Skip Navigation
Serbia

Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance (RS0009)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia First Action Plan 2014-2015

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry in charge of e-government, Ministry in charge of public administration

Support Institution(s): Civil Society Organizations

Policy Areas

E-Government, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

In the field of transparency, the Republic of Serbia has done a lot in recent years, and its competent state administration authorities continuously monitor the situation and make efforts to implement the principle of transparency in all aspects of public administration. Currently, this area is regulated by the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance. Application of the Law led to the conclusion that it is neccessary to improve certain parts of the Law, in order to overcome the obstacles to application and ensure greater transparency in the work of public authorities and better realization and protection of citizens' rights through better access to updated information on websites of public authorities and ensuring forced execution of the final, enforcable, and binding decisions of of the Commissioner. In this regard, the Government has adopted the improved Guidelines for website design of the state administration authorities and local self-governments.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 9. Public administration website harmonization and amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

Commitment Text:

      1. Harmonization of public administration authorities', and local self-government units' websites, according to the Guidance for website design:

                a. Expand the scope of assessment of harmonization according to Guidance to local self-government units

                b. Annual report on website harmonization that should be adopted by the Government

      2. Improve the provisions of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance so to determine the obligation of public authorities to develop and maintain a website with all the information about the work of the Authority in accordance with applicable regulations, to establish the obligation of public authorities to submit draft legislation to the Commissioner for opinion, and to authorize the Commissioner to file misdemeanor charges for violation of the right of access to information.

            a. Preparation of Draft Law on amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance;

            b. Determination and publishing of Public Hearing Program;

            c. Conducting public debate;

            d. Submitting Draft Law to the Government for consideration and formulation of the Bill

Responsible Institution(s): Ministry of E-Government; Ministry of Public Administration

Supporting Institution(s): CSOs

Start Date: Quarter IV 2014                                          End Date: Quarter IV 2015

 

 

Commitment aim:

The level of information provided on LSU websites varies to a great extent. This commitment aims to increase the level of transparency of public authorities as well as to enhance and to enforce access to information on the authorities’ websites. Additionally, the commitment intends to tackle compliance issues. In the context of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance, this is an issue that impedes the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection’s efficacy and success in enforcing the right to free access to information.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The harmonization of public administration authorities' and LSUs' websites was substantially completed. The scope of assessments was expanded and the annual report on website harmonization was adopted, although outside the scope of the midterm report. However, the improvements set out in the draft amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance were not started, despite the fact that three of the four activities should have been completed before the midterm period, according to the action plan timeline. For more information, see the 2014-2015 Serbian midterm IRM report.

End of term: Substantial

The expansion of the scope of assessment of harmonization of websites, according to the Guidelines for the Development of Websites for Public Administration Bodies and Local Self-Government Units (“Guidance”), was completed in the first year of implementation. The annual report was adopted in July 2015.[Note 40: The adopting document was previously available here: http://www.digitalnaagenda.gov.rs/media/docs/Zakljucak_Vlade_Izvestaj_o_ocenjivanju_za_2014.pdf ] Therefore, expanding the scope of harmonization was completed within the timeline in the action plan. At the same time, limited progress was made on the draft amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information. Although a working group for drafting the amendments was formed on 31 March 2015, no other activities in the commitment were completed. Overall, the level of completion of this commitment remains substantial, but not completed.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Civic participation: Did not change

On one hand, the completion of the process of harmonization would have had a moderate effect on increasing the level of transparency of public authorities’ work. On the other hand, the amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information could have had a transformative effect on raising the level of transparency. Nonetheless, both civil society and expert opinions received through interviews and consultations with the IRM researchers revealed that progress has been made in terms of the amount and quality of information. For example, information on current activities implemented by an institution was available on government websites, as well as up-to-date publishing. Only a minority of institutions followed the Guidance to a substantial degree vis-à-vis their websites. The government's assessments are comparable to the statements of civil society and experts. For example, a recent government report outlines the areas in which local self-government websites need to be improved.[Note 41: Ljiljana Mihajlović and Ivan Branisavljević, “Podrška Unapređenju EUsluga na Lokalnom Nivou u Republici Srbiji,” Republic of Serbia, April 2016, http://bit.ly/2g7rnor ]

The overall opinion from interviews and consultations is that accessibility and ease of use need to be improved. This is because of the extensive amount of information that government institutions have to publish. Nevertheless, as an ICT expert who previously worked for the government noted, civil servants do not have enough skills and knowledge to organize it in a user-friendly manner.[Note 42: Ivan Branisavljević, consultation with the IRM researchers, October 2016, Belgrade.] Because none of the activities within the process of drafting the amendments to the law were implemented, the harmonization has had only a marginal effect on access to information.

Civic participation was not affected by the commitment progress made up to June 2016. More precisely, given that the public debate is late, the commitment might affect public participation, depending on how and whether the inputs of the public are taken into account.

Carried forward?

Serbia’s 2016-2018 action plan contains a commitment for amending the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance (Commitment 7), as well as a commitment on improving the guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of government websites (Commitment 9).


Serbia's Commitments

  1. Develop a Model of Job Description or Part of Job Description of an Officer Responsible for Cooperation with Civil Society in Local Administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  2. Organise Trainings for Public Administration Officers in Connection with the Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Organise Trainings for CSO in Connection with Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  4. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  5. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  6. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  8. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  11. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  13. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  14. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  15. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  16. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  18. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  19. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  20. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  21. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  22. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  23. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  24. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  25. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  26. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  27. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls