City Hall Transparency (TBI0010)
Action Plan: Tbilisi Action Plan 2018-2020
Action Plan Cycle: 2018
Lead Institution: Municipal Services development Agency NCLE, Tbilisi Municipality Legal Department, Tbilisi Municipality City Hall Administration, “Institute for Freedom of Information Development” NCLE
Support Institution(s): NA
Policy AreasAccess to Information, E-Government, Local Commitments, Open Data
DEVELOPMENT OF TRANSPARENCY IN TBILISI CITY HALL THROUGH ELECTRONIC MECHANISMS
1. Local Context and Needs Transparency of Tbilisi City Hall's activity has been gradually increasing over the years due to the demand of the public for better transparency regarding the activities of the City Hall. Civil society, journalists and stakeholders requested to be given more possibilities to monitor and evaluate the efficiency of the City Hall. Stemming from this, in order to facilitate the increase the transparency of Tbilisi City Hall, it was decided to improve municipal electronic resources, create open data base, increase the quality and simplicity of access to information for public.
2. Commitment Content Description
The commitment integrates three directions aimed at improving e-transparency in Tbilisi City Hall and increasing access to open data. In particular, the commitment provides for the following issues
2.1. Update of Tbilisi City Hall Portal Taking into Consideration the Version of the Concept Prepared by the IDFI The format of Tbilisi City Hall web-page will be updated to make it easier in use and more informative for citizens. The precise technical task for this and accordingly the list of technical changes to be implemented shall be determined in compliance with the time frame indicated in Appendix N5 for the purpose of drawing up technical tasks. In addition to simplify the navigation for users, the renewed version of the Tbilisi City Hall web site will pay attention to enactment of individual pages of city bureaus. Besides, individual pages of the bureaus. Tbilisi City Hall web site will have the list of all subordinated to the City Hall subjects, their contact information and other basic data (function, manager, legal form, etc.).
2.2 Elaboration of New Version of Public Information Page Public information page includes proactive publication portal for the publication of the public information and the electronic tool for subscribing to the public information. Proactive publication is one of the important tools and indicators of open governance. It is noteworthy that according to the National Assessment of Transparency and Accountability of Municipalities in 2017, the municipality rate was only 35% (see http://www.lsgindex.org/ge/outcome/view/1/).Despite the fact that the relevant section has been created in the Tbilisi City Hall website, it has become necessary to upgrade itsince the existing module is very difficult for navigating. In addition, one of the most important subissues of proactive publication of public information is the introduction of electronic means for requesting public information. The concept developed by IDFI has been successfully implemented on other self-governing websites, including Kutaisi, Zugdidi web-sites and the Georgian Parliament website. Similar to various municipal and public institutions, Tbilisi City Hall will be able to modify the public information page, taking into consideration the existing experience.
2.3 Creation of an Open Data Page of Tbilisi City Hall The concept of Open Data has a special place in both open governance and contemporary models of electronic government. At the same time, one of the most important products of the open data concept is the Open Data Portal, which provides for publishing of the public sector data in an open, processable and accessible for everybody formats, enabling citizens, businesses, media, non-governmental and governmental institutions to use without restriction the given data, to build web applications and e-services using these data and to get other benefits. Perfect examples of this concept are the United States Federal Open Data Platform http://www.data.gov created by the Federal Government, Open Data Portal of the United Kingdom http://www.data.gov.uk, open data unified platform for EU countries http://www.open-data.europa.eu. For the same purpose within the framework of the "Open Governance Action Plan" approved by the Government of Georgia in 2015, Open Data Portal http://www.data.gov.ge was created by the Legal Entity of Public Law "Data Exchange Agency". In 2018 open data portal was also created by civil society organizations - http://datalab.ge. The Parliament of Georgia has also created an open source page in cooperation with IDFI - https://info.parliament.ge/open-data/.In the frames of the OGP Action Plan, similar portals have been created by a self-government pilot program members and other cities, such as Austin's Portal - https://data.austintexas.gov and Washington Portal - https://data.wa.gov/. Consequently, the development of the Tbilisi City Hall's open data page will be carried taking into account the elaborated model in the framework
of the Tbilisi City Hall Portal Concept. 3. Positive Outcome for the Public Implementation of liabilities will facilitate increasing transparency of municipality activities and more perfect mechanisms enabling citizens to have access to the information. In addition, information available in the form of processable (open data) will facilitate development of civil control as well as the use of information on the Tbilisi municipality for innovations, technologies and research purposes. 4.Annex№5 Implementation date: 2020
Commitment5: Development of Transparency in Tbilisi City Hall through Electronic Mechanisms
Municipal Services development Agency NCLE, Tbilisi Municipality Legal Department, Tbilisi Municipality City Hall Administration, “Institute for Freedom of Information Development” NCLE
Description of Current Situation
Taking into consideration the existing practice, the need for improvement of E-Transparency Mechanisms of Tbilisi City Hall has been revealed Although there are currently different tools available for access to information, they need to be updated as it is difficult now to use the entire system. The public information page requires a structural update because the existing module is not flexible enough for ensuring easy access to information. At the same time there are no open data modules in Tbilisi City Hall, which makes it difficult to obtain the appropriate information.
Improvement of electronic transparency mechanisms for providing quality and comprehensive information for citizens (including open data).
Transparency, access to information
Technology and Innovation for Openness and Accountability
Developing technical tasks needed for upgrading of the portal based on the concept offered by Tbilisi City Hall; New 12.2018 02..2019
Integration of the public information page concept in the technical assignment of Tbilisi City Hall Portal;
12.2018 - 2.2019
Adding of new functionality to the Tbilisi City Hall portal according to the technical task;
3.2019 - 7.2019
Launching of the updated version of proactive publication of the information on the renovated portal of Tbilisi City Hall in the pilot mode and posting of information through it; --
7.2019 - 9.2019
Modification of open data portal concept and preparation of technical task;
2.2019 - 4.2019
Creation of Open Data Portal of Tbilisi City Hall and its activation in a pilot mode
5.2019 - 8.2019
Posting information on an open database portal;
9.2019 - 12.2019
Piloting and launching mechanism for retrieval of public information.
9.2019 - 12.2019
-Technical task for the update of Tbilisi City Hall Portal is created taking into consideration the concept presented by IDFI ; - -A new portal of Tbilisi City Hall is enacted and information is regularly updated; - - New page of public information is integrated in the City Hall Portal and information is regularly published on a new module; - -Mechanism for electronic retrieval of public information is integrated in the City Hall Portal - - Open Data Portal of Tbilisi City Hall is created and information is regularly posted / updated.
Risks and Hypothesis
Possible initial failures in newly introduced system
IRM Midterm Status Summary
5. Development of Transparency in Tbilisi City Hall Through Electronic Mechanisms
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:
“The commitment integrates three directions aimed at improving e-transparency in Tbilisi City Hall and increasing access to open data. In particular, the commitment provides for the following issues:
- Update of Tbilisi City Hall Portal Taking into Consideration the Version of the Concept Prepared by the IDFI
- Elaboration of New Version of Public Information Page
- Creation of an Open Data Page of Tbilisi City Hall
5.1. Developing technical tasks needed for upgrading of the portal based on the concept offered by Tbilisi City Hall
5.2. Integration of the public information page concept in the technical assignment of Tbilisi City Hall Portal
5.3. Adding of new functionality to the Tbilisi City Hall portal according to the technical task
5.4. Launching of the updated version of proactive publication of the information on the renovated portal of Tbilisi City Hall in the pilot mode and posting of information through it
5.5. Modification of open data portal concept and preparation of technical task
5.6. Creation of Open Data Portal of Tbilisi City Hall and its activation in a pilot mode
5.7. Posting information on an open database portal
5.8. Piloting and launching mechanism for retrieval of public information
Start Date: December 2018
End Date: December 2019
Editorial Note: The commitment text above is an excerpt from the Tbilisi 2018–2020 action plan. The complete text provides detailed and technical information on how the milestones will be carried out. The full commitment text is available here: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Tbilisi_Action-Plan_2018-2020.pdf
Context and Objectives
This commitment, similar to Commitment 4 from the first action plan, was proposed by the Georgian CSO the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)  and seeks to improve Tbilisi City Hall’s transparency.  The National Assessment of Transparency and Accountability of Municipalities in 2017 rated Tbilisi City Hall at 35%, with an average rate of 21%, indicating a lack of proactive disclosure of public information, electronic governance, and citizen participation and accountability.  In addition, a 2015 study by the Caucasus Research Resource Centre found that only 7% of Georgia’s population understand how their respective local governments work, and 25% trust them.   Information scarcity and lack of proactive disclosure lead the media and citizens to question the trustworthiness and openness of the Tbilisi government and make it difficult for the public to monitor work quality and government efficiency. 
Georgian legislation ensures access to public information, with Global Right to Information granting the country 97 points out of 150 and placing it in upper-middle cohort, according to strength of legal frameworks to information.   Chapter 3 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia guarantees access to “public information available at the administrative body, as well as right to receive copies unless the information contains state, professional, or commercial secrets or personal data” (Chapter 3, article 10.1). In Tbilisi, it is possible to submit a formal request for public information to City Hall, with the public institution obliged to issue requested public information immediately or no later than 10 days thereafter (Article 40.1). The agency must provide justification for refusing information disclosure and introduce procedures for appeal within three days of the decision. Proactive release of information however does not free public institutions from issuing requested public information.
Georgia has developed a number of open data portals for publishing government-held information. For example, during Georgia’s 2014–2016 national action plan, the government introduced the open data portal http://www.data.gov.ge though municipal governments often do not provide relevant information in a timely manner . Open Society Georgia Foundation (OGSF) funded another open data portal (http://www.opendata.ge), but it is currently inactive. IDFI operates yet another open data platform(http://www.Datalab.ge), which incorporates datasets on local government, including Tbilisi City Hall’s revenues from tree-cutting permits, the number of construction permits, and personnel wage statistics, and so on.
This commitment aims to introduce new and improved electronic platforms to make access to information easier and less time-consuming. It contains three deliverables: 1) upgrading Tbilisi City Hall Portal to incorporate and promote the pages of local districts (Gamgeoba), 2) elaborating on a new version of the public information page, which will make it easier for users to find desired information and operationalize information requests, and 3) creating an Open Data Portal, which will publish public sector data in an open and accessible format. Data will be structured by thematic category so that it they are presented in a more user-friendly format, similar to Austin’s Open Data Portal. 
The commitment involves concrete and verifiable milestones, including development of technical tasks for portals, launching renovated City Hall website, adding the upgraded public information portal to it, and piloting the open data platform. However, some milestones leave space for interpretation. For example, the commitment does not explain how the processes will be internalized in City Hall, whether operating the portal will require additional staff, or whether there will be standardized procedures for updating the portal.
Currently, City Hall does not have any open data modules, which makes it difficult for citizens to know whom to contact or where to find relevant information. The public Information page is also currently difficult to use and does not offer information in an open format. As a result, upgrading the City Hall website and public information portal and introducing an open data system could make it easier and less time-consuming for stakeholders to find information. However, while the renovated portal can help advance the open data principle in public administration and present information in a more user-friendly manner, the actual impact depends on the number and type of datasets to be disclosed as well as the frequency of updating the portal, which is not explained in the commitment text.  Therefore, this commitment is considered to have a minor impact on improving access to information in Tbilisi.
Introducing a new open data system will be an innovation in City Hall’s practice of delivering information. These mechanisms could enable individuals to easily receive and analyze information about City Hall’s projects, milestones, and specific areas of intervention. Presently, two designated staff members at City Hall are in charge of responding to all public information queries.  A renovated public information page and open data portal could help operationalize the process, increase accessibility, potentially reduce the number of official requests, and enable citizens to track request status.
If this commitment is carried forward to the next action plan, the IRM researcher recommends the following steps be taken to strengthen its potential impact:
- As a number of examples showed, launch and introduction of mechanisms is the beginning of a lengthy process of sustaining and allowing the mechanisms to deliver results. Before launching, City Hall should adopt a system supporting legal documents and develop a technical management system description for the back office, which will define the regularity of updating information on the Open Data Portal and the public information page, as well as the responsible staff members. It is important to have clear institutional vision on the amount and type of information and datasets to be uploaded on the portal. Analyzing what kind of information citizens request most frequently could support institutionalization of administering portals.
- To expand the commitment’s scope, it would be useful to develop a public relations strategy and conduct an outreach campaign, as lack of public interest and low awareness can reduce its use. This could entail development of a promotional video, printing and disseminating brochures, and conducting public presentation in partnership with IDFI and relevant CSOs. Engaging the Public Relations Department at City Hall could also be valuable in planning such activities.
Smart Map Civic Activity Portal
TBI0006, 2018, Access to Information
TBI0007, 2018, Capacity Building
Access to Services and Civic Engagement
TBI0008, 2018, Capacity Building
TBI0009, 2018, Capacity Building
City Hall Transparency
TBI0010, 2018, Access to Information
Information and Civic Activities Portal “Smart Map”
TBI0001, 2017, Capacity Building
Introduction of Petition System to Tbilisi City Hall, Electronic Petition
TBI0002, 2017, Capacity Building
Implementation of Participatory Budget Mechanism
TBI0003, 2017, Capacity Building
Interactive Accessibility to Budget Spending and Introduction of Civic Control Mechanisms
TBI0004, 2017, Fiscal Openness
Introduction of Civic Control and Accessibility Mechanisms for Municipal Services
TBI0005, 2017, Capacity Building