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National Assessment of Georgian Municipalities

News | Research | Good Governance | Media Internet Telecommunications | Publications | Report 6 December 2017

The latest wave of local self-government reform took place in 2014 and involved the adoption of a new Local Self-Government Code. The code introduced direct election of mayors[1] and governors, clear separation of duties between the central and local authorities. Also important was the inclusion of a separate chapter on the mechanisms of self-governance, which introduced new mechanisms (general assembly of a settlement, council of civil advisors) and further refined existing ones (petition, participation in meetings of representative bodies, hearings of public official and municipal council member reports).

 

Despite the general legal framework, the mentioned forms of participation were introduced in municipalities incoherently. There are several reasons for this, including lack of technical-material capabilities, experience and political will of municipalities. Awareness, willingness and skills of the local population to engage in political processes and contribute to solving local problems are equally important. According to recent polls, only 7% of the population is aware of the activities of their municipality. [2] Also, the number of people who have information about newly introduced participation mechanisms is insignificant. [3]

 

In response to these challenges, the Local Self-Government Index was created with the joint efforts of the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC), Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) and the Management Systems Development Center (MSDC). It aims to establish transparent and accountable self-governance in Georgia, increase public participation in self-governance and reduce corruption risks. The project was implemented with financial support of Open Society Foundation.

 

Methodology

 

The Local Self-Government Index consists of 3 thematic blocks: proactive disclosure of public information, electronic governance, and citizen participation and accountability, which combine 100 evaluation criteria.

 

The evaluation of the transparency and accountability of municipal bodies in Georgia was carried out from May 15 to July 15, 2017. All Georgian municipalities, except for Azhara, Akhalgori, Eredvi, Tighvi and Kurta, were evaluated. The evaluation was carried out with the involvement of 21 representatives of 10 regional civil society organizations. The evaluation was made using the online platform - WWW.LSGINDEX.ORG.

  

Key Findings:

 

- On the scale of 0 to 100%, the average result of all municipalities was only 21%

 

 - The majority of municipalities fail to reach even 20% in proactive disclosure

 

 - Only 10-12% of municipalities publish (incomplete) information about their administrative expenses

 

 - More than 40% of executive bodies do not publish any information on ongoing tenders on their website

 

 - More than 50% of executive bodies do not publish annual reports

 

 - Use of new technologies in the field of citizen services is rare (online permits, SMS alerts, online surveys)

 

 - The quality of technical characteristics of municipal websites is below average (34%)

 

 - In the last year, more than 85% of municipalities have not held a single general assembly of a settlement

 

 - More than 60% of municipalities have not held a session or public meeting of the council of civil advisors

 

 - Only two municipalities had included citizen participation programs in their budget

 

 - More than 70% of municipal councils do not inform citizens about their scheduled sessions in advance and do not publish session protocols

 

- More than 60% of municipalities do not practice the hearing of performance reports of municipal council members

 

 - Almost no information is being published about municipal legal entities

 

The project team also elaborated the following recommendations to help overcome the challenges that were identified as a result of the evaluation:

 

- Municipalities must update their list of information to be disclosed proactively and create a public information section on their websites, where thematic public information will be posted. They must also introduce quick and efficient procedures for issuing public information

 

- Municipalities must introduce online services

 

- Municipalities must develop budgetary programs that support citizen participation 

 

- Municipalities must take greater effort to strengthen the practice of using general assemblies of a settlement and civil advisor councils as legal mechanisms of citizen participation

 

- The degree of accountability of elected mayors and municipal council members to voters must be increased.

 

[1] Note: The terms relevant for the monitoring period (as of July, 2017) are used in this report. As it is known, after the 2017 local elections the term Municipal Administration is not used. Since then, all local executive bodies are headed by Mayors.

[2] Caucasus Research Resource Center, Public Policy Research, 2015, http://caucasusbarometer.org/ge/ti2015ge/LOCGOVTU/

[3] Ibid.

 

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