According to art.49 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia, public agencies are obliged to submit Annual Freedom of Information Reports to the Parliament, President and the Prime Minister of Georgia on December the 10th each year.
The obligation of public agencies to submit the freedom of information reports is a an important leverage in the hands of supervising state authorities as well as civil society to assess public information accessibility practice implemented in different state institutions.
Within the auspices of the recent report prepared by IDFI, the institute conducted comparative analyses of freedom of information reports submitted by public agencies during the period of 2009-2013. The analyses show that the data provided by administrative bodies in the reports are often incomplete, do not meet the requirements of the General administrative Code of Georgia and fail to reflect the practice implemented in public agencies. Quite often public agencies fail to submit the reports before the deadline enshrined by the legislation. Moreover number of public entities do not accept the obligation to submit the freedom of information reports at all. In certain cases, we also face the instances when public entities have no sufficient funds to ensure that the report is duly published on the web-page of legislative herald – matsne.gov.ge.
On December the 3rd 2014, with the aim of improving the existing problematic practice at public agencies, IDFI has sent a special fill-in form, prepared by the institute to administrative bodies. We find that the suggested fill-in form will assist public agencies in submitting the freedom of information reports which are highly informative and precise. It should be emphasized, that considerable number of public agencies expressed their consent to submit the freedom of information reports using the special fill-in from developed by IDFI.
Another aspect, which in our opinion would reinforce the proper implementation of the obligation to submit the 10th of December freedom of information reports, is the fulfillment of the proactive disclosure obligation of the state entities, by following the recommendations prepared by IDFI. Within the list of information to be proactively published by state entities, enshrined in The Ordinance No 219 of the Government of Georgia on Requesting Public Information in Electronic From and Publishing it Proactively, the obligation to publish the 10th of December Reports and general statistical information (based on art.37 and 40 of the general administrative Code of Georgia) can be found.
In our opinion the proactive publication of this information will on the one hand give leverage to any one interested to review the information on quarterly bases and on the other will simplify the process of preparing the 10th of December Reports for public entities, as they will only have to gather and consolidate the information published on quarterly basis. In addition it is crucial for public agencies to ensure that public registries of FOI requests are duly published on their web-pages, indicating the date of the FOI request, the content of the request and the result. It should be mentioned here, that this recommendation has been followed by number of public entities. Nevertheless publishing the registry on quarterly bases will have considerable positive impact on the process of preparing the annual 10th of December reports.
We hope that, the 10th of December Reports submitted by the public agencies in the year of 2014, will be of higher standards as compared to the previous years, and will meet the requirements enshrined in relevant Georgian legislation. IDFI addresses public entities one more time and recommends the following:
• Relevant responsible officials of public agencies should issue legal acts, according to which the form of the 10th of December Report prepared by IDFI will be obligatory for public entities;
• When publishing the statistical information (enshrined by the art.37 and 40 of the General Administrative Code of Georgia) public agencies should take into consideration already implemented good practice of quarterly processing the public registry of FOI requests.
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