FOI Center of Armenia Issues Comprehensive Evaluation

11 September 2014

Using a new and comprehensive assessment tool, the Freedom of Information Center of Armenia has evaluated and compared the level of transparency and openness of the Armenian government bodies.

The center used 53 criteria to create the transparency ratings and plans to repeat the study annually.

Thirty-seven state administration bodies were evaluated this year including all ministries, marzpetarans (regional governors’ offices), and state agencies adjunct to the government, the center said.

The evaluation criteria are divided into three core groups.

The first section of the index, “right for freedom of information,” includes criteria that help evaluate how the institution performs its responsibility of providing information to people based on the FOI requests. The center has in the past done evaluations based on submitting requests and examining the responses.

The second and largest section concerns proactive disclosure and accessibility of information.

The third section evaluates the appropriateness of the resources provided.

Sample Questions

Some examples of the criteria are:

– did the institution properly processed oral/written and electronic requests;

– did the institution demanded a justification for a FOI request;

– were requests have been answered within 5 days period or not;

– did the institution publish its budget and budget reports though its website;

– Are the vacancies and recruitment orders are available in the website;

– does its website contain a special section for Freedom of Information;

– are the procurement contracts are published in the website;

– does the institution publish on the website declassified documents;

– is the the website accessable for disabled persons including those who have vision difficulties; and

– Does the building of the institution is accessible for people with physical difficulties?

Evaluation Method Includes Survey

As a first step, all agencies receive a questionnaire to be used for self-evaluation. The FOI Center of Armenia then does its own assessment.

In the second phase, the FOICA’s experts assess whether the provided answers are accurate using several tools for verification (study of the official web site, practice of answering requests during that period, on site visits, calls, interviews, etc.).

The evaluation period covers September 2013 to September 2014.

 

The data of all agencies can be accessed at: www.foi.am/rating. The system allows accessing data of each institution and visualizes the results by institutions and by criteria. For example, this is the page for the President of Armenia: http://www.foi.am/rating/node/225.

The results are not available in English.

There are plans to translate the index into English.

Scores Given for Agencies

The top five best agencies included: Armavir Marzpetaran with 80 points, Ministry of Justice with 78 points, Syuniq and Vayots Dzor Marzpetarans with 76 points each.

The worst results were provided by the National Security Service with its 31.5 points, the State Nuclear Safety Regulatory Committee Adjunct to the Government with 37.5 points, the General Department of Civil Aviation Adjunct to the Government with 41 points, Ministries of Sport and Youth Affairs and Energy and Natural Resources with 41.5 points.

“The RA Government, the National Assembly and the Office to the President have also been evaluated this year. All three agencies, with all the rich and diverse recourses they own, have recorded fairly low indicators: 55.5, 45.5, and 47.5 points, respectively.??”

The index was developed with financial support from USAID.

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