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Romania

Standardization of Transparency Practices in the Decision-Making Procedures (RO0034)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Romania Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: NA

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Legislation & Regulation, Public Participation, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: Romania Mid-Term Report 2016-2018, Romania End-of-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Status quo or problem addressed by the commitment Transparency of the decision-making process in public administration is regulated by Law no.52/2006, one of the most modern laws in the field. However, the act is not put to the best use for the potential to implement democratic, participatory, sustainable, efficient and representative decision-making processes. As current practices still reveal lacks in the activity of public authorities to ensure a representative / participatory decision-making process, following an extensive research on the implementation of legal provisions, the Ministry has developed a Guide for the experts in the public system that, through their work, create a link between citizens and government. In this respect, MCPDC has set up an inter-ministerial working group with representatives of central authorities. Its sessions led to the conclusion that an amendment of the law is not needed. However, it is necessary that: - there is a uniform interpretation of the law in public consultation processes; - the practice should be extended to the good practices recommendations. Main objective Public integrity; Legislative and normative coherence; Accountability of public authorities Brief description of commitment MCPDC will first identify all the deficiencies existing in the implementation of Law no.52/2003, drafting instruments to standardize practices in this field and increase the importance of civil society engagement in the decisionmaking process. OPG challenge addressed by the commitment Increase public sector integrity Efficient management of public resources Relevance The commitment is directly related to the civic participation of citizens to the decision-making process. Ambition Setting standards for the organisation of the public consultation process and for the organisation of public debates. The creation of an organisational culture of civil society consultations.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

5. Standardization of transparency practices in the decision-making procedures

Commitment Text:

Transparency of the decision-making process in public administration is regulated by Law 52/2003, one of the most modern laws in the field. However, the act is not put to the best use for the potential to implement democratic, participatory, sustainable, efficient and representative decision-making processes. As current practices still reveal lacks in the activity of public authorities to ensure a representative /participatory decision-making process, following an extensive research on the implementation of legal provisions, the Ministry has developed a Guide for the experts in the public system that, through their work, create a link between citizens and government. In this respect, MCPDC has set up an inter-ministerial working group with representatives of central authorities. Its sessions led to the conclusion that an amendment of the law is not needed. However, it is necessary that there is a uniform interpretation of the law in public consultation processes; and that the practice should be extended to the good practices recommendations. MCPDC will first identify all the deficiencies existing in the implementation of Law no.52/2003,drafting instruments to standardize practices in this field and increase the importance of civil society engagement in the decision-making process.

Main Objective:

Public integrity; Legislative and normative coherence; Accountability of public authorities.

Milestones:

  • Identify deficiencies in public consultation processes at public authorities level
  • Drafting support documents for the standardization of practices in the implementation of legislation on the public consultation process
  • Organize training sessions, based on the support documents, with the public servants in charge with the public consultation process
  • Provide technical assistance to central institutions in public consultation practices

Responsible Institution(s): Ministry for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue (MCPDC)

Supporting Institution(s): Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration and European Funds (MDRAPEF); Ministry of Justice; Academia de Advocacy; NGOs: Asociația Impreuna pentru Dezvoltarea Comunitatii – AIDC, CMPP – Centrul pentru Monitorizarea Politicilor Publice, Federatia Organizatiilor Ne-guvernamentale pentru Servicii Sociale (FONSS), Fundatia pentru Dezvoltarea Societatii Civile, Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy, Associations of public servants

Start date: August 2016                                                                     End date: June 2018

Editorial Note: The commitment text is abridged. The full text can be found in the OGP 2016–2018 national action plan.

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to improve the implementation of law 52/2003, which requires (1) all government institutions initiating a normative act to publish a draft law proposal for public comment at least 30 days before adoption; and (2) public institutions to organize a public debate if one is formally requested by a legally established organization. [42] This commitment planned to identify the reasons why the law is insufficiently and unevenly applied across the institutions who initiate normative acts (Milestone 1), to make recommendations to address these insufficiencies (Milestone 2), to train the relevant public servants in their application of the law (Milestone 3), and to support public institutions obliged by the law to proactively comply (Milestone 4).

STATUS

Midterm: Substantial

This commitment was substantially completed at the time of the 2016–2017 IRM progress report. Civil society was consulted in a limited way in the identification of the deficiencies with respect to the application of the law. In June 2016, the MCPDC and MDRAPEF published and disseminated to local public authorities the guide titled Efficient Public Consultation in the Central and Local Administrationfor the implementation of Law no.52/2003 addressing the identified deficiencies. [43] According to the government’s 2018 self-assessment report, only one training session was organized by the MPCDC in November 2017 for representatives of all ministries charged with enforcing the law. Finally, the 2016–2017 IRM progress report found limited evidence to support the provision of technical assistance to central institutions in public consultation practices, for example, to the Ministry of Tourism on the public consultation of the 2017 Tourism Law. [44]

End-of-term: Substantial

The IRM researcher was unable to assess the completion of Milestone 4: the provision of technical assistance to central institutions in public consultation practices. The Secretariat General of the Government (SGG) holds no statistics hereof, [45] and the government’s 2018 self-assessment report lists it as an ongoing activity. The commitment therefore cannot be considered complete.

Did it Open Government?

Civic participation: Marginal

Public deficiencies in public consultation processes were identified and addressed through the publication of the Efficient Public Consultation in the Central and Local Administrationfor the implementation of Law 52/2003 guide, and through the organization of training sessions on the basis of the guide, for public servants charged with the public consultation process. Nevertheless, several interviewees stated that more needs to be done, for example, create norms of application for law 52/2003, [46] unify the definition of a “normative act” under law 52/2003, [47] include additional discussions and debates in Parliament and opinions expressed by the government and by other key stakeholders in the public domain, [48] and further train public servants to help them internalize the practice of organizing public consultations [49] and of the benefits thereof. [50] Moreover, as expressed in the IRM progress report, this commitment fails to address the increasing use of Emergency Ordinances by the Executive, which constitutes a dangerous development for participatory decision-making and for open government. All these observations add up to this milestone just marginally increasing civic participation.

Carried forward?

The commitment will be continued as Commitment 1: Standardization of practices on public consultation processesof the 2018–2020 national action plan.

[42] The text of law 52/2003 on decisional transparency in public administration is available [in Romanian] at https://goo.gl/m3Qwqe.

[43]  “Efficient Public Consultation in the Central and Local Administration – for the implementation of Law no.52/2003”, Ministry for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, 2016, available [in Romanian] at https://goo.gl/ZcMFM7.

[44] “Legea Turismului in Dezbatere Publica Regionala”, MCPDS, 2017 available [in Romanian] at https://goo.gl/spRxWG.

[45] Madalina Mitroi, SGG, interview by IRM researcher on 6 November 2018. According to her, the SGG created a list of public servants responsible with the implementation of the laws 544/2001 and 52/2003 to facilitate the provision of technical support.

[46] Madalina Mitroi, SGG, interview by IRM researcher on 6 November 2018 and Octavian Rusu, IssueMonitoring, interview by IRM researcher on 12 November 2018.

[47] Marian Damoc, Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018. He suggested that without a standardization of what constitutes a normative act, it is too easy to arbitrarily apply the law. While interpretation discrepancies can be uncovered by the civil society, his research shows that they are large enough among counties (e.g. among Bacau and Oradea) to require a coercive exercise from the central public administration. His research has been shared with the MCDPC and the MRDPA. (see “M-am decis sa ma implic”, Campaniile Coaliției 52, Conștientizare, Monitorizare, Consolidare, Influențare, Academia de Advocacy, 2015).

[48] Octavian Rusu, IssueMonitoring, interview by IRM researcher on 12 November 2018. He suggested the model of IssueMonitoring.ro a paid service that enhances the transparency of all policy relevant actions not only the normative acts but also other highly relevant policy decisions, e.g. debates in Parliament and reactions on the public domain that different stakeholders express.

[49] Bogdan Manolea, APTI, on 8 November 2018.He gives examples of public institutions that were models of best practice long before this commitment, because their institutional culture required them to be open—e.g. ANCOM: The National Authority Regulating Communications.

[50] Marian Damoc, Romanian Youth Movement for Democracy, interview by IRM researcher on 8 November 2018.


Commitments

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