Open governance as a priority for Georgia
Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a global platform which the governments join voluntarily to commit to achieving the main OGP goals. These goals include: making the government more transparent and accountable and increasing public participation in decision-making by the usage of new technologies and innovations.
Georgia joined the OGP in August 2011 and already in April 2012 the country’s government presented the first OGP action plan that included a list of commitments to incorporate the core OGP principles domestically. The main focus was on increasing citizens’ access to public services and information, including in the field of healthcare; improving the transparency of public finances and public safety by harnessing the power of new technologies. The Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Analytical Department was designated as the body responsible for the implementation and coordination of these commitments. You can access our report on the first action plan here.
Now we want to inform you about the development of Georgia’s second OGP action plan, which is already underway.
It should be noted that the first action plan was largely influenced by the active contributions of local Civil Society Organizations (CSO), among them: Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia), Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), and JumpStart Georgia. These CSOs continue to be actively involved in the work of the OGP Forum operating under the MoJ and serving as the main coordination mechanism on OGP. By doing so, they are regularly providing the government with specific recommendations to address the existing challenges pertaining to the lack of public knowledge, proficiency or interest in OGP, as well as the lack of high level government support and coordination among responsible public agencies. After a one year suspension, the OGP Forum reconvened recently on 15 January and from 5 February on the meetings will be held once a month as before.
The Forum’s main task currently is to facilitate public participation in the development of the second action plan and raise public awareness on this process. The government has to submit the first draft of the action plan on 30 April and the final document on 15 June, which should be the result of wide public consultations across the whole of the country.
Bearing this in mind, we would like to remind the government of the OGP rules on developing the action plan and suggest them a list of recommendations which we think will contribute to making this process a success:
- The Prime Minister should personally express his strong support for the development of the second OGP action plan in Georgia and ensure that all public agencies and the wider population are well informed about this process;
- The representative of the Government Chancellery should regularly attend the OGP Forum meetings and share with the Forum members the positions of the Prime Minister on specific OGP issues;
- The government should invite all relevant public agencies as well as the representatives from non-public sectors (e.g., sectoral NGOs, private companies, academia, media and international organizations) to take part in the Forum meetings. This would contribute to enriching the draft action plan with a wide range of perspectives on OGP;
- In accordance with OGP rules, the government has to create an online platform where it will publish the plan and the schedule of public consultation meetings on the OGP action plan;
- In order to ensure a high degree of public participation in this process, especially in the regions, the citizens should be given the prior advanced notice on the purpose, date and location of each consultation meeting as well as on the method (online or through in-person meetings);
- The information generated from public consultations should be summarized and published on the government’s online platform so that it is accessible to all interested people.
We strongly believe that these measures will consolidate open governance principles in Georgia and encourage the citizens to take the ownership over and engage in the development of the government’s second OGP action plan. TI Georgia will actively monitor these processes and inform the public on new developments along the way.