Performance Evaluation of the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Performance Evaluation of the Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government

01 November, 2023

(17 June 2022 – 31 July 2023)


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 (hereafter – the Council) in the Parliament of the 10th Convocation, in a period between 17 June 2022 and 31 July 2023 (hereafter – the reporting period). The report examines and evaluates the activities of the Council as well as the fulfillment of the commitments taken under the Action Plan. The report is based on the information received from the Parliament in response to our FOI requests, as well as information available on the website of the Parliament, and monitoring conducted by our organization.

Key Findings

The Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government in the Parliament of the 10th Convocation predominantly engages in pro-forma activities and falls short in enhancing the transparency of the Parliament. The Council does not support the inclusion of vital commitments in Action Plans and declines significant initiatives presented by non-governmental organizations. The Council has shown no response to the deteriorating levels of openness and transparency in Parliament, as evidenced by ongoing access restrictions and the presence of a metal fence at the entrance for years now. The OGP process at the governmental level is in a crisis, and the Parliamentary Council remains unresponsive to this issue.

The 10th Convocation Parliament has deliberately been pursuing a policy of rendering the institution closed and non-transparent. In 2022, the Parliament revoked permanent passes for specific local and international non-governmental organizations that were monitoring parliamentary activities. This move has significantly impeded the monitoring of parliamentary proceedings.

In 2023, revised media accreditation regulations were introduced, further solidifying the Parliament’s status as a closed and less transparent institution, especially for critical media representatives. This development has a detrimental effect on the quality of information available to the public and poses a threat to the country’s democratic progress. In 2023, the Parliament passed amendments that imposed restrictions on former members of the Parliament, requiring them to obtain a pass in order to access the Parliament.

It is important to highlight that the implementation of the 12 Recommendations of the European Union was in progress during the reporting period. Consequently, ensuring Parliament’s transparency, rooted in democratic principles, was crucial. During the deliberation of significant bills, like the widely discussed so-called Russian Law, access to Parliament was severely limited, thus denying the public the opportunity to express their critical viewpoints.

The Parliamentary Standing Council of Open Government, primarily tasked with upholding Parliament’s openness and transparency, appears to be unresponsive to the current challenges.

Activities Implemented by the Council

●      Four sessions were held;

●      5 working groups worked to fulfill the commitments stipulated by the 2021-2022 the Open Parliament Action Plan;

●      Out of 19 commitments of the 2021-2022 Open Parliament Action Plan, 10 commitments were fully fulfilled, 6 were partially fulfilled, 3 commitments were not fulfilled.

●      The Module on Supervision Mechanisms was updated on the website of the Parliament, but still it needs significant improvement;

●      Per the commitment of the Action Plan, the Health and Social Affairs Committee developed "The first report of monitoring and evaluation of the universal healthcare program of the Health and Social Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Georgia" and published it on the website of the Parliament, under the Committee's section.

●      A guide on Civic Engagement in Parliamentary Activities was prepared, aiming to raise awareness among members of parliament about tools to enhance civic engagement in parliamentary activities, improve access to information, and promote mutual cooperation.

●      Legislative digests were prepared and published on the Parliament's website with the purpose of informing citizens about legislation.


●      Parliament’s openness and transparency have deteriorated in recent years, but the Council remained unresponsive to these issues.

●      The commitments envisaged under the 2021-2022 Action Plan were not timely and fully implemented.

●      The proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure outlined in the 2021-2022 action plan were not adopted;

●      The 2023-2024 Action Plan was approved belatedly and comprises only three commitments, primarily focused on the analysis of various matters and the examination of existing practices. The plan fails to produce tangible results that would enhance civic engagement in parliamentary activities and increase parliamentary transparency.

●      In the development of the Action Plan, the Council considered just 1 out of the 21 initiatives proposed by the non-governmental organizations that are members of the Advisory Group.

●      The Council fails to monitor or oversee the crisis regarding the OGP process at governmental level. The government has not yet developed the OGP Action Plan.

●      The members often do not attend the Council sessions.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The openness and transparency of the Parliament of the 10th Convocation have significantly deteriorated in recent years. The current situation in Georgia in terms of open government should be assessed in a complex manner. It should be noted that since 2015, the Parliament of Georgia has been one of the leaders in the OGP. Significant reforms promoting parliamentary openness were undertaken during this period, with civil society playing a key role as the initiator. The process of developing open government initiatives was collaborative, involving both the parliamentary majority and opposition, with representatives from all factions on the Standing Council. The achievements in parliamentary openness are a result of this collaborative effort. However, cooperation with the Parliament of the 10th  Convocation has become notably more challenging in recent years.

●      The cooperation with civil organizations became strained. In 2022, international and non-governmental organizations were asked to vacate the working space in the Parliament, which they had been using for years. The reason was the renovation of the Parliament building. This was soon followed by the revocation of their passes. It should be underlined that these organizations hold a critical role in monitoring parliamentary activities and this restriction significantly impedes the monitoring of parliamentary proceedings.

●      Following the events in March of this year, some members of the Advisory Group ceased cooperation with the Parliament. Subsequently, the Council terminated the membership of these organizations.

It is worth noting that the national OGP process in Georgia has stalled. For the fourth consecutive year, the country has not undertaken any national-level reforms under the OGP. Georgia has not had an OGP Action Plan since 2019, thereby violating OGP participation and co-creation standards twice. The Government once more sought to maintain the OGP process at the national level as a pro forma, rejecting significant and meaningful transformational commitments proposed by civil society.

Considering the existing situation, non-governmental organizations that are members of the Georgian Open Government Interagency Coordination Council/Forum addressed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee with a letter requesting to invoke the “Response Policy”. This mechanism aims to enhance the OGP Secretariat, partner donors and international organizations' involvement in resolving the crisis.

Given the current situation, it is crucial that the OGP process in the country remains uninterrupted, and the parliament takes the following steps:

●      For effective supervision, the Parliament’s Council of the Open Government should express interest in the current OGP situation at the government level and conduct a public hearing;

●      The Council and its members must address the current state of parliamentary transparency, specifically focusing on efforts to prevent the Parliament from becoming a closed institution. In recent years, accessing the Parliament has become increasingly challenging due to frequent barriers. Furthermore, the Chairperson of the Parliament, who also serves as the Chair of the Council of Open Government, has tightened entry rules that may potentially impede individuals interested in utilizing parliamentary engagement mechanisms;

●      The process of implementation of the Council’s Action Plan should be active, involving working groups and MPs. The Council should fully fulfill the vital commitments that will bring tangible outcomes in enhancing parliamentary openness;

●      It is crucial that the initiative to amend the Rules of Procedure regarding publishing information on the website becomes a law promptly;

●      The Council should concentrate on more ambitious reforms and activities.