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Romania

National Investment Fund Transparency (RO0057)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Romania Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MDRAP)

Support Institution(s): Expert Forum (EFOR)

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Legislature, Open Data, Participation in Lawmaking, Public Participation, Public Procurement, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Pending IRM Review

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Improving transparency in allocations and acquisitions from national investment funds
2018-2020
Lead implementing agency/actor Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MDRAP) Other actors involved State actors CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups Expert Forum (EFOR) What is the public problem that the commitment will address? At present, there is limited data on how the funds are allocated, on public procurements and implementation of projects made through the National Program for Local Development (PNDL). In this context, the real impact and effectiveness of the program are difficult to quantify. Commitment description What is the commitment? The commitment is to increase transparency on the allocation and public procurement of the National Program for Local Development, as well as to increase the number of indicators and databases published in open format. How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? - Identify a larger number of databases related to these funds; - Generate public debate on the transparency, efficiency and evaluation of the program; - Publish the data on the data.gov.ro portal and on the MRDPA website. Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? Increase the transparency of public funds allocated and invested through the PNDL Milestone activity with a verifiable deliverable Responsible agency / partner Start Date: End Date: Identification of data sets that can be put together based on legal regulations and the information produced in the procedures for the awarding, contracting, MDRAP / EFOR 2018 2018 24 implementation and evaluation of investments Organize a public debate on data sets and related procedures, including necessary legislative changes MDRAP / EFOR 2018 2019 Define procedures and publish data sets MDRAP 2019 July 2019 Updating the data sets MDRAP 2019 2020 Additional information Correlation with other government programs/strategies National Anti-Corruption Strategy - Specific objective 1.2 Increase the transparency of public resource management processes

IRM Midterm Status Summary

10. Improving transparency in allocations and acquisitions from national investment funds

Commitment Text: "The commitment is to increase transparency on the allocation and public procurement of the National Program for Local Development, as well as to increase the number of indicators and databases published in open format."

Milestones:

    • Identification of data sets that can be put together based on legal regulations and the information produced in the procedures for the awarding, contracting, implementation and evaluation of investments
    • Organize a public debate on data sets and related procedures, including necessary legislative changes
    • Define procedures and publish data sets
    • Updating the data sets

Start Date: 2018 ...............................................

End Date: 2020

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

Context and Objectives

The National Program for Local Development (PNDL) 2017-2020 is the main financing source for local infrastructure in Romania, and has dedicated 30 billion RON (6.3 billion euros) to fund 9,500 local projects. [95] There are limited data on how the funds are allocated or projects implemented, and investigative journalists have found that several large projects implemented under PNDL were severely overpriced and of low quality, [96] sparking a criminal investigation into their potential use as a source for large kickbacks for high ranking members of the clergy and of the ruling political party. [97] Expert Forum has also published several reports [98] that suggest national investment funds falling under the PNDL are politically spent. An interviewed Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MDRAP) representative argued instead that when a large fraction of local public administrations belongs to a certain party, that party will receive a proportionally large part of the investment funds. Simply looking at the amounts of funds spent per political party gives a false impression of political clientelism. [99] Increasing the transparency of the allocations of national investment funds and of corresponding public procurement contracts is therefore crucial to assess, beyond doubt, the effectiveness of this 6.3 billion euro program.

This commitment aims to identify and open more databases related to the national investment funds than what MDRAP currently publishes, and organize a public consultation or debate on the transparency, efficiency, and evaluation of the PNDL. These goals are relevant to the OGP values of access to information and civic participation. This commitment’s activities are specific enough to be verified, however the specific datasets that will be made available are not given.

The potential impact of this commitment largely depends on the datasets it will make available and the level of civil society input involved during the consultation. According to a representative from civil society, the potential impact of the consultation is difficult to assess, as it is a complex technical discussion that does not usually attract many civil society organizations. [100]

In terms of datasets, before the commitment, MDRAP published and updated the following:

  • the broad procedures for the allocation of funds, [101] as mandated by HG 624/2016;
  • the list of investments per local public administration that have been allocated funds—e.g., name of local public administration, title of investment, total funds allocated; [102]
  • the list of contact persons (with contact details) responsible for the allocation of national funds allocations at county level; [103]
  • summary statistics of the PNDL investments;
  • a list of aggregate monthly transfers made, in accordance with ordinance (OUG) 28/2013, each month to the local public administrations. [104]

As part of this commitment, MDRAP will first analyze which datasets can be legally opened, in accordance to its own mandate. According to the MDRAP representative, a formal discussion between Expert Forum and MDRAP is necessary to distill which of the new datasets are relevant to civil society. [105] MDRAP does not publish the following information, which the Expert Forum representative suggested would be of interest: [106]

  • The selection methodology for projects put forward by the local public administration. MDRAP does not publish the markers and the weights thereof that are used to select among competing projects.
  • The list of local public administrations that applied for funding under PNDL but were not granted it. Transparency would help civil society monitor the allocation of funds to prevent political clientelism. MDRAP only publishes the list of local public administration that have been allocated funds.
  • The official justification note that local public administrations put forward in order to receive the funds. Transparency would reveal how well the local public administration reflects the needs of the local community in requesting funding. According to the MDRAP representative, this can be retrieved together with other explanatory documents by sending a freedom of information (FOIA) request to the local public administration, [107] but according to the Expert Forum representative, the waiting times and the response rates make the FOIA requests to the local administration endeavor too difficult. [108]
  • A list of public procurements that local administrations have made, based on the national investment funds (as mentioned in the annexes of OUG 28/2012). Transparency would reveal the quality of the competition for the execution of public works as well as the real absorption rate for the PNDL funds. According to the MDRAP representative, MDRAP does not oversee public procurements that local public administration organizes, and cannot publish data related to these procurements. [109] According to the Expert Forum representative, this data can be collected through FOIA requests, but at great costs of time and effort. [110]

Because of the lack of details on the specific datasets to be published, this commitment could have a moderate potential impact, if implemented as written. However, should the MDRAP make significant progress on the above list or the following recommendations, this commitment could significantly improve access to information on the implementation of PNDL.

Next steps

The IRM researcher recommends carrying this commitment forward to future action plans, considering the size and scope of these investment funds, their importance for the sustainable development of local communities, and numerous controversies that have been brought to light in relation to their allocation. The following recommendations can help guide the implementation of this commitment in the current, as well as in future, action plans:

  • MDRAP could publish the reasons why certain datasets can or cannot be opened. This data review exercise will reveal the opportunities and the impediments and will help focus the public consultation sessions on how to practically open the data.
  • MDRAP could utilize the public consultations to: (1) understand what information citizens consider relevant and would like to have open, and (2) understand why this information cannot be obtained from other sources or at which costs it could be obtained from different sources. MDRAP could then publish the feedback it receives.
  • MDRAP could publish as many of the items in the list recommended by the Expert Forum as are in its remit to release, especially the selection methodology for projects and the list of local public administrations that applied but were not granted funding.
  • MDRAP could also publish the official justification notes that local public administrations put forward in order to receive funding, for both those that were granted as well as for those that were not granted funding.

[95] MDRAP (19 July 2017) "Programul National de Dezvoltare Locala - PNDL, etapa a II-a", available [in Romanian] at https://bit.ly/2u9ksF2.

[96] Nedea, A. & Muntean, D. (2019) "Dumnezeul Achizitiilor", Recorder, available at https://bit.ly/2DSyChj.

[97] Nedea, A. (2019) "Efectul investigației Recorder: DNA s-a autosesizat și a deschis dosarul „Dumnezeul achizițiilor", Recorder, available at https://bit.ly/2SLe8Qq.

[98] Ionita, S., Stefan, L., Nutu, O. & Parvu, S. (2016) "Prioritati politice in Romania, prioritati politice in Moldova", Expert Forum annual report, available [in Romanian] at https://bit.ly/2JnTfEW; "Banii și achizițiile: unde au ajuns contractele din PNDL în județul Constanța?", Expert Forum, 9 December 2019, available [in Romanian] at https://bit.ly/2KZWshn.

[99] Interview with Andreea Grigore, Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MDRAP), 19 April 2019.

[100] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019.

[101] MDRAP (19 July 2017), "Programul National de Dezvoltare Locala - PNDL etapa a II-a", slides 9-12, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2k75pt8.

[102] "Lista Obiectivelor de Investitii si sumele alocate acestora pentru finantarea Programului National de Dezvoltare Locala", MDRAP, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2krGEs1.

[103] "Lista responsabililor judete PNDL", MDRAP, available at http://bit.ly/2lQEjqD.

[104] "Plati activitate curenta, plati programe europene", MDRAP, available [in Romanian] at http://bit.ly/2mcTMBT.

[105] Interview with Andreea Grigore, MDRAP, 19 April 2019.

[106] Interview with Andreea Grigore, MDRAP, 19 April 2019.

[107] 13 Ibid.

[108] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019.

[109] Interview with Andreea Grigore, MDRAP, 19 April 2019.

[110] Interview with Septimiu Parvu, Expert Forum, 23 April 2019.


Commitments

  1. Standardize Public Consultation Practices

    RO0048, 2018, E-Government

  2. Open Local Government

    RO0049, 2018, Capacity Building

  3. Citizen Budgets

    RO0050, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Youth Participation

    RO0051, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Register of Civil Society Proposals

    RO0052, 2018, E-Government

  6. Access to Information – Local

    RO0053, 2018, Capacity Building

  7. Online Business Sector Information

    RO0054, 2018, Capacity Building

  8. Digital Consular Services

    RO0055, 2018, Capacity Building

  9. Transparency in the Funding of Political Parties

    RO0056, 2018, Access to Information

  10. National Investment Fund Transparency

    RO0057, 2018, Access to Information

  11. Civil Servant Training

    RO0058, 2018, Capacity Building

  12. Raise Awareness About Corruption

    RO0059, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. Transparency of Seized Assets

    RO0060, 2018, Access to Information

  14. Access to Social Services

    RO0061, 2018, E-Government

  15. Open Access to Research

    RO0062, 2018, Access to Information

  16. Open Education

    RO0063, 2018, Access to Information

  17. Evaluate Open Data

    RO0064, 2018, Access to Information

  18. Open Data

    RO0065, 2018, Access to Information

  19. Improving the Legal Framework and Practices Regarding Access to Public Interest Information

    RO0030, 2016, Access to Information

  20. Centralized Publishing of Public Interest Information on the Single Gateway Transparenta.Gov.Ro

    RO0031, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Promoting Open Parliament Principles

    RO0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Starred commitment Improved Management of the Applications Submitted for Granting Citizenship

    RO0033, 2016, Capacity Building

  23. Standardization of Transparency Practices in the Decision-Making Procedures

    RO0034, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Centralised Publication of Legislative Projects on the Single Gateway Consultare.Gov.Ro

    RO0035, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Citizens Budgets

    RO0036, 2016, Capacity Building

  26. Improve Youth Consultation and Public Participation

    RO0037, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Subnational Open Government

    RO0038, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Promoting Transparency in the Decision-Making Process By Setting Up a Transparency Register (RUTI)

    RO0039, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  29. Access to Performance Indicators Monitored in the Implementation of the National Anticorruption Strategy (SNA)

    RO0040, 2016, Access to Information

  30. Improve Transparency in the Management of Seized Assets

    RO0041, 2016, Access to Information

  31. Annual Mandatory Training of Civil Servants on Integrity Matters

    RO0042, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  32. Improving Access to Cultural Heritage

    RO0043, 2016, Capacity Building

  33. Open Data and Transparency in Education

    RO0044, 2016, Access to Information

  34. Virtual School Library and Open Educational Resources

    RO0045, 2016, Capacity Building

  35. Open Contracting

    RO0046, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  36. Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Published Open Data

    RO0047, 2016, Access to Information

  37. Publishing the Public Interest Information on a Single Government Portal: Transparenta.Gov.Ro

    RO0019, 2014, Access to Information

  38. Making an Inventory of the Datasets Produced by the Ministries and Subordinate Agencies

    RO0020, 2014, Access to Information

  39. Starred commitment Ensuring the Free Online Access to National Legislation

    RO0021, 2014, E-Government

  40. Amending Law 109/2007 on the Re-Use of Public Sector Information

    RO0022, 2014, Access to Information

  41. Opening Data Collected from the National Health System

    RO0023, 2014, Access to Information

  42. Opening Data Collected from the Monitoring of Preventive Measures as Part of the National Anticorruption Strategy 2012-2015

    RO0024, 2014, Access to Information

  43. Open Contracting

    RO0025, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  44. Opening up Data Resulted from Publicly-Funded Research Projects

    RO0026, 2014, E-Government

  45. Increasing the Quality and Quantity of Published Open Data

    RO0027, 2014, Access to Information

  46. Human Resource Training in the Field of Open Data

    RO0028, 2014, Access to Information

  47. Disseminating Information on the OGP Principles and Promoting the Open Data Concept in an Accessible Manner

    RO0029, 2014,

  48. Designating a Person Responsible for Publishing Open Data in Each Public Institution

    RO0001, 2012, Access to Information

  49. Identifying Regulatory Needs, Logistical and Technical Solutions

    RO0002, 2012, Access to Information

  50. Making an Inventory of Available (High-Value) Data-Sets

    RO0003, 2012, Access to Information

  51. Priority Publishing on the Web Pages of Public Institutions of Specific Data-Sets

    RO0004, 2012, Access to Information

  52. Initiating Pilot-Projects, in Partnerships

    RO0005, 2012, Access to Information

  53. Organizing Public Debates on the Utility of Open Data, in Partnerships

    RO0006, 2012, Access to Information

  54. Uniform, Machine-Readable Publishing Format for Open Data

    RO0007, 2012, Access to Information

  55. Procedures for Publication of Data-Sets Based on Civil Society Recommendations

    RO0008, 2012, Access to Information

  56. Procedures for Citizen Complaints Pertaining to Open Data

    RO0009, 2012, Access to Information

  57. Consultation Mechanism Between Suppliers and Beneficiaries of Open Data

    RO0010, 2012, Access to Information

  58. Creating a Rating System for the Assessment of High-Value Data-Sets

    RO0011, 2012, Access to Information

  59. Routinely Publishing Specific Data-Sets on Web Pages of Public Institutions

    RO0012, 2012, Access to Information

  60. Integrating Open Data from Public Institutions in a Single National Platform

    RO0013, 2012, Access to Information

  61. Inventories of Data, in Order to Facilitate Public Access

    RO0014, 2012, Access to Information

  62. Institute a Monitoring Mechanism of Compliance for Open Data

    RO0015, 2012, Access to Information

  63. Stimulating the Market for Innovative Use of Open Data

    RO0016, 2012, Access to Information

  64. Routinely Publishing Data-Sets on the National Platform, 25% High-Value

    RO0017, 2012, Access to Information

  65. The Public Procurement Electronic System (SEAP). the Electronic Allocation System for Transports (SAET)/B.1 C) Expanding the On-Line Submission of Fiscal Forms. Ensuring the Free On-Line Access to National Legislation. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage Subpoenas and Facilitate Access Toinformation Regarding Legal Proceedings. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage the Procedures Related to Obtaining the Romanian Citizenship. Developing Electronic Tools to Manage the Procedures Related to the Creation of Non-Profit Legal Persons. the Integrated System for Electronic Access to Justice (SIIAEJ)

    RO0018, 2012, Access to Justice

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