Georgia advances on several open government initiatives, but needs to commit to a more ambitious reform agenda as Chair of the Open Government Partnership
January 23, Tbilisi, Georgia
The Independent Reporting Mechanism report assessing the implementation of Georgia’s third OGP action plan (2016-2017) notes that while the country has made progress in several aspects of the open government agenda, the government needs to leverage its year as lead co-chair of the partnership to deliver more transformative reforms that scale up practices to improve citizen engagement and public accountability across all levels of government.
Georgia’s action plan consisted of 24 commitments covering a diverse range of topics, including improving public service delivery and strengthening integrity measures in public administration. The commitments were made by several Government bodies, including the Government Administration, six ministries, several government agencies, the Civil Service Bureau, the State Procurement Agency, the State Audit Office, and the Supreme Court. The action plan also debuted commitments on enhancing transparency and public participation from five local government bodies – Akhaltsikhe, Batumi, Kutaisi, Ozurgeti, and Zugdidi.
Of the 24 commitments, fourteen have been substantially or fully completed, while ten showed limited progress. The most successful initiatives include the launch of the Budget Monitor portal by the State Audit Office, introduction of a monitoring system for public officials’ asset declarations, and the passage of the Environmental Assessment Code. Other activities with potentially high impact were electronic innovations for transparency in public procurement, and citizen engagement initiatives in several municipalities, including Ozurgeti and Zugdidi. At the same time, the report notes, that a standalone Freedom of Information law – a top priority for Georgian civil society -has not been submitted to Parliament, and remains an unfulfilled commitment despite being included in two consecutive OGP action plans.
The study highlights the need for more relevant and impactful commitments on improving public services, anti-corruption, and citizen engagement, themes identified as priorities by the government in its OGP co-chair role. Key recommendations include prioritizing the prompt adoption of the freedom of information law, increasing the transparency of government contracts, and developing a strategy for increasing public participation at all levels of government.
OGP was formally launched on September 20, 2011, on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting, when eight heads of state, along with nine civil society leaders, endorsed the Open Government Declaration and published the first cohort of OGP National Action Plans.
Today OGP is composed of 75 national governments, 15 subnational governments, seven multilateral organizations, and thousands of civil society organizations who together have made over 3,000 commitments towards open government reforms to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make governments more open, effective, and accountable to citizens around the world.
Georgia joined OGP in 2011 and was elected to its Steering Committee in 2014. It assumed the position of Lead Co-Chair of OGP for 2017-2018 at a High-Level Side meeting at the UN General Assembly in September 2017 and will be hosting the 5th OGP Global Summit in Tbilisi from July 17-19, 2018.
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