The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information and the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association respond to the fact that the two most important policy documents - the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan and the Public Administration Reform Action Plan, which are to define the commitments of the public agencies to be carried out in 2021-2022 - are not yet developed in the second quarter of 2021. In order to achieve timely the strategic goals and objectives set in the relevant areas, it is important that they have already been developed and published by the beginning of the period covered by the specific action plans.
In December last year, the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), together with the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (GYLA), issued a statement welcoming the launch of the elaboration of Public Administration Reform (PAR) policy documents with the involvement of civil society representatives by the government administration. In the beginning of 2021, IDFI submitted its views and recommendations to the Secretariat of the Anti-Corruption Council to assist in the development of effective anti-corruption policy documents. Despite this, as mentioned above neither the Public Administration Reform Action Plan 2021 – 2022 nor the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2021 – 2022 have been prepared as of the second quarter of 2021, the relevant strategies have not been updated, and information on the progress of these processes has not been published.
It is noteworthy that the monitoring and evaluation methodologies of both the Anti-Corruption and the Public Administration Reform strategic documents provide for the preparation of a monitoring and evaluation reports, however, the Anti-Corruption action plan is not available yet and no information on these processes has been published.
Timely and proper monitoring and evaluation of policy documents are essential for better planning of further reforms and correcting past shortcomings. Therefore, it is important that these processes are carried out in a timely and transparent manner and new Anti-Corruption and Public Administration Reform strategic documents are developed without further delay. The delay and vagueness of these processes indicate the problem of inter-agency coordination, as well as less priority of these areas for the government.
Attention should be paid to the amendment to the Law of Georgia on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Civil Service, according to which organizational and administration support of the Interagency Coordinating Council against Corruption will be carried out by the Government Administration instead of the Ministry of Justice. The shortcomings of the legislative amendment process are noteworthy - the issue was not been discussed at the meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council, no public consultation was held and the explanatory note of the draft law does not meet any criteria, as it does not provide a proper analysis of the situation, nor the problems caused by the current situation and justification as to why a specific intervention was chosen. This indicates that the process is being rushed without proper research, analysis and planning. It should be noted that the initiation of the draft law in an expedited manner on the transfer of anti-corruption coordination powers to the government administration happened soon after the Parliament considered unreasonable to discuss the draft legal amendments on the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Agency. However, this issue still remains relevant, as the independence of anti-corruption agencies is the most important standard that ensures effective fight against corruption, accountability, high degree of transparency and, consequently, high public confidence.
IDFI and GYLA call the authorities to pay more attention to the Public Administration Reform and the fight against corruption, to take into consideration the challenges identified in these areas and to develop ambitious and effective policy documents in a timely manner.