Open government activists. Photos: Daro Sulakauri, Ana Gujabidze/UNDP

Open government is a simple yet hard to achieve concept that requires political will, institutional reforms in the public sector, strong and empowered civil societies, and, most importantly, dedicated people that advocate for openness, transparency and accountability of the state systems, making governance openness a new normal. Irina Pruidze, Levan Avalishvili, Sesili Verdzadze and Revaz Barbakadze - four Open Government Partnership (OGP) champions from Georgia, are telling their stories.

Irina Pruidze. Photo: Daro Sulakauri/UNDP

Irina Pruidze, MP, Chair of the Permanent Parliamentary Council on Open Governance

“Public can only trust the Parliament that is open and accountable”

I was elected to the Parliament of Georgia in 2016. Excited as I was with this new turn in my life, I also felt an enormous responsibility. I knew that, as an MP and one of the few women in the Parliament, I would make every effort to ensure that Georgia’s legislative body moves forward to becoming an open, accountable and highly functional institution that fully responds to the needs of parliamentary democracy.

I firmly believe that openness is vital for representing people and creating good laws. It also generates new opportunities for all – for the government, parliamentarians and most importantly, citizens. 

I am proud that Georgia is the first country in our region and one of the first in the world to sign up for legislative openness. Since joining the Legislative Openness Declaration in 2015, the Parliament of Georgia has been achieving a steady progress.

100 years after the establishment of the first democratic Republic of Georgia, today, we are given a chance to make the Parliament stronger, more transparent and accountable, thereby building trust among our people. I’m honoured and proud to be part of this process.

Levan Avalishvili. Photo: Daro Sulakauri/UNDP

Levan Avalishvili, Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) 

“All you need to keep track of parliamentary work in Georgia is GeoParliament App in your mobile phone”

We elect parliament to represent our views. It is vital that we can access parliamentary information, and comment on draft laws and take part in discussing new legislation.

Our organization – Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) – promotes open and transparent government and the engagement of people in decision-making. We decided to discover the smartest way for the citizens of Georgia to talk to their parliament directly.

A mobile app looked like a great solution. It’s easy to use and allows to follow the day to day business of the Parliament, including the dates of parliamentary sessions, committee hearings, bureau sittings and discussions on the new pieces of legislation. We also created a Public Information Module for the Parliament’s website that helps access important public documents in an open data format – orders and decrees of the Parliament Speaker and information on procurement, budgetary and administrative spending. In addition, you can electronically request public information related to the Parliamentary activities.

The European Union and UNDP helped us prototype and produce both services that are now available on Apple Store and Google Play.

E-petitions and e-signatures for initiating legislative changes are the next steps to bring parliamentary work even closer to people. The Parliament of Georgia has already adopted a legislation needed to set that in motion.

Sesili Verdzadze. Photo: UNDP

Sesili Verdzadze, ServiceLab

“Government is to serve people and make its service as good, speedy and accessible as possible”

For the past four years, I have been leading the Innovations ServiceLab housed within the Public Service Development Agency (PSDA) of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. It’s the only government institution in Georgia, and the first of its kind in our region, which works to bring innovation to the public sector.

ServiceLab was established in 2014 with the help from UNDP. It is an incubator of ideas that researches citizens’ needs, analyzes services and products, generates ideas about new services and develops their prototypes.

Over the years, ServiceLab has been part of many successful initiatives, such as adapting the emergency hotline 112 services to the needs of people with hearing impairments, co-creating a new service concept for the National Scientific Library of Georgia, establishment of an Innovation Hub in Rustavi and redesign local public services together with Rustavi residents.

ServiceLab is an active player in the ongoing Public Administration Reform in Georgia, assisting to craft new national policies on Service Design, Delivery, Quality Assurance and Pricing, bring citizen engagement in service design and delivery to the national level and spreads it across all government entities in Georgia.  

ServiceLab has transformed the way public services are being designed and opened doors to a co-creation process that brings together government, citizens and civil society.

I am convinced that government is to serve people and make its service as good, speedy and accessible as possible. Open Government is the best model invented so far as it provides numerous opportunities for the citizens to get engaged and obtain and share information. Open Government reduces corruption and, therefore, stimulates economy. At the end of the day, it is beneficial for all – citizens, civil societies and governments themselves. Accountability, innovation, progress – these are advantages of Open Government and a formula of its success.  

Revaz Barbakadze. Pgoto: Ana Gujabidze/UNDP

Revaz Barbakadze, cvic activist

"Rustavi is first regional city in Georgia to develop an Open Government Strategy, my personal source of pride"

I love my city. I want to see it more beautiful, more developed, and happier. I know you can’t achieve that without bringing democracy to citizens and citizens into democracy. Each of us should understand what citizenship and governance really mean. Each of us should recognise our own responsibility and how best to be engaged.  

In Rustavi, I can see positive changes happening every day. People are becoming more active in the matters of their town and community, and the authorities should keep up the pace, too.

Currently, I work at the office of the Rustavi Mayor. My job is to create and use innovative tools to make our municipality more open and inclusive for the people.

In 2017, Rustavi became the first regional city in Georgia to develop an Open Government Strategy, my personal source of pride.

In July 2018, we will have a chance to show the achievements of Rustavi at the World Summit of Open Government Partnership in Georgia. This is a big reason to be proud, too - telling the world what we are doing to build our local democracy.

At the end of the day, most rewarding thing for me is to see my community and city transforming in a positive way, knowing I have been able to put my own brick into this change.

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