Performance Evaluation of the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government
The report is developed by Transparency International Georgia within the framework of the parliamentary monitoring project and it evaluates the performance of the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government in the Parliament of 10th Convocation in a period between 11 December 2020 and 12 June 2022.
There is close cooperation between the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government and the civil society. Despite the fact that the Council takes into consideration most of recommendations of the civil society while developing an action plan, timely implementation of commitments remains a challenge. There are several challenges in parliamentary work in terms of information accessibility, civic engagement, and openness. It still remains a problem for citizens and representatives of civil society and media to enter the building of the Parliament and attend the sessions. Since the fall of 2021, a steel barricade was erected at the entrance of the building, but the Parliament including the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government did not respond to this issue.
The Council held 4 meetings during the reporting period;
- 19 working groups were created under the Council;
- 3 of the 19 commitments under the 2021-2022 Action Plan were fully implemented, the work is still underway on rest of the commitments.
- The Parliament introduced the amendments to the Rules of Procedure which envisaged implementation of the commitments taken under the action plan, namely, the rule of preparing and issuing the decision about creating a working group by the parliamentary committee, outlining the timeframe and objectives for working process, producing statistics of working groups and proactively publishing minutes/audio recordings of public meetings;
- In order to implement a commitment under the action plan, the statute of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee was amended. Pursuant to the amendment, following the hearing of the Public Defender’s reports, at the stages of preparing and sharing feedback with the Committee, the responses provided by the government agencies will be published within 3 days on the website.
- The statute of the Healthcare and Social Issues Committee was amended which ensured that the Committee would periodically publish reports about the oversight platform of the government’s health programs on the parliament website.
- The Office of the Parliament developed a methodology/plan for the functioning and continuity of the Parliament’s work during a state of emergency as well as a state of crisis.
- Following the action plan commitment, the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) with the support of the European Union (EU) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conducted research on “Mechanisms and effectiveness of Civic Engagement into the Parliamentary Activities”
- The renewed Citizen Engagement Center started functioning in Parliament.
There was a problem for representatives of civil society and media entering the building of the Parliament and they were refused entry groundlessly. Since the fall of 2021, a steel barricade was erected at the entrance of the building , but the Council did not respond to this issue.
- Only 3 of the 19 commitments under the 2021-2022 Action Plan were fully implemented, the work is still underway on rest of the commitments. The deadline for fulfilling the commitments is by the end of 2022, however, per the action plan, some of the commitments had a specific timeline and the implementation of them are already behind due date.
- The following significant commitments embodied in the action plan were not implemented within the timeline:
- A set of amendments to the rules of procedure that would ensure enhancing parliamentary oversight during a state of emergency were not developed. The amendments have to consider the possibility of remote parliamentary work during a state of emergency.
- No changes were adopted to improve the structure of reports of the Parliament and Committees.
- No changes were made for the proactive publication of information on control mechanisms. In particular, the Parliament had to create a working group that would discuss a new module about the control on the website, present it to the Council, and integrate the new module into the Parliament website. It is especially important that the information about the control over the defense and security sector is transparent.
Evaluation and Recommendations
During the reporting period, it still remained a problem for citizens and representatives of civil society and media to enter the building of the Parliament and attend the sessions. The Council did not respond to this issue. Although the 2021-2022 Action Plan envisages important commitments in terms of parliamentary activity, some of them are still not fulfilled.
- The Council should be interested in the cases of groundless refusal to entry to the Parliament building.
- The Council’s action plan has to include more ambitious commitments and should take into consideration the recommendations of the Open Government Partnership about action plans. It is not the number of commitments of the action plan that is important, but their content and scale.
- The Parliament of Georgia should simplify the procedure for citizens to enter the building, citizens should be able to enter the parliament hall without an entrance pass, but only going through a security check.
- It is essential that the Council implements commitments taken under the action plan within the set deadlines. Moreover, the activities of the working groups should be more vigorous.
- The Council should develop and adopt a set of amendments to the Rules of Procedure that would increase the role of the Parliament during a state of emergency.
- A unified updated form of parliamentary and committee reports should be approved which will include a wider range of activity-related information.
- A new module about the parliamentary control mechanism should be developed.
- The Parliament website still needs to be improved and it is important that the information on the website is easily accessible to interested persons.