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Faces of Open Government – Kety Tsanava

In this section of the OGP newsletter, we feature open government champions both from government and civil society, and ask them about their OGP experiences. Here is what they have to say:

a. How does open government make a difference in people’s lives?

Open government principles denote that the governments declare themselves ready to open a dialogue with citizens, to listen to them and to build the transparency and accountability in response to their needs. This course leads to the benefit of each citizen through economic growth and innovation. Putting emphasizes on the citizens’ needs indeed breaks the walls and makes a difference in people’s lives. I have been participating in the public consultations conducted throughout the whole county, in big cities and small villages of Georgia and I’ve been told how deeply and positively innovative solutions of public service delivery – one of the key tasks of open governments affected citizens’ everyday lives. Working for OGP at the national level showcases the gaps Government still needs to overcome and the limits transparency reforms could go beyond.

b. How have you benefited from exchanging ideas with civil society?

Tremendously. We pride ourselves with the second National Action Plan of Georgia that is a joint product of an intense cooperation of government, civil society and Georgian citizens. The Government and the civil society set together at regular meetings of the national coordination mechanism – Open Government Georgia’s Forum to discuss each and every commitment initiated by the public agencies or recommendations set out by the civil society. Exchanging ideas with civil society builds a momentum of change, innovative approach to the problem that might have not been seen from a difference angle. Going through the concerns of civil society while creating the Action Plan inter alia implies that the wider public voice is heard at the initial stage, where the open government reforms are elaborated. The fact that the most of the CSO recommendations are now included in the Action Plan, as the country commitments, substantiates mutual benefits which we have attained through co-creation of the transparency and accountability agenda of the government.

c. Describe one OGP commitment from your country that you are proud of.

There are several commitments considered as the most ambitious ones of the second National Action Plan of Georgia, such as, creation of the e-petitions portal, elaboration of the effective mechanism to inform the public on budgetary processes, launching the open data portal, etc. However I am mostly proud of the commitment dedicated to elaboration of a stand-alone legislation of freedom of information in compliance with international standards. I believe this is what actually brings the government to the higher level of development. As a person involved in this very process I am proud to witness a wide involvement of stakeholders from civil society, local and international experts to contribute to this significant reform. It is worth noting that the Action Plan also includes a commitment of developing community centers – another innovative solution for service delivery and citizen participation specifically for rural areas. I feel confident to say that both of these commitments have earned full support of citizens involved in the public consultations.

d. How are you working to overcome challenges in opening up government in your country?

The Open Government Georgia’s Forum comprises responsible agencies, other public institutions, NGOs and international organizations. The Forum reached the conclusion that at this point of development, it is crucial to raise public awareness regarding the issues of open government and the strategy to increase the Government’s transparency and accountability. We strongly believe this is fundamental to inspire a high demand of citizens towards their governments which consequently, pushes public officials to strive towards more open and responsive policy. 

Kety Tsanava is a Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. She is also the National Coordinator of Open Government Partnership in Georgia.

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