Assessing Impact of Draft Decisions and Making the Results Publicly Available (LT0032)
Action Plan: Lithuania Action Plan 2021-2023
Action Plan Cycle: 2021
Lead Institution: Office of the Government
Support Institution(s): Public Relations Unit, Office of the Government Open Government Group, Office of the Government Ministerial units in charge of public relations Ministerial sector-specific units involved in drafting of greaterimpact legislation; Where appropriate, public consultations on individual actions may take place.
Policy AreasDemocratizing Decision-Making, E-Government, Open Parliaments, Regulatory Governance
Status quo and problem addressed by the commitment Article 15 of the Law on Legislative Framework provides that when drawing up a draft legal act which provides for regulation of previously unregulated relations, also whereby legal regulation is substantially amended, assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation must be carried out. The comprehensiveness of this assessment must be proportionate to the likely consequences of the envisaged legal regulation. According to Article 15(3) of the Law on Legislative Framework, the results of assessment of the effect of envisaged legal regulation provided for in a draft law or another draft legal act of the Seimas shall be presented in an explanatory note or a separate document, e.g. following the Regulatory impact assessment guidelines, the results of the impact assessment may be presented in a regulatory impact assessment certificate. Also, following Articles 21.2 and 38.1 of the Rules of Procedure of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the letter (submission) submitting a draft legislation for feedback or for Government’s consideration must specify the problem to be addressed through the legislative proposal, the substance of regulation proposed through legislative proposal: solution of the issue (solution measures), solution costs, benefits and/or expected outcomes. Information must be concise, the problem to be addressed must be substantiated by data, the costs, and benefits of the implementation of the proposed solution must be substantiated by quantitative and/or qualitative assessments. All draft legislation and accompanying documentation (submission, explanatory note, regulatory impact assessment certificate, etc.) must be published in the Legal Acts Information System (in Lithuanian: TAIS), which is free and accessible to all the people and stakeholders. Hence, impact assessment of legislative proposals is available to the public at large, including academic and business communities and all the stakeholders. However, such publication of results of the assessment of the potential regulatory impact is not always acceptable to the public, so there is a need to publicise certain Government decisions in a more publicly acceptable and comprehensible form. The Government can approve up to 1.400 different decisions per year, which greatly differ in terms of their scope and the diversity of matters to be regulated but also in terms of their significance (as legislation is improved and amended also in editorial and technical terms) and the extent of possible consequences. For example, only about 170 from 1.400 of annual average of Government-approved decisions are related to the approval of relevant draft packages. As we know, all the key provisions of state-regulated societal relations must be consolidated in law, hence, presumably it would be best to find ways to inform the public in simple and clear language about positive and/or negative consequences of key laws that are or will be deliberated by the Government. Every six months, the Government selects, from its legislative plan, draft legislation that can potentially have greater impact. Projects are selected on the basis of specific greater impact criteria agreed by the Government. The number of such projects ranges on average from 8 to 10 in six months. Given that greater impact legislation is selected, it is appropriate that during public consultations and/or adoption of such legislation the public is informed in greater detail and in a more comprehensible and accessible manner about the expected benefits and consequences. It would also be appropriate to store and publicise the results of impact assessments of the selected greater-impact legislation in one place making them accessible to the general public and academia, as well as to all the stakeholders.
Problem solution/commitment Develop a mechanism for presenting the expected benefits and potential consequences of Government decisions that may have a considerable impact on society, in full or in part, or on certain specific target groups in a comprehensible and publicly acceptable manner.
Main objective Provide clear and comprehensible public information about the expected benefits and costs of potentially greater-impact legislation under Government’s consideration, and underlying reasons for the specific decisions.
How will the commitment contribute to the public problem? The mechanism for presenting the expected benefits and potential consequences of Government decisions that may have a considerable impact on society in a simple and publicly accessible and convenient manner will enable public access to and better understanding of Government decisions and their expected benefits and consequences after enactment. The introduction of standardised publicity of the benefits and consequences of the proposed regulation is expected to lead to a more cautious approach by law-drafting civil servants in their assessment and documentation of potential benefits and consequences for the general public or certain target groups.
What steps will be taken towards this objective? Distribute over time planned steps and expected outcomes
Step and its description Expected practical outcome Start date End date 1. Develop a mechanism (process) for informing the public about expected benefits and consequences of potentially greater-impact legislation under Government’s deliberation. The mechanism should cover the responsibilities and duties of the participants in the process (Office of the Government and ministries), deadlines, ways of sharing information, etc. Process ready (described) as to who, when, and in what way disseminates information to the public about the expected benefits and consequences of potentially greater-impact legislation under Government’s deliberation 01/03/2021 01/05/2021 2. Develop a template for a press release (or other chosen method) to provide information to the public in a uniform manner. The template should set out the requirements and clearly structure the content of the information to be published. Public relations staff should be involved in the development of the template Template for a press release (or other chosen method) agreed between the Office of the Government and ministries 01/05/2021 01/07/2021 3. Present the results of steps 1 and 2 to decision makers A decision made to organise public information about 01/07/2021 01/09/2021 expected benefits and consequences of potentially greater-impact legislation under Government’s deliberation in the proposed manner 4. Publish the results of the assessment of greater-impact legislation on My Government portal. Publish structurally in one place the results of impact assessments Anyone interested now has easier access to the results of the impact assessments of potentially greaterimpact legislation 31/01/2021 31/01/2022 and onwards
How is the commitment relevant to the values of transparency, accountability, and civic participation? The commitment will increase the dissemination of information on the expected benefits and consequences of greater-impact legislation under Government’s deliberation to the public and certain target groups, and it will directly contribute to increasing public accountability and transparency in decision-making. Simpler and clearer information to the public about potential benefits and costs of Government decisions will help the public to better understand and judge decisions and discuss their reasonableness. The implementation of the commitment can encourage civil servants, who draft legislation on publicly relevant issues, to carry out public consultations during the decision-making phase, which would contribute to public involvement in public governance and public policy solutions.