Monday, November 24, 2014

Open Government Initiative and Corruption in Georgia

"Digitalization of many government services have started about ten years ago, and a few most successful cases nowadays include UN public service award winner projects such as “Georgian Electronic Government Procurement System” by State Procurement Agency of Georgia (2012 UNPSA winner) and “Online Asset Declaration System” by Civil Service Bureau (2013 UNPSA winner)".
Government of Georgia (GoG) acknowledges importance of Open Government Initiative (OGI) framework, thus institution and information technologies are developing with the aspiration of transparency, accountability and innovation.
Open Government partnership can be considered as a cornerstone principle and a main supportive element to fight corruption. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, “From being one of the most corrupt countries in Eastern Europe by 2003, now Georgia has 4% corruption perception among its citizens, only 2% have experienced bribery and 77% of Georgians are satisfied with government’s actions towards fighting corruption (Life in Transition Survey, EBRD, 2011).
Efficiency, accountability, transparency outcomes were achieved under the E-procurement and E-declaration platform, which was established and developed under the OGI framework. Not only technical support was provided for the implementation process, legislative framework was absolutely revised for the OGI and E-service development purposes.
E-procurement – before 2003 the most corrupted agency was “State Procurement Regulatory Agency”, thus innovative approach development was the most important agenda for GoG. Not only corruption elimination was the target, public procurement efficiency was the second important outcome. Concept of “most corruption agency” was abandoned when was introduced. Every public procurement activity should be conducted through online bidding. Web page architecture is constructed in a way where possibility of corruption is minimal. During the bidding process there isn’t possibility to see competitor’s information, only bidding information is visual. When procurement/bidding procedures are completed everybody have opportunity to see every stage of competition, thus full transparency, accessibility and equal competition is guaranteed.
E-declaration – civil servants have obligation to declare information regarding income, property, assets and etc. Before E-declaration development declaration was organized through the paper work, and by the management and supervision of the special governmental body/authority. A lot of drawbacks were on the surface, for instance: over utilization of resources (human and monetary), weak transparency, poor monitoring regarding fulfillment, and shortcomings about cross checking opportunities. Currently E-declaration is fully implemented and public servants are under public and media attention and with the precise monitoring opportunities. E-declaration efficiency was proved recently, when former Speaker of Parliament didn’t declared bank account information precisely and was fined by the government.

Should be mentioned that implementation process was well organized and managed. Public servants and interested stakeholders (media, NGO representatives) have ongoing training opportunities for skills development.

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