Issue 6, 2017. December-January



Tbilisi will hold the chair for one year. The country has been praised for its steps toward public accountability although transparency and data experts caution that more work is necessary.

Inge Snip

Georgia is now the chair of the international Open Government Partnership (OGP), taking over from France in September 2017, and will lead the organization until October 2018.

The multilateral initiative was founded in 2010, and currently counts over 70 national governments (representing a third of the world's population), fifteen subnational governments, seven multilateral bodies, and thousands of civil society organizations.

"Trust is at the very heart of OGP's endeavors, and we look forward to working with our new co-chairs to increase the breadth and depth of open government initiatives," said OGP CEO Sanjay Pradhan, who was quoted in press release.

The partnership works to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make governments more open, effective, and accountable.

And Georgia was awarded the co-chair position due to its commitment to improve government transparency.

The country's progress has been noted. Transparency International ranked Georgia 44th out of 100 countries in its Corruption Perception index, a significant improvement compared to previous years where it continuously ranked above 50th.

Serving the public

In an open letter about the Georgian government's commitment to creating an open government, PM Kvirikashvili wrote that "engaging directly with our citizens has given us a better understanding of the shortcomings we need to overcome."

He noted that Georgia's successful reforms have led to new opportunities at home and internationally.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Georgia Shombi Sharp praised the government's reforms.

"UNDP has been proud to support Georgia building its well-deserved reputation in governance reforms for over a decade, from the Public Service Hall concept to more recently helping the ServiceLab imbed citizen co-creation into the design and delivery of more effective, innovative public services. And we worked with the Georgian Parliament on an ambitious action plan to increase citizen engagement, for example through e-petitions, which was recognized by the global OGP 'Champions Award' in 2015," Sharp told

"Chairing the OGP now is a great opportunity for Georgia both to share its many achievements with other countries, while at the same harnessing new opportunities in the area of open data."

The country will have four main strategic goals during its chairmanship, includng strengthening citizen engagement and ensuring transparency and combating corruption.

Since joining the OGP membership, Georgia has made several concrete steps to open its data up to the public increasing its accountability.

In 2012, the government initiated its Transparent Party Financing, a new framework that allows citizens to see where the finances of political parties come from. In 2014, political party financial declarations, in the form of information provided by political parties and related statistics, started to be shared on the official website of State Audit Office in machine-readable format (in Microsoft excel forms).

In 2014 the Supreme Court of Georgia started compiling statistics on hearing motions regarding operative investigative activities, in order to ensure transparency and accountability of law enforcement agencies. By completing this commitment, Georgia is one of the few countries worldwide publishing these statistics.

Eric Barrett, a technologist and data journalist, has followed the Georgian OGP developments closely over the past few years and is cautiously optimistic. "The Georgian government has made strides, albeit more slowly than I would like," Barrett told

But Barrett also mentions that are still some major issues in the manner the government is working to improve its transparency.

He notes that crucial information which society can benefit from is either behind an extremely high paywall, not public at all, or of poor quality.

One example is the business registry. Prior to the 2012, civil society could access data about registered businesses in bulk, but after the Public Registry made some changes, this data is no longer available for proper analysis. Barratt warned that publishing information behind a paywall "undermines equal participation in using that data as a service, whether for accountability purposes or even for profit."

Small steps to success

The Georgian government is working with civil society to make sure its reforms are making a difference. For instance the Open Government Georgia's Forum was recently created to oversee the government's activities related to the OGP and helps bridge state institutions and civil society.

Keti Tsanava, the National Coordinator of OGP at the Ministry of Justice, told that the government is "continuously developing new strategies to open up data crucial to understand future economic development, improved accountability, and more. We are working with all government agencies to ensure the data is submitted in the right format, but of course this is a learning process, and we continue to learn everything day."

She added that work on a new action plan, which will be developed with civil society, government agencies and international organizations, will start in four months.