Overview of Public Administration Reform in Georgia

News | Open Governance and Anti-Corruption | Analysis | LOCAL GOVERNMENT 2 April 2024

On February 19th, the Public Administration Reform (PAR) Secretariat presented the first draft of the PAR 2023-2024 Action Plan Annual Monitoring Report to civil society organizations for feedback. This is a positive step, giving civil society organizations an opportunity to state their positions regarding the reform implementation progress during the preparation of the report. IDFI made comments regarding the completion of a number of activities, as well as sending comments to the Secretariat about the reporting methodology. It should be mentioned that the final version of the annual monitoring report is not currently available on the website of the Administration of the Government. According to the Policy Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation Handbook approved by the decree №629 of the Georgian Government, annual monitoring reports must be published no later than March 1. Additionally, it is also important that the information on the overall plan implementation rate be presented in the final version of the report, which was not the case in the draft report.


Public administration reform has been in progress in Georgia since 2015 and is an important prerequisite for the establishment of a transparent, accountable, and effective public administration system and the creation of public institutions that are based on good governance principles and guarantee citizen wellbeing. On the road to EU integration, implementing effective public administration reform is all the more important for Georgia, as compliance with EU standards of the public administration system is one of the fundamental conditions in the accession process.


In 2015, based on the principles of public administration  established by OECD/SIGMA, the first strategic document - Public Administration Reform Roadmap 2020 - was developed and the 2015-2016 Action Plan was prepared, followed by the 2017-2018 and 2019-2020 action plans. The reform covered 6 main directions:


- Policy planning; 

- Public service and HRM; 

- Accountability; 

- Service delivery; 

- Management of public finances; 

- Local self-government. 


With the listed directions in 2015-2020, several tangible results were achieved: the policy planning and coordination system in the country was fundamentally changed, the hierarchy of policy documents in the country was defined, and the methodology for creating policy documents, reports, and evaluation documents was signed. Additionally, the methodology for holding public consultations during the policy planning cycle was developed; two important laws were adopted in the direction of public service and human resource management - “On Public Service” and “On Labor Remuneration in Public Institutions”. The development of a unified policy on public services was initiated, which was completed in 2022, and Georgia adopted the Public Services Development Strategy 2022-2025. Within the framework of the reform, the monitoring system for the property declarations of public officials was also implemented. In the direction of decentralization, the “Local Self-Government Code” and the adoption of the Decentralization Strategy 2020-2025 are of note.


Nevertheless, in parallel the achieved results, important activities necessary for the transformation of the field remain unimplemented: A unified electronic system for policy planning, monitoring, and evaluation has not been created; Despite the adoption of the methodology, public consultations and citizen participation in policy planning still exists as a formality; The budgeting process has not been tied to the policy planning cycle; A new law on LEPLs has not been adopted to this day; A new law on freedom of information has also not been adopted, and a handbook for the enforcement of the norms regulating freedom of information has not been developed; Approaches to public information disclosure remain contradictory, as evidenced by the December 10 reports, as no unified form for these has been developed thus far. The practices in the publication of the annual and 6-month progress reports of policy documents is also inconsistent. Among them, in the case of the public administration reform strategy reports itself, no 6-month and annual monitoring progress reports were published on the website of the Administration of the Government or on any other public source. The activities listed above are only a part of unimplemented activities that were planned to be completed before 2020. Detailed information about the implementation of the activities defined by the 2019-2020 Action Plan, as well as the achievement of planned tasks, can be found on the PARTracker, created by IDFI together with the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, which also presents alternative reports on the implementation of the 2019-2020 Action Plan.


It should also be mentioned that in the case of some activities, despite their implementation, sustainability of the achieved results was not ensured. For example, ichange.gov.ge - citizen engagement platform, which was created but left without functionality. In order to maintain the sustainability of the reform as a whole, it was important to continue the reform process in continuous mode. During the 7 February 2020 session of the Public Administration Reform Council, the adoption of the 2021-2024 strategy was set in December 2020, and the speech by the Head of the Administration mentioned that “uninterrupted reforms and maintaining the existing 6 directions was an important priority for the Georgian government.” Despite the announced date, in 2021-2022 there was no PAR strategy in Georgia, and it was only adopted 2 years later, on 16 February 2023 by Ordinance №66 of the Government.


Despite a long planning process, IDFI believes that the new strategy falls significantly behind its predecessor in terms of ambition. The planned goals, objectives, and activities are less oriented on transforming core governance fields. This is evidenced by the target values  of the impact, outcome, and output indicators. The second PAR strategy covers the period from 2023 to 2026 and, unlike the previous document, covers 4 directions:


- Policy planning and coordination;

- Public service and HRM; 

- Accountability; 

- Public services. 


One direction, PAR Coordination, is additionally present, but according to the explanations in the document, said direction does not represent a core direction of the strategy, and only the reform is supported  by the four directions above.


The Strategy does not separately present the management of public finances and the self-government directions. The topics of reforms in these two directions are instead contained in independent strategies. It should be noted that the direction of self-government was added to the 2020 handbook with the consideration of the Georgian context and needs and is not defined as a separate direction by SIGMA. However, it should also be taken into account that the updated version of The Principles of Public Administration is oriented around the topics of regional and local self-governments as well as the central government. Therefore, it is important to extend equal efforts on public administration reform on central as well as local self-government levels.


IDFI’s Opinions on the PAR 2023-2026 Strategy


Considering the target values of impact, outcome  and output  indicators presented in the logical framework of the Strategy, as well as the existing principles of public administration of SIGMA, IDFI considers that the PAR 2023-2026 Strategy is not focused on fundamental reforms and transformations.


We identified unambitious  indicators in each direction, as well as issues and challenges that remained outside the Strategy and were important to be on the public administration reform agenda.


Policy Planning and Coordination


One of the principal challenges in this direction is that the Strategy does not provide for the harmonization of policy documents and the budget. There was a plan to retrain civil servants in estimation and budgeting issues in 2023, but these trainings are not able to ensure the linkage of policy planning with the budget planning process. Additional instruments need to be developed that would evaluate and provide the link between policy documents and the state budget.


Additionally, while one of the indicators related to the budgeting of the policy documents itself measures the quality of the budgeting tools attached to the policy documents, along with the quality, it is also necessary to assess the extent to which every adopted strategy (or standalone action plan) will have a budgeting tool attached. At this stage, the majority of documents do not have budgeting tools attached to them.


The Strategy and Action Plan do not pay enough attention to the topic of public consultations. One of the indicators meant to assess the implementation of the first objective (1.1. Further improvement of institutional capacity for policy planning, monitoring, and evaluation processes and development of resources and competencies in the public sector) assesses the average score of the public consultation reports, but the quality assessment criteria of the reports are more technical in nature and do not emphasize the quality of the public consultations process itself. It is important that the quality criteria include the minimum methodological requirements that are contained in the methodology for holding public consultations. For example, it is important to assess if an agency had published an announcement for public consultation in accordance with the established deadlines, to what extent participation in public consultations for persons with disabilities was ensured, etc. It is also important to ensure the public availability of public consultation reports, which is not emphasized in the Strategy, but is emphasized in SIGMA’s fifth public administration principle (Principle 5, Sub-principle - C). It should also be noted here that to this date the public consultations report of the PAR Strategy itself has not been made available.


The topic of timely publication of reports on the implementation of policy documents remains neglected. One of the  outcome indicators  focuses on the average score of the quality of the monitoring reports. However, at the same time, it is important to assess if public institutions publish reports in a timely manner.


More efforts are also needed to develop and implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) for policy planning, monitoring, and evaluation in ministries. This activity was planned within the framework of the 2019-2020 action plan, where its scope included all ministries. Nevertheless, the activity remained unfulfilled. The presence of SOPs in ministries plays an important role in guiding the coordinated process of policy development.


Additional efforts are needed to strengthen the skills of public servants  in analyzing policy alternatives, so that in the future, the analysis of alternatives will gradually become part of the policymaking process. which is also emphasized by The updated Principles of Public Administration by SIGMA (Principle 4, sub-principle - d).


Public Administration and Human Resources Management 


The majority of indicators in the direction of public administration and human resources management do not have baseline values or contain outdated data, which makes it difficult to assess the ambitiousness of the interventions. For example, according to one of the target indicators in the direction of increasing the effectiveness of human resources management in public service, the share of HRM action plans, at least 30% of which will have been fulfilled by 2026, is 5%. Both the value for the implementation of action plans (30%) and the target value of indicator itself - 5% are unambitious. Similarly unambitious is the second outcome indicator, according to which the share of public institutions where the activities of the HRM units receive a positive evaluation by the Bureau will be 15%.


It is additionally important to note that in the direction of human resources management, neither objectives, nor activities are focused on the component of attracting professional staff to the public service. For the next action plan, steps should be taken to establish an eco-friendly public service and to ensure the availability of a flexible format of work in accordance with the updated SIGMA principles (principle 11 - sub-principle h). 




IDFI considers the accountability direction of the reform especially unambitious, which is evident in the target values  of outcome indicators and the contents of the planned activities.


The strengthening of coordination in the fight against corruption will be evaluated through rather unambitious  indicators. By 2026, the share of implementation of the recommendations issued by the State Audit Service in order to increase the effectiveness of the anti-corruption environment will only increase to 40%. It should be noted that the State Audit Service has elaborated only 3 recommendations. The indicator calculation methodology makes it clear that an action plan for the development of recommendations has been created and implementation rate of the activities defined in this action plan will be calculated, which makes the target indicator even more unambitious. According to the second outcome indicator - the share of agencies, the obligations of which are based on the results of the assessment of corruption risks, responsible for the implementation of the strategic document of the Anti-Corruption Council will be 15% by 2026. Only 15% of the agencies that are members of the Council is quite a low indicator. Although this is not the only problem. As shown in the methodology given in the Indicator Passport, what will actually be calculated will be the share of the priorities defined in the new anti-corruption strategy that are based on the risk assessment methodology. The interim, 2024 target of 5% for the indicator means that only 5% of the priorities in the anti-corruption policy strategy will be based on risk assessment results.


In addition to the fact that the targets of the indicators are not ambitious, an activity regarding operational level is contained under the objective, the implementation of which is already part of the agency's activities - "Publication of information/documents about the anti-corruption policy, its implementation and main directions".


With regard to improving access to public information - it should be noted that in 2014 the open data portal data.gov.ge was created in Georgia, but the portal is practically without function and to this date only 715 datasets have been published on the portal, and even these contain outdated data. Unfortunately, the current PAR Strategy does not envision any steps that would ensure the proper functioning of the portal. According to the defined target values of the indicator, the share of institutions that will publish open data on data.gov.ge according to the established rules will stand at 10%. Meanwhile, the number of published datasets in the next 5 years will increase by only 285. Apart from the fact that these target indicators are unambitious, the topic of regularly updating data on the portal is neglected. Additionally, in accordance with the SIGMA Principles of Public Administration (Principle 15, sub-principle h), it is important to publish on the portal the results of research conducted by public bodies and state-owned enterprises and commercial or non-commercial research carried out with state funding, and related metadata.


IDFI believes that effective and ambitious steps need to be taken in a timely manner for the improvement of access to open data in the country, in order for the portal to begin functioning properly.


In relation to the activities in the action plan, it should be noted that in order to improve access to public information, a unified form for the so-called December 10 reports should have been developed by the end of 2023. As shown by IDFI’s annual Monitoring of the so-called December 10 Reports, there is no unified practice for preparing these reports in public institutions, a large share of them do not contain required information, and in some cases agencies have not prepared and published the reports at all. Although the standardization of reports as planned within the framework of PAR should be assessed positively, at this stage the unified form for the so-called December 10 reports still has not been developed. It should also be noted here that for the effectiveness of the trainings conducted within the framework of the PAR Action Plan regarding the availability of public information, it was important to first prepare the report form as well as a handbook, and to then conduct the trainings.


IDFI believes that the accountability direction of the PAR 2023-2026 Strategy does not consider the important but unfulfilled obligations of the Action Plan of the previous period. In particular, the fact that the adoption of the new law on freedom of information was no longer included in the PAR 2023-2026 Strategy should be evaluated as a negative.


Public Service Delivery


A positive step was taken when the Georgian government adopted the Public Services Development Strategy on 12 April 2022, the elaboration of which was one of the obligations in the 2020 PAR Handbook. The Strategy was developed for 2022-2025, and at this stage it is important to take effective steps for its implementation. However, the target indicators defined in the direction of development of public services in the PAR Strategy itself lack ambition. For example, the share of public services delivery agencies that are going to be taking into account all four directions of the development of services strategy is only 27%. Over the course of 4 years, there are plans to simplify the delivery procedures of only 10 services. In addition, several among the planned activities are already part of the daily functions of the institutions and are not oriented towards reforms and innovation. For example, “organizing a meeting of the inter-agency working group and sub-groups in the direction of service delivery”, as well as “organizing systematic meetings of the State Commission for Digital Governance Coordination”, which had not been done in 2023 at all. The Action Plan also contains activities that were planned to be implemented under the Development of Services Strategy Action Plan; for example, “implementation of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) in service-providing agencies in the direction of quality assurance of state services”. 


The presented values  of  indicators lack ambition on the municipal level as well. For example, the number of services for which a minimum standard of service has been established by 2026 is only 3. Additionally, the second outcome indicator calculates the number of unique users registered on the electronic platform for providing municipal services. Instead, it is recommended that the number of active users be counted in order to better assess the level of service usage at the municipal level.


In the direction of services, in addition to simplifying processes, it is important to plan activities that will encourage citizens to use services electronically, especially at the level of local self-governments.


IDFI considers it important that effective steps be taken for achieving public administration that facilitates digital opportunities and the use of new technologies (e.g. Artificial Intelligence), which is envisioned in the SIGMA Principle of Public Administration. In addition, the need to develop a policy that ensures the development of digital skills among civil servants and the attraction of highly qualified personnel in this direction should be highlighted.


PAR Coordination


The strategy also includes a section on "PAR Coordination", but according to the current definition, it does not represent a separate direction of the public administration reform and is only in support of the four main directions of the reform. It aims to promote effective coordination of the public administration reform (although the document does not clearly define what will be achieved during the implementation period). It should be noted here that, according to the initial version of the 2023 report, only 2 of the 6 activities planned for 2023 in the fifth direction were implemented in full.




Public administration reform is an important prerequisite for the establishment of a transparent, accountable, and effective public administration in the country. It is not only an instrument for the improvement of the effectiveness of public service, but also represents an important cornerstone for democratic governance and sustainable development. Implementation of an ambitious public administration reform focused on the fundamental transformation of the field acquires special importance in the process of European integration of Georgia, as compliance of the public administration system with EU standards is one of the fundamental prerequisites for accession.


Despite the importance of the topic, our assessment considers that the existing public administration reform agenda is less oriented around the implementation of fundamental transformation. IDFI believes that the PAR 2023-2026 Strategy contains fairly unambitious indicators, while the 2023-2024 Action Plan presents activities less focused on fundamental transformation. It should also be noted that the Action Plan did not include the unfulfilled activities of the 2019-2020 Action Plan of the reform, which leaves important priorities for the transformation of the field behind, such as the reform of access to public information.


IDFI believes that more effort needs to be extended in the planning, implementation, and monitoring process of public administration reform. This is critically important for Georgia as an EU candidate country to bring its public administration system in alignment with EU standards to the greatest extent possible and to establish an evidence-based, results-oriented public administration system with transparent and accountable public institutions.


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