During 2011 Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) conducted several watchdog activities which covered several fields:
• Monitoring of implementation of the right of access to public information;
• Monitoring of official web-pages and various communication resources of public institutions;
• Increasing transparency and accountability of Georgian court system;
• Finding out the extent of proactive disclosure of public information by public institutions;
• Observing necessary mechanisms and leverages in order to ensure involvement of citizens in public policy;
• Checking the extent of fulfillment of local, national and international obligations taken by the state.
Due to assess the level of accessibility of public information and accountability of the government, IDFI contacted to different public institutions and requested following public information: General information about administrative body, information about state expenditures, finances and privatization of state property, information about the programs and projects which is conducted by particular public institution, detailed list of cultural and advertisement events, expenditures on advertisements. It is worthy to mention that public institutions mostly violated the period of responding the FOI requests. Due to this fact, IDFI had to contact to public bodies repeatedly.
It is important to highlight that the request of public information was refused several times. Government bodies stated that requested information was related to the personal information of public officials, information about their finances and other private issues, which should not be public without person’s approval. In accordance to the General Administrative Code personal information (Work number, E-mail and Finances) is open and can be released without special permission.
IDFI requested following information from Ivane Javakhisvhili Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University: Salary and Bonus of the Rector, expenses on internal and external vacations, service, telecommunication and other costs. Despite of the fact the Universities mostly violated the period of responding the FOI requests, they released requested information.
On 28th of January, 2008 131 Civil Society Organizations, Journalists and Defenders of Freedom of Information from Europe sent appeal to European Parliament with the demand of defending the principles of freedom. European Commission set the issue in the agenda of European parliament to limit the accessibility of the particular documents. It will give permission to the representatives to make their E-mail communication secret from society. This statement violated the principle of openness which is defined by European Convention.
On 28th of February 2011 IDFI delivered the presentation of new publication “Electronic Transparency in Georgia”. "Electronic transparency in Georgia" analysis the level of electronic transeprency of web pages of public agencies, in particular the transparency and exhaustiveness of public information available on their websites. The book also deals with the trends of development of electronic government and electronic transparency in Georgia and worldwide. It ranks public agencies in terms of the level of their electronic transparency.
In March 2011 Institute for Development of Freedom of Information launched a project “Public Information Database – www.opendata.ge. Within the framework of project it is planned to refine and develop the information web-portal www.opendata.ge, which shall permanently display of actual and socially significant public information officially requested from public authorities.
In April 2010 IDFI launched a project “Monitoring of Information (Internet) Resources of Public Authorities of Georgia” Project is the extension of the activity that the IDFI carried out in 2010 - Monitoring of Governmental Agencies' Informational Recourses. In the framework of the project IDFI analysts had opportunity to observe official websites of different public institutions. They evaluated transparency of the government body, check the information and its content. At the same time they monitored existence of interactive applications which public bodies use for conducting communication with the citizens. The public institutions, which were participated in the research process included ministries, sub-entities of public bodies, agencies, scientific and other foundations, media companies, education centers, bureaus etc.
Within another project IDFI works on the book of Stalin’s Lists together with the Archive Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. The book about “Stalin’s Lists” will present biographical information about the victims of the “Great Terror” of 1937-1938 in Georgia, particularly about the persons who were sentenced to extreme penalty by Stalinand other Politburo members. The Book will be based on the information that was received from the International Society Memorial.
On August 30, 2011 Georgia responded to the invitation of the President of the United States Barack Obama officially expressed its readiness to actively participate in the Open Government Partnership initiative as “a regional leader” and to address the challenges of open governance in the 21st century.
The Open Government Effort officially begun in New York City, on September 20, 2011 when the leaders of the 46 nations (among them was the president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili) agreed about the values of the open government. Open Government Declaration was endorsed by the eight states: Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States. The partner countries in advance have agreed on certain issues.
Throughout 2011 IDFI had opportunity to cooperate with different public institutions in the framework of research project, discussion or other format. It observed government activities and provide with recommendations whenever it was necessary.
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