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Mongolia

Improve Glass Account System (MN0030)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Mongolia Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Central Government Authority

Support Institution(s): All regulators of budget; Units implementing the project “Citizens monitor budget” NGO Network, NGOs for Audit and Monitoring MNB, Mongolian Journalism Association MNCCI

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption Institutions, Audits and Controls, E-Government, Fiscal Transparency, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Mongolia Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment: Activities to ensure budget and financial transparency have an important impact on the implementation of the Law on Glass Account (2014) and all government organisations are now beginning to their budget spending’s more transparent to the public. Despite this achievement, there is a public suspicion stating that government agencies are hiding their budget spending by dividing their expenses over 5 million on the actual budget spending. This it is necessary to reduce the transaction transparency threshold to MNT 1 million for government organisations. Main Objective: Increase transparency of the budget and financial activities Brief Description of commitment (140 character limit): Improve and refine indicators for measuring the budget and financial information transparency of government organisations. While strengthening response mechanisms to respond to complaints and feedback of citizens and civil society organisations.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

9. Promoting glass account system

Commitment Text:

Improve and refine indicators for measuring budget and financial information transparency of government organizations. While strengthening the government's capacity to respond to complaints and feedback of citizens and civil society organizations.

Status quo or problem addressed:

Activities aimed at ensuring budget and financial transparency have had an important impact on the implementation of the Law on Glass Account (2014), and all government organizations are now beginning to make their budget spending more transparent to the public. Despite this achievement, there is public suspicion regarding government agencies hiding their budget spending by dividing their expenses over 5 million on the actual budget spending. Because of this, it is necessary to reduce the transaction transparency threshold to MNT 1 million for government organizations.

Main Objective: Increase transparency of the budget and financial activities

Milestones:

9.1. Promote an updated and improved online system for the Law on glass account on a regular and continuous basis.

9.2. In addition to the transaction information for the spending above 5 million in the budgets and finance, the government should upload information about decisions and main agreements in relation to this transaction.

9.3. Research and develop a mechanism for community members to monitor, report, and follow-up on spending of their community.

Responsible institution: Central Government Authority responsible for Budget and Finance

Supporting institutions: All regulators of budget, Units implementing the project 'Citizens monitor budget' NGO Network, NGOs for Audit and Monitoring, MNB, Mongolian Journalism Association MNCCI

Start date: 30 June 2016

End date: 30 June 2018

Context and Objectives

The Mongolian Parliament passed the Law on Glass Accounts in July 2014, which entered into force in January 2015 and requires all government agencies and legal entities with state involvement to make budgetary information available to the public.[Note95: Law of Mongolia on Glass Accounts, available in Mongolian at: http://www.legalinfo.mn/law/details/10497, and in English at: http://www.iaac.mn/old/pdf/law_en/8_on_glass_accounts.pdf.] Article 6.4.4 requires government agencies to disclose publicly-funded procurement contracts above 5 million MNT (~USD $2,100) in order to comply with the law. However, government budgets in Mongolia remain opaque with little public oversight. Notably, in its 2017 Open Budget Survey, the International Budget Partnership found that Mongolia provides the public with limited budget information and few opportunities to engage in the budget process.[Note96: International Budget Partnership, Open Budget Survey 2017 for Mongolia, available at: https://www.internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/mongolia-open-budget-survey-2017-summary-english.pdf.]

This commitment seeks to make the online Glass Accounts system more open and responsive to the public. More specifically, the government plans to upload information on decisions and main agreements in addition to the transactions themselves, and to develop a mechanism for community members to monitor, report, and follow up on spending in their communities. In addition, the commitment plans to reduce the threshold for disclosing publicly-funded procurement contracts from 5 million to 1 million MNT. The commitment builds off Commitment 3.3.1.3 from the previous action plan, which created the integrated Glass Accounts system of the state budget. While Commitment 3.3.1.3 received a 'starred' rating in the IRM’s Progress Report, the IRM’s End of Term Report found that the government had still not disclosed social benefits for public servants, performance reports for government-funded projects, or non-budgetary income such as charities by the end of the first action plan period.[Note97: Independent Reporting Mechanism , Mongolia End of Term Report 2014-2016, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Mongolia_EOTR_2014-2016.pdf, pg. 13.]

The publication of additional information on contract agreements and the reduction of the reporting threshold from 5 million to 1 million MNT makes the commitment the commitment relevant to the OGP value of access to information. The commitment includes implementation activities that are mostly verifiable, such as the creation of the feedback mechanism and the inclusion of publically- funded transactions over 1 million MNT. However, it is not entirely clear what type of 'decisions' and 'main agreements' regarding the transactions will be uploaded to the online system.

Additionally, while the commitment calls for the development of a mechanism, to 'monitor, report, and follow up on' community spending, it does not provide accountability obligations for government agencies to respond to complaints or feedback received. Therefore, the specificity is marked as medium. Publishing additional information to the Glass Accounts system would be a much-needed improvement to budget transparency in Mongolia, while the creation of the feedback mechanism would give citizens greater oversight for the allocation of government funds, particularly at the local level. Lowering the limit of the reporting threshold is also important because many daily transactions for local government authorities are far below 5 million MNT, and there is mounting public suspicion that government agencies are 'dividing their expenses' to hide spending above 5 million MNT. However, the commitment’s activities (particularly the feedback mechanism envisaged in milestone 9.3) are worded vaguely, and therefore it is unclear how they will change business as usual regarding the current opaqueness in budgetary information in Mongolia. Therefore, the potential impact is marked as moderate.

Completion

To comply with the Law on Glass Accounts, government agencies publish their budgetary plans and performance reports to the Glass Account Portal http://www.shilendans.gov.mn (in operation since 2015). While government agencies continue to update their information on the Glass Account Portal on a monthly basis, the type of information available on the Portal has not changed since the previous action plan period. Additionally, the government has not developed an efficient mechanism for citizens to monitor, report, and follow up on the information available in the Portal, nor has the reporting threshold been lowered to MNT 1 million.

The IRM asked the Cabinet Secretariat to provide information on the mechanism for community members to minor and report on spending, the percentage of compliance with the Glass Account system among government agencies. However, the Cabinet Secretariat did not respond to this request. For more details, see Section IV: Methodology and Sources. Therefore, the implementation of this commitment is assessed as having not started at the end of the first year of the action plan period.

Next Steps

The IRM recommends carrying this commitment forward to the next action plan, but with greater clarity on which information on transactions will be published to the Glass Account Portal. The commitment should also provide greater detail on how the proposed feedback mechanism will function, such as the procedures for submission of questions on spending, complaints about the misuse of funds, and the obligations of government officials to respond to these public inquiries.


Commitments

  1. Mobile Application for Citizens Feedback and Requests

    MN0022, 2016, E-Government

  2. Starred commitment Improve Provision and Quality of Education and Health Services

    MN0023, 2016, E-Government

  3. Civic Engagement in Decision Making

    MN0024, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  4. Transparent Funding of Political Parties

    MN0025, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  5. Create Favourable Environment for Media and Journalism

    MN0026, 2016, Civic Space

  6. National Action Plan for Combating Corruption

    MN0027, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  7. Transparency of Loans and Aid from Foreign Countries

    MN0028, 2016, Aid

  8. Online Registration of VAT

    MN0029, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Improve Glass Account System

    MN0030, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  10. Make Government Procurement Process Transparent

    MN0031, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  11. Transparency of Contracts of Public Resource Exploiting

    MN0032, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  12. Information Transparency of the Owners of the Entities with Rights to Use Mineral Resources

    MN0033, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  13. Make Licenses, Information and Activities of the Companies Transparent and Effective by Government

    MN0034, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  14. Monitor and Ensure Implementation of Information Transparency and Information Access Right Act by Establishing National Information Transparency Committee and Creating Structure of Information Commissary.

    MN0001, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  15. Modernize Performance Indicators of Information Transparency of Public Organizations Into ―”Citizen Targeted” Ones.

    MN0002, 2014, Capacity Building

  16. Starred commitment Launch ―Transparent Account Systemǁ in Order to Enable Consistent, Transparent Reporting to the Public and to Provide Comprehensive Information on Budget Revenue Collection, Income and Expenditure Details, as Well as Public Procurement and Investments.

    MN0003, 2014, Fiscal Transparency

  17. Develop Central Information Database of Minerals, Oil, and Land Tenure License Owners, Open to the Public.

    MN0004, 2014, E-Government

  18. Ensure Transparency All Agreements on Investment, Stability and Production- Sharing of Public-Owned Resources Such as Water, Minerals, Oil and Land.

    MN0005, 2014, Extractive Industries

  19. Starred commitment Publish List of Mandatory Public Information on Environment Such as Information Regarding Any Action Harmful to Natural Environment and People’S Health.

    MN0006, 2014, Environment and Climate

  20. Starred commitment Disclose Information to the Public Relating to Foreign Loan Assistance Projects and Programs, Including the Total Amounts, Terms, Payback Duration and General Provisions Related to the Loan Rate, Board Members, and Implementation Bodies. Information About the Terms of Implementation of the Projects as Well as General Conditions of Contracts Between Suppliers and Buyers Shall Be Disclosed as Well.

    MN0007, 2014, Aid

  21. Disclose Budget Funded Procurement Contracts Above 80.0 Million MNT

    MN0008, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  22. Ensure Civic Engagement in Planning and Developing Public Services at Central and Local Levels by Introducing Communication Channels Such as Organizing e-Conferences, Public Hearings, and Open Meetings.

    MN0009, 2014, Public Participation

  23. Launch “Smart Government” Program, for Delivering e-Public Services to the People Regardless of Distance and Location Through the Public Service Portal.

    MN0010, 2014, E-Government

  24. Create a Single Access Public Service for Citizens Without Requiring Supplementary State Registered Data, Based on Principles of “One Citizen-One Public Servant”.

    MN0011, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  25. Improve and Develop Smart e-Service Capability for “One Window-Public Service” and Introduce It as a Standard Unit of Public Service.

    MN0012, 2014, E-Government

  26. Increase Number of “Public Service Online Machines” at Local Levels for Delivering Public Services to Individuals in Remote Areas, as Well as Increase the Content of Its Data.

    MN0013, 2014, E-Government

  27. Report Public Feedback on Government Performance Received from the Government’S “11-11” Center. Government Shall Also Establish a Data System That Responds to and Tracks Petitions and Enquiries.

    MN0014, 2014, Public Participation

  28. Develop and Publish E-Mapping of Crime Occurrence.

    MN0015, 2014, E-Government

  29. Create a United Information Database on Law Enforcement Activities, Crimes and Violation Records, and Ensure That the Database Is Accessible to Relevant Bodies.

    MN0016, 2014, E-Government

  30. Introduce a System of Random Disclosure to the Public of Asset and Financial Statements of Any Public Servants.

    MN0017, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  31. Publish the Asset and Financial Statements of Officials Who Work in Organizations with a High Likelihood of Corruption Index on Websites and Ensure Citizen Monitoring.

    MN0018, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  32. Create Regulation That Repeals Decisions Made Without Due Participation of Citizens and Contradict Public Interests, as Well as Hold the Officials at Fault Accountable.

    MN0019, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  33. Deliver the Draft Laws, Acts, Amendments and Administrative Rules to Public Attention in Due Time. in Particular, Create an Opportunity for People to Access Such Information from “Public Service Online Machines”, Citizens Chambers, and the Public Libraries at Each Provincial Level.

    MN0020, 2014, Capacity Building

  34. Strengthen the Capacity of Citizens by Implementing Certain Projects to Enhance Legal Knowledge of Target Groups Using Simple Language.

    MN0021, 2014, Capacity Building