Romanian Report on ATI Progress

28 July 2016

The following is the text of a report by the Ministry for Public Consultation and Civil Dialogue in Romania.

Created in November 2015 as a leading central body responsible for improving the usage, the legal framework and the practices in the areas of access to information, public consultation and civil participation, Ministry for Public Consultation and Civil Dialogue (MCPDC) set up a series of measures in accordance with its mission: create a coherent framework for public participation in the decision making process and grow the level of transparency and access to public information in the Romanian administration. These fields are important components of an open governance, and playing a key role in strengthening the rule of law by increasing the level of transparency in the public administration, the predictability of the governmental decision and the level of involvement of the civil society in the decisional processes.

The second objective of the National Anticorruption Strategy 2012-2015 was to increase the transparency of the public institutions and one of the measures where our ministry is coordinating its efforts together with the Ministry of Justice is ensuring a high compliance level with the provisions of the Law of Access to Public Information (Law no. 544/2001) and the Law of decisional transparency (Law no. 52/2003).

Measures implemented by the Ministry for Public Consultation and Civil Dialogue

1. Increase transparency and standardize the publishing of information of public interest.

The compliance level with FOIA in the public institutions increased as following:

– for the ministries, the level increased from 62% in December 2015 to 95% in February 2016;

– for the Prefectures, the level increased from 66% in December 2015 to 97% in February 2016;

– for the County Councils, the level increased from 72% in January 2016 to 93% in March 2016;

– for the Municipalities, the level increased from 58% in December 2015 to 83% in March 2016;

The memorandum adopted by the Government on the 2nd of March called Increasing transparency and standardizing the publishing of information of public interest that brings a standard both in the structure of a public institution’s website and the content and the quality of the information published, has been implemented in one month after its adoption in a percentage of:

 78% at the level of Ministries

 76% ar the level of Prefectures

 32% a the level of public companies and subordinated institutions.

The Memorandum brought a new set of documents to be published, such as:

o details about the public procurement contracts

o the level of income and benefits for the employees from the public sector

o the agenda of each institution.

o the payments made by each institution

At present, we are monitoring over 2000 institutions for the compliance with the Memorandum.

Ministry for Public Consultation and Civil Dialogue is also preparing online tools for improving the access to information in Romania, such as developing an online platform where all the requests and responses of information of public interest will be public.

2. The second area of action was the increase of the transparency level and the predictability of the Government’s meetings.

 At the end of January 2016, the Memorandums adopted by the Government started to be published for the first time in the last 25 years, after the efforts made by our ministry;

 Also, the agenda of the Government’s meeting started to be published 24 hours before the meeting, together with all the links related to the projects of Government’s decisions or law projects. In the past, none of these pieces of information were available and the memorandums were not published neither in the Official Gazette, nor on the Government’s website, before the decision was taken;

 The third measure was to publish a summary of each Government meeting, measure that was implemented starting with 27th of April, in order to allow the civil society to better understand the decisional process.

In the same context, after demanding all the public authorities (in the Memorandum) to publish their officials’ daily agenda, our Ministry launched the concept of a Unique Transparency Register at the Governmental level. This idea will be developed together with the Ministry of Justice and the Chancellery of the Prime Minister.

3. A third direction for our efforts was to build capacity at the level of public authorities to develop effective public consultation processes and ensure a participatory mechanisms in creating public policies.

3.1. In order to set a standard and to uniform the practices in the matter of public consultation, our Ministry and the Ministry for Regional Development and Public Administration submitted to public consultation a guide for all the public institutions. This guide was sent to all the public authorities, more than 3200 City Halls.

3.2. At the same time, our ministry assisted several institutions in organizing a series of debates on topics such as:

 the first debate on the national budget;

 the new curriculum for the secondary education level (Ministry of Education);

 the new law for public procurement (The National Agency for Public Procurement);

 the project for the cybersecurity law (The Ministry of Communications and Informational Society)

 the project related to declaring the Natural Park „Văcărești” a protected areas -Ministry of Environment.

Most of the debates were live broadcasted, allowing a significant number of participants to be involved in the process and to express their opinions.

3.3. Our ministry developed several tools such as:

o E-Consultation, a weekly collection of all the projects that are under public consultation

o E-Debate, a calendar of all the public debates organized by the central authorities;

o Online Library, a collection of case law (over 250 decisions) and guides and studies (over 70 materials) on the topics of good governance and access to information, will increase the level of knowledge in these areas and facilitate a greater involvement of the nongovernmental organizations and citizens in the life of their communities.

o Weekly monitoring the compliance with the procedure of public consultation provided by law, for all the projects from the agenda of the Government’s meetings. This constant action helped the executive body to increase the predictability of the governmental decision, and, as a direct consequence, this measure facilitated the access of the civil society in the decision making process.

3.4. Development of the civil society sector:

o MCPDC supported the reduction of initial patrimonio for creating an NGO, in order to encourage citizens to associate for their causes.

o Our ministry updated the situation of NGOs of public utility and proposed a new bill for improving the legal framework for this NGO category.

4. At the same time our Ministry will constantly monitor several fields related directly with the rule of law, such as:

 Allocations from the reserve fund of the government

 The way the normative acts are motivated and how the impact is taken into account

 The responsible use of Emergency Ordinance, as a tool to legislate.

 The members in the Councils of Administration for every state company;

Our mandate is to coordinate the national policy in the field of open governance and implement, together with the Prime Minister’s Office the Open Government Partnership, setting new standards in the fields of access to information and participation to the decision making.

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