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Access to public information decreases

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, May 27
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) presented research focusing on the access to public information within state structures on May 23. The Open Society Georgia supported the survey. 493 requests were sent to 29 public institutions to determine the availability of public information in Georgian public bodies.

The organization conducted its previous survey soon after the Georgian Dream took office. The previous survey covered the period from October 2012 to September 2013 with a significant improvement in the access of public information. However, the recent survey that covers the period of October 2013-March 2014 reveals a 14% deterioration in access.

Head of IDFI Giorgi Kldiashvili told The Messenger that one of the major aims of the research was displaying whether public institutions managed to maintain positive tendencies in terms of access to information after the October 1, 2012 parliamentary elections.

“The fact is, there is a negative tendency. The percentage of complete answers received by the public decreased by 14%, and the percentage of ignored requests increased by 5%. We have sent demands and questions the institutions were obliged to respond to such as salaries, bonuses, business trip expenses, correspondence from official email and so on,” Kldiashvili said.

The survey showed that the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs were the most accountable public institutions, with 100 percent access to information.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable development had the worst outcome.

“We should especially emphasize the cases of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Finance of Georgia. These institutions failed to provide the type of information that was available during the initial stage of the change of government in the beginning of 2013,” Kldiashvili stated.

On The Messenger question what might be the reason of the deterioration, Kldiashvili responded that during the previous research, the ministries had to deliver information regarding the activities and shortcomings of the former government, when now they had to respond to questions over the issues that are under their direct supervision.

Vako Natsvlishvili, representative of Open Society Georgia, states that the current legislation fails to meet the challenges, and causes controversy in terms of what is public information and what is not. According to him, a draft is being created through the involvement of the Open Society Georgia and the Ministry of Justice that will regulate the problematic issue in the future.