Active Transparency of Public Bodies in Bulgaria Increases – Results from 2019 AIP Audit on Institutional Web Sites Show
On April 19, 2019 at the Press Club of the Bulgarian News Agency, Sofia, the Access to Information Programme (AIP) presented the Results from 2019 AIP audit on institutional web sites.
The results are online available: https://data.aip-bg.org/en/surveys/BAV422/
The aim of the audit is to evaluate the level of fulfillment of the obligations for proactive disclosure of information online and to assess the response to electronic requests.
“Results show an increase in the active transparency of public bodies in Bulgaria, especially with regard to proactive publication of institutional and operative information, draft normative acts, and the Access to Information sections on the institutional websites. However, the publication of regulatory impact assessments and reports from public consultations on draft normative acts remains low. Institutions still do not have completed the legally prescribed content of the Access to Information section,” the AIP Executive Director Gergana Jouleva, who is the author of the audit methodology, said at the press conference.
In the lack of an oversight public body, the AIP Audit serves as a model publication scheme and stimulus for public bodies to increase their active transparency.
The 2019 audit was performed within the period 22 February – 31 March 2019 by eight researchers from the AIP team. 564 web sites of executive bodies at a central, regional, and local level, and also public-law entities and independent state bodies were reviewed and assessed along a checklist of 119 indicators, 133 indicators for the municipalities, and 96 indicators for the territorial units of the central government bodies.
Within the audit, 564 electronic requests were filed for the annual report on the APIA implementation in 2018. The obligation for the preparation and publication of the report, including data on information requests, issued refusals and grounds for that, was established with the adoption of the APIA as early as 2000. The obligation for the publication of the report on the web site was introduced with the APIA amendments in 2008 (Art. 15a).
On April 2, 2019, the AIP sent the results to all of the audited institutions for feedback and considered all received statements, reflecting them in the Rating.
The assessment indicators in the checklist are combined in four groups, reflecting:
Availability of institutional, organizational, operative, and contact information under Art. 15, Para 1 of the APIA
Availability and content of the Access to Information Section under Art. 15a, Para 2 of the APIA
The obligation for launching and maintaining an Access to Information section with specific content that aims to facilitate the exercise of the right to information is effective since 2008. The 2015 APIA amendments introduced additional categories for online publication in the ATI section.
Availability of budgets, financial reports, conflict of interest declarations, public procurement information under the Public Finances Act, the Public Procurements Act, the Law on Combating Corruption and the Withdrawal of Illegally Acquired Property.
Response to the e-requests
2019 Active Transparency Ratings
The web based audit module generates different types of ratings:
- Active Transparency Rating of Central Government Bodies
- Active Transparency Rating of the Local Government Bodies (265 Municipalities)
- Active Transparency Rating of the Regional Governors’ Administrations
- Active Transparency of Regional Bodies of Executive Bodies
Also, Ratings of Agencies, Commissions, Independent state bodies; Ratings of the institutions by region; Ratings of the Regional offices of the Ministry of Interior, of the Ministry of Environment and Waters, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, Foods, and Forests, etc.
In 2019, the AIP had the web based audit module upgraded which allows for the generation of the Active Transparency Rating of the Municipalities.
And also, the Comparative Ratings indicate the upward or downward motion in the rating of each institution.
Map Visualizing Results of Budget, Financial Transparency and Integrity of Municipalities
The results from the implementation of the obligations of the 265 municipalities in Bulgaria to proactively publish information on their budgets, financial reports, interests declarations, public procurements are visualized in the 2019 Budget, Financial Transparency and Integrity Map of Municipalities of Bulgaria.
Responses to the e-requests and information provided
The AIP publishes the answers to the 564 e-requests filed within the audit: https://data.aip-bg.org/surveys/BAV422/browse-responses (in Bulgarian),as well as the provided information: https://data.aip-bg.org/surveys/BAV422/browse-responsefiles.
The web based audit system also allows to follow the statistics on the responses and the provision of the requested information.
On the base of the audit results, AIP formulates the following recommendations:
- Public bodies to better manage information resources and datasets for improving information provision and enhancing proactive transparency;
- Public bodies to introduce a system for registration and notification of electronic requests;
- Common models to be set and assistance in implementation to be provided by an oversight body;
- Oversight and sanctions for incompliance to be imposed to improve the level of implementation and the proactive publications.