TI Georgia Urges Mayor's Office to Act More Transparently
18 March, 2010
The mayor's office is showing little ambition to make its administration costs, spending on implemented projects and details on contracts with companies it has hired public. In the past, mayor Gigi Ugulava and his senior staff have claimed they were following principles of good governance and transparency. Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) urges the mayor's office to fulfill these promises. More than two months ago, TI Georgia sent an official Freedom of Information request to the mayor's office requesting all procurement and expense-related information about the construction and renovation of the administration's new building near Saakadze Square. Even after sending numerous follow-up requests by phone and mail, TI Georgia has not received any response from the mayor's office. This is a violation of the Government of Georgia's administrative code that guarantees its citizens access to public information. This is not the first case in which the mayor's office has failed to make requested information publicly available. Other questions by TI Georgia directed to the administration have similarly been ignored. Recently, requests for a list of companies operating the newspaper kiosks in Tbilisi, allegedly managed by a company called White Distribution, went unanswered as well. TI Georgia is not the only watchdog organization to be denied access to important information. Other organizations and independent media outlets have likewise expressed frustration when requesting information from the mayor's office. TI Georgia requested information about the construction and renovation of the mayor's building as part of a project that would make all its contracts public and allow citizens, the media and watchdog organizations to access and analyze the city's use of taxpayer money. The project is funded by Oxfam-Novib and the UK Georgia Professional Network. The project is motivated by the large number of unverified rumors concerning the misuse of public funds, all made worse by the scarce amount of public information about public expenditures and administrative costs.