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Serbia

opening data for public calls for media development (RS0031)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Serbia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Office for Information Technologies and e-Government

Support Institution(s): CSOs that are members of the OGP Working Group

Policy Areas

E-Government, Open Contracting and Procurement, Open Data

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Opening of data from public calls for financing the work of associations and
co-financing of development of the media content of public interest
Q4 2018 - Q1 2019
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government
Office for Information Technologies and e-Government
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
Public data on the funding of projects in the public, business and civil
sectors have garnered much interest from the public. It is estimated that
almost RSD 17 billion was spent in 2016 from the budget line 481 for
financing of projects alone, while RSD 2 billion was spent on cofinancing of projects for development of the media content of public
interest.
These data are available on the basis of the Law on Free Access to
Information of Public Importance. However, the procedure of
accessing information is time-consuming and data are not machinereadable. Data on projects financed by citizens’ money must be
published in an open format so they could be easily accessible and
comparable. Adoption of the Law on e-Government and the planned
Regulation on Detailed Requirements for Development and
Maintenance of Official Websites of Authorities is an excellent
opportunity to introduce the duty to publish data from public calls for
financing projects for achievement of the public interest implemented
21
by associations and public calls for financing of projects for cofinancing of development of the media content of public interest in a
machine-readable form.
Main objective Publishing of data from public calls for financing projects for
achievement of the public interest implemented by associations and
public calls for financing of projects for co-financing of development
of the media content of public interest in a machine-readable form.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem
solving?
Introduction of the duty to publish public data on projects financed
(fully or partially) by public authorities in an open format on their
official websites and on the Open Data Portal ensures almost full
transparency in this field. When these data are published in an open
format, it will no longer be necessary to submit requests to access
information of public importance, which will facilitate the work of
public authorities and the Commissioner for Information of Public
Importance and Personal Data Protection. In addition, open data on
projects financed by public money will ensure easier analysis and reuse
of public data which may provide additional value for state institutions
and the business and civil sectors.
The way in which this
commitment is relevant to
further advancing OGP
values
Introduction of this commitment will contribute to improvement of
transparency of public authorities, and the expected result is
achievement of almost full transparency of public data held by public
authorities on the funding of projects implemented by associations and
projects for the development of the media content. This will also
increase accountability of public authorities and the quality of projects
which pursue public interests.
Additional information
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion
date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Adoption of the
Regulation on the Content
of Websites of Public
Authorities, which
introduces the duty to
publish public data on
financed projects in an open
data form
Q4 2018 Q4 2018
2. Preparation of a guide Q1 2019 Q1 2019
22
Contact information
Name of a responsible person in the
implementing agency
Natalija Pavlović Šiniković
Mihailo Jovanović
Title, Department Assistant Minister, MPALSG, Sector for
Development of Good Governance
Director, Office for Information Technologies and
e-Government
Email and phone number natalija.pavlovic@mduls.gov.rs
mihailo.jovanovic@ite.gov.rs
Other actors involved
Administration
Civil sector
organisations,
private sector,
working groups
CSOs that are members of the OGP Working
Group

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Opening data from public calls for financing work of associations and media development

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

Title: Opening of data from public calls for financing the work of associations and co-financing of development of the media content of public interest

Publishing of data from public calls for financing projects for achievement of the public interest implemented by associations and public calls for financing of projects for co-financing of development of the media content of public interest in a machine-readable form.

Start Date: Q4 2018

End Date: Q1 2019

Context and Objectives

The Law on Public Information and Media from 2014 (amended in 2015 and in 2016) obliged the government to remove its ownership of media, installing instead a system of public calls for budget co-financing of media projects in line with the public interest. [47] The Guidelines for Creating Web Presentations of State Authorities, previously developed by the former E-government Directorate, aim to direct the public authorities to publish their data so as to increase transparency and availability. [48] Furthermore, according to the Regulation on Funds to Support Programs or Missing Amount of Funds for Programs of Public Interest implemented by associations, public calls should be focused at the projects of public interest only. [49] In the opinion of the informal coalition of journalists and media associations that actively monitors such calls however, media projects without a clear relation to the public interest still win many awards at both the state and local levels. [50] [51] According to the OCCS reports on public funds granted to the associations, sports associations represent the largest recipients of these funds. According to these reports, there is also a significant difference between the data published by the public authorities and data published by the Treasury Administration. [52] The calls are often inadequately publicized, lacking clear criteria and lacking biographies of the grant-giving commission members and the score lists of the granted projects to justify the awarded grants. [53]

In response, this commitment aims to ensure full transparency of projects that public authorities finance or co-finance and that media associations implement. As stated in the commitment description, it further aims to eliminate the need to submit requests to access information of public importance and aims to ensure easier analysis and reuse of public data. In terms of tackling the OGP values, this commitment is thus directly related to the access to information and technology and innovation for transparency and accountability.

However, it is highly questionable whether this commitment will achieve the objectives set. The Ministry of Culture and Information representatives were consulted at the early stage of developing commitment proposals, [54] but this institution is not identified among the (lead nor supporting) implementing agencies in the Action Plan. This commitment also seems to overlap with the commitment 2 related to the e-Calendar of public calls. Moreover, although OCCS later explained to the IRM researchers that this commitment is related only to the media, [55] it remains unclear why the commitment contains associations as its subjects. The focus of the commitment on the media only was also confirmed to the IRM researchers by the institutions in charge of the implementation (MPALSG) [56] and the other stakeholders (international organization and CSOs involved in the Working Group and dealing with the open data). [57] With only two quite broadly defined activities (adoption of the Regulation on Detailed Requirements for Development and Maintenance of Official Websites of Authorities and preparation of a new guide on this matter), this commitment is also vague and lacks precision, limiting the IRM researchers’ ability to establish its potential impact. For example, it is unclear whether the data from public calls would be published on the National Open Data Portal, which would significantly increase access for all stakeholders. [58] Another issue raised is whether the data published can be updated by the grant providers throughout the year. Finally, as explained to the IRM researchers, the process of adoption of the regulation disregarded recommendations by the Office for Information Technologies and e-Government to precisely define the content of web pages based on the instructions for developing information booklets, made by the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection. [59] The reason was of a legalistic nature because the bylaw emerged from the Law on e-Government and not the Law on Free Access to Information.

Consulted CSOs had mixed opinions about the commitment’s scope. Although the Law on Electronic Government covers all entities of public authorities (including public enterprises), [60] some CSOs representatives dealing with media freedom pointed out that the commitment will not manage to cover the large amount of funds provided by public enterprises for media development support. [61] Representatives of international organizations dealing with media monitoring thought that the activities within this commitment were good enough but that they should have also focused on amending the rulebook on co-financing media projects relevant to public interest. [62] As an activity within the commitment, the guide should present the instructions on the public call procedure implementation, including the procedure on publishing data on financed projects. Thus, the guide may prove to be helpful in supporting this commitment’s implementation, particularly if it includes the content not addressed within the Regulation on Detailed Requirements for Development and Maintenance of Official Websites of Authorities (such as the standards for web-page content). [63]

Next steps

The commitment’s implementation would benefit from further specification of both covered activities. The IRM researchers recommend the following in this regard:

  • To the MPALSG:
    • Define precisely whether this commitment is related to the media only or the other associations as well, and clarify which bodies will implement the commitment;
    • Define precisely the content of data from public calls that will be published and provide guidance on what is necessary to have the web page content in a machine-readable form;
  • The Guide should contain the guidelines on the websites’ content previously developed by the former eGovernment Directorate;

To the Ministry of Culture:

  • Define in the Guide the precise criteria for granting media and association applicants, with additional specific criteria related to the geographical scope of activities and the project or activity planned in line with the public interest.
[47] Law on Public Information and Media, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 83/2014, 58/2015, 12/2016, Belgrade, 2014, 2015, 2016, http://rem.rs/uploads/files/Zakoni/1615-Zakon%20o%20javnom%20informisanju%20i%20medijima.pdf (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[48] Guidelines for Creating Web Presentations of State Authorities, Institute for Informatics and Internet, Government of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, 2010, page 14, http://arhiva.ite.gov.rs/doc/Smernice_5_0.pdf (accessed on 15th of March 2019);
[49] Regulation on Funds to Support Programs or Missing Amount of Funds for Programs of Public Interest implemented by Associations, Government of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, 2018, page 1 and 7, http://demo.paragraf.rs/WebParagrafDemo/?did=424823 (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[50] “Medijski konkursi: Svima pomalo, a nekima malo više”, “Insajder” Website, Insajder, Belgrade, 9 June 2018, https://insajder.net/sr/sajt/tema/11524/ (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[51] “Medijski konkuri” Topic, “Cenzolovka” Website, Cenzolovka, Belgrade, https://www.cenzolovka.rs/tag/medijski-konkursi/ (accessed on 15 March 2019);
[52] Annual Summary Reports on Expenditure of Funds to Support Program Activities Provided and Payment Associations and Other Civil Society Organizations from the Budget of the Republic of Serbia, Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society, Government of the Republic of Serbia, Belgrade, https://bit.ly/2DoqlCy (accessed 15 March 2019);
[53] Focus group with civil society, journalists and experts, date: 20 February 2019, organized by the IRM researcher;
[54] Minutes of the meeting in the Ministry of Culture and Information on the proposals for the OGP Action Plan 2018-2020.
[55] Representative of the Office for Cooperation with the Civil Society, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 13 February 2019;
[56] Representatives of the MPALSG, interviewed by the IRM Researcher, 18 February 2019;
[57] Representative of the international organization involved in the Working Group and dealing with the open data, interviewed by the IRM Researcher, 8 February 2019, and focus group with civil society, journalists and experts, Ibid;
[58] Focus group with civil society, journalists and experts, Ibid;
[59] Representatives of the Office for Information Technology and e-Government, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 19 February 2019;
[60] Law on Electronic Government, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia No. 27/2018, Belgrade, 2018, https://bit.ly/2OXM4J7 (accessed on 15th of March 2019);
[61] Focus group with civil society, journalists and experts, Ibid;
[62] Representatives of the international organization dealing with the media freedom, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 13 February 2019;
[63] Representatives of the Office for Information Technology and e-Government, interviewed by the IRM researcher, 19 February 2019;

Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

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

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. 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

  27. 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

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

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

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

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

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

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

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

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

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

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls