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North Macedonia

Improving the Financial and Human Resources of the Commission (Ministry of Finance, the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information and the Ministry of Information Society and Administration) (MK0059)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Macedonia, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Commission for the Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information

Support Institution(s): All information holders; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Information Society and Administration

Policy Areas

Capacity Building

IRM Review

IRM Report: Macedonia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Macedonia Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: No

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Improving the financial and human resources of the Commission (Ministry of Finance, the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information and the Ministry of Information Society and Administration)

IRM End of Term Status Summary

VII. FOI: Human, Operational and Financial Resources

Commitment 2.7: Trainings on Use of Data

Commitment Text: 2.7. Trainings for implementation of the Law on Use of Data from the Public Sector.

Commitment 3.2: FOI Trainings

Commitment Text: 3.2. 3.2. Educating officers and officials at the information holders.

Commitment 3.3: Commission Website

Commitment Text: 3.3. Making a new web site of the Commission.

Commitment 3.6: Commission Resources 

Commitment Text: 3.6. Improving the financial and human resources of the Commission.

Responsible institution(s): Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information

Supporting institution(s): All information holders, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information Society and Administration (MISA)

Start Date: 1/4/2014   End Date: 31/12/2016

Commitment aim

These commitments sought to strengthen the human, financial, and technical resources supporting the implementation of the legal framework for access to information and release of open data.

Status

Midterm

Commitment 2.7: Complete

Commitment 3.2: Substantial

Commitment 3.3: Complete

Commitment 3.6: Limited

Commitments 2.7 and 3.3 were completed at the midterm. A new website for the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information was established, and the Ministry of Information, Society, and Administration (MISA) conducted trainings on the new obligations from the improved legal framework. Commitment 3.2 was assessed as substantially completed, owing to trainings conducted for local administration and judicial officials. Commitment 3.6, improving Commission resources, was the only one in the cluster that had limited progress. The Commission remained underfunded and understaffed, and its budget decreased gradually each year.[Note 54: Commission for FOI, Annual Reports 2010-2015.]

For more information, please see the 2014-2016 IRM midterm report.

End of term

Commitment 2.7: Complete

Commitment 3.2: Complete

Commitment 3.3: Complete

Commitment 3.6: Limited

The government’s self-assessment did not state any additional progress on the commitments. However, a review of the Commission’s website and media reports showed that six additional trainings for 70 mostly newly-appointed officials were organised by the Commission.[Note 55: http://komspi.mk/en/.] The officials came from a variety of institutions, such as local authorities, state institutions, public companies, academia, the judiciary, and health and education institutions, all of which expanded the scope of the trainings. Considering that the Commission continues to organise and conduct trainings even beyond the end of the term, this commitment (3.2) is considered complete.

Commitment 3.6 had limited progress, since the government did not allocate additional resources, and the Commission remained underfunded. The government reported that there was an increase in the overall budget, due to the transfer of four staff members from other state authorities to the Commission. However, the Commission ended its 2015 financial year with a debt of approximately USD28,500, mostly for utility bills.[Note 56: Commission for FOI, Annual Reports for 2015, (Skopje:FOI Commission), 38 [available at: http://bit.ly/2c0Z88R in Macedonian].] This debt is an increase of 8% compared to that in 2014. Moreover, the unrestricted funds for the Commission remain extremely limited, thus hampering its work.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

In the last decade, the Commission has been a cornerstone institution guaranteeing the right to free access to information.[Note 57: Dance Danilovska-Bajdevska, Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information in Macedonia, master thesis, 2016.] Since its establishment, however, it has lacked the necessary human and financial resources to implement its obligations. In that sense, the commitments that address this issue fill an important gap.

Despite significant completion, the commitments only marginally improved access to information, due to the unambitious nature of the measures. There is increased information about the work of the Commission, due to its events and media coverage. The IRM researcher also noted an increase in the number of complaints submitted to the Commission by citizens,[Note 58: 356 from a total of 960 complaints in 2015 were submitted by citizens, compared to 136 from a total of 849 in 2015. Commission for FOI, Annual Reports for 2015, 6.] which may suggest that citizens are more informed and see the Commission as a useful legal remedy for protecting their rights. While it is possible that some of the effects of the other commitments could potentially lead to greater openness over time, the IRM researcher could not assess whether greater compliance and respect for the right to access information were achieved because of these commitments.

Carried forward?

The third national action plan contains a commitment on access to information, with several milestones, one of which is the training of public officials (3.2). The other measures in this cluster were not carried over to the new action plan. Some of the new milestones build on IRM recommendations in the midterm review, and are potentially more ambitious. They include the proactive disclosure of information, and the publication of requested information online.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership