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Tunisia

Improve the Transparency and Local Gov Openness (TN0024)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Tunisia Second National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry in charge of local affairs

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, Local Commitments, Open Data

IRM Review

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

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Improve the transparency and local Gov Openness

IRM Midterm Status Summary

4. Improve transparency and local government openness

Commitment Text:

Developing practical mechanisms to facilitate the access to information and enshrine the principles of accountability and participation in the design and implementation of programs and projects at the local level.

Milestones:

  • Drafting a practical guide to explains the principles of open government and various applications at the local level in order to encourage projects and initiatives which could be launched in this field.
  • The development of an electronic platform for open data at the local level

Responsible institution: Services of governance, Presidency of the government, Ministry of local affairs and environment.

Supporting institution(s):

As mentioned in the NAP: Tunisian Association for Local Governance

As evaluated: Tunisian Association for Local Governance, Article 19, ATCP, FSVC

Start date: June 2016        End date: July 2018

Context and Objectives

Decentralization is part of the main political agenda of post-revolution Tunisia. The Tunisian constitution introduced the principles of decentralization through 12 articles. [20] Historically, local affairs were always part of the powerful Ministry of Interior. However, since 2016, the Tunisian government, under Prime Minister Habib Essid separated local affairs to a dedicated ministry. The first Minister of Local Affairs was Youssef Chahed, the Prime Minister at the time of writing this report.

In 2014, Tunisia drafted the “Urban Development and Local Governance Program” planning to finance it through a loan from the World Bank. [21] On October 2015, the program was officially launched [22] with a budget of 1,220 million TND (USD 530 million), with a USD 263 million loan from the World Bank. [23] This program aims to support local authorities and build their capacities by developing mechanisms for financial management, and reinforce the relationship with citizens to foster inclusiveness.

The reform of local affairs went through multiple complicated steps. The government merged and created new municipalities through decrees and planned to have local elections since 2014. These were postponed four times and were re-planned for May 2018. [24] Yet, the “code of municipalities”, to regulate municipalities, is not ready yet and the Tunisian parliament is being particularly slow in passing this major reform. Critics were severe about holding local elections without the code.

A website for local municipalities was developed as part of the “Urban Development and Local Governance Program” in 2015. This website includes open data, however, without any codebook accompanying the csv and excel files. The mid-term government self-assessment report does not mention if this portal was part of the commitment.

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information. Its specificity is medium, and it has a minor potential impact. Having a platform and a guide without having trained personnel at the local level means that this commitment is not likely to lead to major impact.

Completion

This commitment is not started. Neither a draft for a practical guide nor a platform for open data have been developed.

The government has prioritized organizing municipal elections and completing the fundamental laws related to local municipalities. Moreover, after the government change in 2016, Prime Minister Chahed, who was the Minister of Local Affairs, merged his former ministry with the Ministry of the Environment. This resulted in changes of multiple heads of departments.

The self-assessment report mentions that the Ministry of Environment and Local Affairs will put this commitment under the Tunisian-French cooperation to provide enough funding to execute the project.

Next Steps

Commitments related to Open Local Governance are important to the Tunisian democratic transition and the decentralization process. Therefore, if not completed under this action plan, this commitment should be expanded, clarified and carried forward. The IRM researcher recommends the following:

  • Ensure this commitment is part of the Urban Development and Local Governance Program.
  • Familiarize the upcoming municipal councils (the ones that will be elected in 2018) with open government principles.
  • Involve the to-be-elected local officials following the local elections in May 2018 and develop a pilot project with limited municipalities across the country. This could be done with the municipalities of Tunis, Sousse, Marsa and Bizerta from the coastal regions, as well as the municipalities of interior regions such as Tozeur, Sidi Bouzid, Seliana and Kasserine.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

4. Improve the transparency and local Gov Openness

Commitment Text:

In accordance to the new constitution that calls for supporting decentralization and devoting transparency and local governance, this commitment will allow developing practical mechanisms to enshrine the principles of accountability and participation in the design and implementation of programs and projects at this level.

Milestones:

  • Drafting a practical guide to explains the principles of open government and various applications at the local level in order to encourage projects and initiatives which could be launched in this field.
  • The development of an electronic platform for Open data at the local level
    • Choose at least a Municipality to establish open data system at the local level according to a certain number of criteria.
    • The development of an open data system,
    • Communication about the system and assisting citizens, especially the inhabitants in the concerned municipality to access it.

Responsible institution: Services of governance, Presidency of the government, Ministry of local affairs and environment.

Start date: June 2016 End date: July 2018

Editorial Note: This is an abbreviated version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text from the Tunisia National Action Plan, see here.

Commitment Aim:

This commitment intended to arrange for providing practices and tools for open government principles at the local level. The commitment entails two activities: the creation of a website for the Open data platform at the local level and the drafting of a practical guide about the best practices of good governance and open government.

Status

Midterm: Not Started

The continuous delay of the local elections significantly impacted the implementation of this commitment. The restructure of the government and creation of the new Ministry of Local Affairs and Environment that was supposed to take charge of the implementation of this commitment also contributed to this delay. As of the midterm, the implementation of the milestones did not start.

End of term: Limited

According to the OGP focal points in the Tunisian Government, a guide had been drafted by the Ministry of Local Affairs, but it was still waiting for approval at the end of the action plan implementation period. The IRM researcher could not access the draft to verify its content. Regarding the development of an electronic platform for Open data, the IRM researcher found that a portal [33] had existed since 2015. During this implementation cycle, only a tab was added to the portal, which was a minor modification. The data available on the portal is neither accompanied with a codebook nor a reference to the dates of creation, publication or modification date. The data does not include detailed information about budget, but rather includes a sum of all the expenditure on one entry and the rows of entries do not include the related dates. The completion of this commitment is therefore limited.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

The commitment aimed to encourage practices of good governance and open government at the local level and the creation of an Open data portal. This commitment is part of the broader decentralization strategy that the central government is undertaking to delegate further power to local governments while improving their governing capacities. However, with the limited steps taken for the implementation of this commitment there was no change to government practice.

Carried Forward?

The commitment was not carried forward to the next action plan.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership