Electronic Transparency in Georgia
By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, March 1
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) yesterday presented a book “Electronic Transparency in Georgia”. The book is about the development of electronic Government and electronic transparency by monitoring the level of electronic transparency of official web-sites of state agencies in Georgia. It was published as part of the project “Monitoring of Governmental Agencies’ Informational Resources (official websites)” financed by the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) and the National Security Archive.
The publication, concerned with access to public information in Georgia issued as part of the “public information database” project has become a subject for public discussion. Talking of the level of electronic transparency in our country, Director of IDFI Giorgi Kldiashvili stressed the importance of cooperation between the public community and state agencies. “The obligations of the Georgian Government towards their citizens have been wonderfully defined by Georgian legislation but how the particular articles are being interpreted and implemented remains in question,” Kldiashvili told The Messenger.
Mentioning the necessity to raise public awareness of the issue, the IDFI Director encouraged more international organisations to contribute to the successful implementation of the project. Providing those attending with the numbers of public bodies analysing the contents of their web pages Kldiashvili spoke about controversies the IDFI faces. “The ministries may upgrade on-line information about the projects carried out within their agencies but they refrain from proving the necessity for the amounts of money spent in implementing the particular projects,” Kldiashvili stated.
Presenting the analysis of the public information database, the IDFI Director spoke about the irrelevances met by the working group with difference state entities. He was concerned that the Administration of the President and Parliament, responsible for transparency are themselves hiding information. “But at the same time we have started cooperation with the Legal Issues Committee of Parliament and succeeded in negotiating with the Deputy Chairperson Chiora Taktakishvili,” Kldiashvili said, optimistic of more active future cooperation.
The public information database provides information on payroll funds and bonuses, budget and reserve funds and communication and fuel expenses of government bodies together with other public information. The objective of electronic democracy is to facilitate the participation of citizens in the implementation of state policy and decision-making. Introducing the path from e-governance to electronic democracy, IDFI staff explained how significantly the trend can “increases the potential, efficiency and reality of democracy.”
The majority of public authorities still fail to consider their websites as an effective means of proactively disseminating information on their own activities, rendering themselves transparent and accountable and making themselves universally accessible platforms of public information to be used by citizens and the organisations. Suggesting implementing e-communication in Georgia IDFI staff encouraged the public authorities to help establish the principles of transparency and better governance using the Internet.
Derek Dohler, digital analyst of Transparency International Georgia shared recommendations about the successful implementation of the initiative to The Messenger. “I think that access to information is a universal problem. Looking at the examples of many different governments, I think that each country can learn from advice. Access to public information would be very affective for the country. It’s much easier when everyone is aware of what is going on in the state,” Dohler told us. Explaining that refusal to public information may be generally caused by problems within the particular agency Dohler stressed the necessity to realise how important this issue is for the country.