The Romanian Academic Society and the Alliance for a Clean Romania co-organized the launching of the Transparency Ranking of public institutions and the debate on “Good Governance in Norway seen from the Grassroots”. The event took place on November 27 at the Academy of Economic Studies, in Bucharest.
Good Governance in Norway seen from the Grassroots
During the event Mr. Harald Koht, university professor of political science and administration at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science, expert in good governance and former president of the Neighborhood Organizations’ Federation in Norway, talked about good governance and the history of grassroots civil society in Norway. The guest speaker addressed questions such as: When did NGOs start being active in Norway? How many such organizations are there today in this country? What are their areas of expertise? What problems in the relation with authorities do they experience? What would Romanian civil society have to do to be more successful in their relation with the authorities?
The discussion revolved around three themes: the qualities that must be shared within a team that aims to influence a particular public decision, the necessary requirements for a productive collaboration between citizen groups and representatives of the authorities, and lastly the ideal place to conduct all relevant discussions on the topics concerned.
The Transparency Ranking
On this occasion the Alliance for Clean Romania also presented the newly developed Transparency Ranking. A number of public institutions, including ministries, city halls of main municipalities, county councils, prefectures and county school inspectorates, were ranked according to their compliance with the requirements of Law 544/2001 on free access to public information. The Alliance for Clean Romania centralized the data on the existence of activity reports for the year 2013 on the institutions’ website and on how the public institutions responded or did not report to the FOIA request sent by 4000 users through the Clean Romania platform.
Out of 17 Ministries which received FOIA requests, only 9 replied, out of which six sent their reports, two claimed that they did not elaborate the 2013 activity report and one argued that its report has to be approved. Out of the remaining 8 ministries which did not reply to the FOIA request, four published the reports on their websites. The 4 ministries which neither replied nor issued the reports online are The Ministry of Culture, The Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Out of 40 city halls of main municipalities, about 43% replied to FOIA requests. Thirteen City Halls neither replied nor issued their reports online, Alba Iulia, Constanta, Calarasi, Targoviste, Satu Mare being among them. Moreover, twelve county councils, including Botosani, Braila, Brasov, Constanta, Ilfov, are in a comparable situation. A similar number of prefectures and 25 County School Inspectorates also lacked any reporting whatsoever.
Significant differences among public institutions were also noticed when analyzing the content of the reports. Rather than respecting the minimum requirements set down by law 544/2001, some reports only presented the activity of the minister or of the head of the county council or represented a collection of separate reports of the different departments within the institution. Conversely, other reports, notably that of the Sibiu City Hall, or of the Ministry of Health contain information on the institution’s goals and on the institution’s documented achievements for the past year.