CSOs Assess Implementation of the Self-Government Reform
On June 16, several civil society organizations presented their assessment reports regarding Georgia’s self-government reform implementation and the efficacy of the ongoing decentralization process. The purpose of the event was to present the joint CSO assessment on existing challenges and recommendations for fine-tuning the decentralization process. This was the first time when leading Tbilisi-based CSOs prepared assessment in close cooperation with the regional CSOs.
Key problems and challenges identified at the conference were the following:
- Segregation of competences between local and central governments – the competences are not still clearly segregated thus hindering decentralization process.
- Ensuring a transparent and competitive state procurement process – there are cases when tender requirements and conditions are tailored to specific providers that increase risk of corruption. The frequently used simplified procurement practices also raise concerns, since it allows spending funds without going through the open and transparent procedures.
- Low capacities of public officials and cases of nepotism during the recruitment process – recruitment process (examination and interviews) is sometimes closed for observers.
- Proactive publication and dissemination of the public information – some municipalities do not operate websites where they are obliged to post all public information.
- Financial independence- local self-government bodies are still significantly dependent on the central government. A formula for calculation of the equalizing transfer is very superficial and does not intend to equalize the municipalities.
- Low level of public involvement in decision-making processes – There is a distinct need to introduce the civic engagement mechanisms (envisioned by legislation) into actual practice. Any form of civic engagement is happening thanks primarily to NGOs. Both the local government and local population lack knowledge and experience about public engagement mechanisms.
In addition to the aforementioned problems, participating NGOs also spoke about positive developments in self-government reform, such as introducing direct elections of mayors and gamgebelis that would increase independence of municipalities; also adding seven new self-governing cities.
Local government representatives expressed an interest and willingness to cooperate with CSOs to enhance effectiveness of the self-government process.
The report was prepared by Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and ISFED in cooperation with three regional CSOs with financial support from EWMI ACCESS and NED. Representatives of the leading national CSOs – Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, Transparency International-Georgia, and Institute for Development of Freedom of Information also delivered presentations.