Overview of Results in 2015: Proactive Transparency in Public Administration in BiH
Through the thematic area of Communications and Knowledge Management the Programme for Strengthening of Public Institutions in BiH supports four beneficiary institutions (Public Administration Reform Coordinator's Office – PARCO, Agency for Statistics of BiH – BHAS, Directorate for European Integration – DEI, and Agency for Development of Higher Education and Quality Assurance – HEA) in improvement of strategic communications which includes improvement of transparency of their work, enhancement of cooperation with the civil society, capacity building in the field of communications, introduction of new tools and approaches in practice, such as strategic communication with the citizens via social media.
Measures in this area are based on objectives and measures of the reform area Institutional Communication within the public administration reform in BiH. In March 2014 the Programme supported coordination of activities with the civil society stakeholders in the process of advocating the membership of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). At this occasion concrete proposals were developed for measures which can be supported by the Programme and which were harmonised with the principles and commitments of the Partnership. One of those measures is increase in the proactive transparency in the beneficiary institutions.
During preparations for the implementation of this measure it was found that it was necessary in the first step to define what proactive transparency means and why it is important as well as to define the standards of proactive transparency that correspond to the actual situation and needs. It became also apparent that it was necessary to define this framework in joint efforts with the members of civil society organisations and thus the representatives of Transparency International BiH– TI BiH, the Centre for Social Research Analitika, and the Centre for Investigative Journalism – CIN were actively included in the implementation of this measure.
The Programme supported a series of workshops (first one on July 30th, second one on August 25th, and the third one on September 4th, 2015) during which representatives of the four beneficiary institutions, the three civil society organisations as well as the representatives of the Information Service of the Council of Ministers, Agency for Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight Against the Corruption, and the Institution of the Ombudsman for Human Rights developed two key documents:
- Policy of Proactive Transparency in Public Administration, a policy document that represents a well-argued, professional basis for launching the initiative for improvement of proactive publication of information as well as it provides for clear guidelines and recommendations for actions in this area. You can download the document in Bosnian here, in Croatian here, in Serbia here. The document was also translated into English (download here).
- Standards of Proactive Transparency in Public Administration, a document that precisely formulates standard information for proactive disclosure, okument koji precizira standardne informacije za proaktivnu objavu, broken down according to the types of information and maturity levels. The standards were defined in accordance with the best practice in this area and with the modern needs. Document in Bosnian can be found here, in Croatian here, in Serbian here as well as in English here.
Both documents – as well as the gained experiences of all involved organisations – were presented through a public campaign on proactive transparency that was supported by the Programme. During the campaign You Have the Right to Know, implemented from mid August until mid October 2015, additional contents were developed in order to present the proactive transparency initiative to the public, among others:
- animated video Transparency in Public Administration was developed to present the initiative, policy document and next steps to be taken within the initiative
- 4 infographics were developed to show the efforts of the beneficiary institutions in improvement of their proactive transparency
- 4 information leaflets were prepared with information about individual institutions and the proactive transparency issues
- 4 thematic open-doors days organised in the four beneficiary institutions: PARCO dedicated its Open Doors Day to the issues of public consultations (link in BCS only), DEI dedicated it to the issues of children's rights and the EU integration process (Facebook link), HEA focussed on the cooperation and dialogue with the student associations (article in English), and BHAS on cooperation with the academic community (media story in BCS only).
Crowning of the campaign was organisation of the Conference on Proactive Transparency in Public Administration on the occasion of the International Right to Know Day, September 28th, 2015. The conference was opened by the Public Administration Reform Coordinator Dr. Dragan Ćuzulan, Director of HEA Dr. Husein Nanić, Acting Director of TI BiH Lejla Ibranović, and the Programme Manager Reinhard Lüke. The conference successfully gathered around 80 participants, mostly representatives of public bodies from the BiH level as well as numerous media and CSO representatives. Round table on proactive transparency and in cooperation with TI BiH a panel discussion on broader issues of FOI and OGP were held within the conference.
This conference, however, did not represent the end of this initiative but rather its beginning. Beneficiary institutions chose during the conference to improve their own proactive transparency in the following year and according to the jointly developed and presented standards. Already in the weeks after the conference the institutions showed that this commitment came to life and, for example, the following month the media recognised the progress made by PARCO (link in BCS only).
Furthermore, the initiative was presented to the members of the supervisory team for the reform area of Institutional Communication and it is the intent of the Programme to support the dissemination and adoption of the developed policy document and the standards. Representatives of the beneficiary institutions will promote proactive transparency and achieved results from their own practice and the Programme will enable further exchange of experiences between the representatives of public institutions and the civil society organisations.