifiable and measurable, even if some milestones are vague. As admitted by Aurelija Olendraite from the Ministry of Social Security and Labor, currently there is no agreement on what data about NGOs should be public: “[W]e aim to disclose as much as possible, however, officially there is no decision.” [13] In addition, this commitment was carried forward from the previous action plan due to its limited implementation. The milestone to analyze foreign experience was finished during the previous action plan. [14]

This commitment is important to strengthening the voice of civil society and creating better opportunities to engage them in decision-making processes. The NGO database would be the first of its kind in the country. Currently, no official registry exists. Although NGOs are particularly important in sustainable democracies, many are not transparent. Only 7 percent of NGOs declare their financial information and disclose their main donors. [15] If implemented, therefore, this commitment could have a moderate impact on access to information and civic participation. If data on NGOs from the State Enterprise Centre of Registers would be freely open to the public, it would make NGOs more transparent and could set the tone for other sectors to proactively disclose key information for citizens. This commitment could also bring more transparency to public spending and create opportunities to sustainably invest in the capacity of NGOs and civic participation.

However, according to Tomas Kubilius, the chief executive officer 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. [16] The limited scope of the commitment and the lack of information about what data about NGOs would be publicly available make its potential impact moderate rather than transformative.

Next steps

The IRM researcher notes that the deadline for this commitment is the end of 2019—an ambitious goal given that responsible institutions did not manage to implement this commitment in the previous OGP cycle. Nonetheless, this commitment is worthwhile, so the IRM researcher recommends continuing the initiative to the next action plan if either the NGO fund or NGO register are incomplete. If one is not carried out, the IRM researcher also highly recommends an internal assessment to understand the reasons for failing to achieve the goal within the deadlines.

[9] Full commitment text available at https://bit.ly/2HPWuXo. [10] “NGOs Survey on NGO Transparency,” Transparency International Lithuania, 2015, http://www.transparency.lt/nvo-atstovu-apklausa-apie-nvo-skaidruma.   [11] Ibid. [12] Ibid. [13] Aurelija Olendraite, the Ministry of Social Security of Labor, interview by IRM researcher, 27 March 2019. [14] Open Government Partnership, Lithuania IRM End of Term Report 2016-2018, https://bit.ly/2FAI0qR. [15] “Data on NGOs,” NGO Atlas, http://www.nvoatlasas.lt [16] Tomas Kubilius, Human Rights Monitoring Institute, interview by IRM researcher, 13 September 2017.

Commitments

  1. Open Data

    LT0024, 2018, Access to Information

  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, Access to Information

  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

  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, Access to Information

  22. Public Decision-Making Transparency

    LT0013, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  23. Promoting Anti-Corruption Education

    LT0014, 2014, Anti-Corruption

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

    LT0001, 2012,

  25. Centralised Publishing of Information on Government Activities

    LT0002, 2012,

  26. More Extensive Public Consultations

    LT0003, 2012, Public Participation

  27. Promotion of Public Participation in Public Administration Processes

    LT0004, 2012, Legislative

  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

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