A new report on proactive disclosure of public information in Georgia published by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), a local watchdog, on January 16, says that “most public institutions still fail to provide high standards and consistent disclosure of public information.”
According to the report covering the results of monitoring of 128 public institutions, in 2022, the average rate of proactive accessibility of public information was 60% that is 4% higher than in 2021 and 11% lower than in 2014.
Compared to 2021, 7 out of 14 central public institutions have worsened the rate of proactive disclosure of information. The average rate of proactive disclosure of public information by subordinate entities and legal entities of public law improved by 3%. However, “43% of them had less than 50% of the required information published on their websites.”
13 out of 128 monitored public institutions, including the Ministry of Culture and Sport, did not have their own websites; 17 public institutions either did not have a public information section on their websites or did not publish any information in this section.
In 2022, only three public institutions (Financial Analytica Service, National Statistics Office, and National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement) published information in compliance with the requirements of the relevant legal act.
Among central public institutions the lowest compliance was demonstrated by the Office of the State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality (30%), followed by the Government Administration (34%) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (35%). The highest compliance was demonstrated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (97%) and the Ministry of Defense (96%).
IDFI also points to the problem related to the publication of financial information, noting that none of the evaluated public institutions had published information in open formats (CSV or XML). 38 public institutions had published financial information in Excel format.
In this context, the organization focuses on the website of the Government Administration, saying that most of the information related to public procurement and finances has not been updated since 2014, meaning that “the Government Administration has not been fulfilling the obligations defined by the government decree since 2014.”
Highlighting the problems related to proactive disclosure of public information, IDFI simultaneously focuses on positive steps taken by separate agencies in 2022. In this context, the organization notes the adoption of an improved decree by the Adjarian government and the disclosure of relevant public information on the website.
The report also notes that separate agencies provide a detailed breakdown of a certain category of information, naming the National Statistics Office and the Ministry of Education and Science as the examples.
IDFI said that following its 2020 monitoring, 7 public institutions created the sections of public information on their own websites and started to publish information there.
To improve the quality of proactive disclosure of information, IDFI recommends public institutions:
- To provide access to any public information of public interest.
- To publish the information in detail, particularly indicating the names and
surnames of officials.
- To introduce the practice of disclosing public information in an open data format and placing it on the data portal data.gov.ge.