Workshop on Freedom of Information Held

Workshop on freedom of access to information for the members of the inter-institutional group for communication and knowledge management of the Programme for Strengthening of Public institutions was held on December, 2 2013 in Doboj. This workshop gathered representatives of the Civil Service Agency of BiH, Statistics Agency, Public Procurement Agency, Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance of BiH, Directorate for European Integration, Information Office of the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers and Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office. Jasminka Džumhur, the Human rights Ombudsperson of BiH and Maja Branković, representative of the Transparency International in BiH took part in the workshop.

The workshop objective was related to exchange of experiences between respective institutions but also with civil society organisations active in this area, such as the Transparency International. Motivation of the beneficiary institutions of the Programme for the implementation of joint activities in order to increase transparency and make concrete recommendations for the future work in this area, were a part of the workshop objectives as well.

The experiences of Civil Service Agency in terms of access to information, key aspects of the Law on Free Access to Information in BiH, planned changes, experiences and problems in its application from the perspective of the Office of the Ombudsmen in BiH, were presented too. Transparency International presented the findings and researches that are regularly conducted with regard to the Law on Free Access to Information and some of the key features of that process.

The organisation of this workshop is one of the common activities defined according to the needs of beneficiary institutions of the Programme and it was preceded by a workshop on the preparation of a communication plan and programme budgeting of institutions involved in the Programme. The participants rated the event as beneficial for further work, but also as the initial impulse for closer future cooperation and defining joint activities in terms of better functioning, effective implementation of the Law and distribution and availability of information to the citizens.

MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNICATIONS GROUP VISITED THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM

The members of the Group for Communications from seven state institutions participated in a study visit to Great Britain from 22 to 27 September 2013. The visit was hosted by the Cabinet Office of the UK Government with the purpose of familiarisation with the methods, procedures and standards of communications of public institutions in this country. Beside the Cabinet Office, the participants also visited the 10 Downing Street, British Parliament, Cabinet's Office Shared Communications Service, Civil Service Reform Programme, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Department of Education, Government Procurement Service, Office for National Statistics and the Westminster City Council. The visits to these administrative bodies were focused on gaining insight into the best practices and examples of successful communications, such as strategic planning of communication campaigns, outreach towards and cooperation with the communities, citizens and interest groups, cooperation with the private sector, rationalisation and sharing of the resources, as well as on building strong capacities for communications in public administration.

This visit enabled the representatives of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian institutions to gain direct insight into the daily work of organisations which have a long tradition and a great reputation in communications not only in the UK but also worldwide. Based on the visit numerous ideas have been already developed for the improvement of communications in the B&H public administration and the inter-institutional group for communications within the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions will intensively work on these issues in the future.

Apart from sharing knowledge, experiences and practices, the hosts generously offered the group members many useful contacts, resources and documents which will be of extreme practical value for the future work of each group member and of the group as a whole.