Empowering Civil Society Organizations for Improved Government Digital Transparency Innovation for Change Global

In order to protect and promote rights to information in in light of the ICT development and maintain civic space in digital world, it is fundamentally important to arm the ‘watch dogs’ with reliable tools. According to IRIM’s experience in Mongolia, generic assessment tools developed by international organizations need to be tailored to fit the specific needs of particular countries. Also, experts’ survey approaches of these tools often undermine real challenges and gaps in digital transparency.

This project would launch the Digital Transparency Index (DTI) to assesses and quantitatively compare the digital transparency status of participating countries or organizations in order to reveal the pros and cons of their digital information dissemination. The DTI rates countries or organizations relative to one another, but is not an absolute measurement of transparency of those bodies. The index should be used to reveal the pros and cons of information dissemination digitally by each country or organization on the basis of comparative analysis in order to give a deep understanding of their own advantages and weaknesses.

This project intends to re-invent assessment tools with comprehensive indicator framework for the CSOs through which government digital transparency (government open data) could be promoted with active monitoring and recommendations. Through these enabling tools for the CSO IRIM believes that government accountability will be promoted; widening civic space in government decision-making on the Government’s digital platforms.

Direct beneficiaries of this grant will be CSOs, members of the Central Asian Hub. Beneficiaries will obtain up to date assessment tool and manual – developed with international best practices, while applied to the local and regional environment – for monitoring government digital transparency in their respective countries.

The project could continue with further capacity building on practical skills on how to use the assessment tools to monitor, evaluate and promote rights to information. This will ensure that their knowledge and skills can be passed through other CSOs and community groups in every country of the region, especially to the CSOs in rural areas and other sectors.

Eventually, applying these tools and providing evidence in government digital transparency, Central Asian Hub can contribute to the global knowledge of the open government data in particular and to e-government in general.

Results

In 2019, the Digital Transparency Index was piloted in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. After that, the methodology was finalized. Eighty one official government organizations of Mongolia planned to be tested this year.

Challenges

Digitalization and ICT usage are rapidly covering every corner of the globe and reshaping the traditional business-as-usual routines of government, private sector and the public. With the rise of ICT usage – from 1.9 billion people in 2010 to 3.3 billion in 2016 (ITU, 2018) – it is inevitable that every sector of society needs innovative adaptations to accommodate change, particularly within government services.

Most important in ICT development is its capability of enabling government transparency and promoting rights to information; regardless of remoteness or geographical barriers. UN’s E-Government Survey 2018 Report indicates that digital use increases social inclusion; delivering services with lower costs (UN, 2018). Therefore, digitalization broadens civic space and civic engagement in government decision-making. According to the e-government readiness measurement, ICT enables the following aspects of governance:

Government open data (transparency)
E-service delivery
E-participation and consultation
However, the lack of application for ICT technology, caused by poor political commitment, public mistrust limits policy environment and social and technological infrastructure, therefore undermines the potential for promoting good governance and civic engagement; endangering civic rights and shrinking civic space.

IRIM has been assessing government agency website transparency since 2014 through a web monitoring survey every year to evaluate transparency levels of the government’s organizations. It did this by monitoring the official websites of governmental organizations with the goal of improving the transparency in their operations and to monitor the implementation progress of the Government Resolution.

Why is this innovative

This is a digital tool that is solely dedicated to measure transparency at regional or international levels. The design of the assessment manual also focuses into readiness for transparency which gives insights to understand what affects the current level of transparency in government organizations.

Other tools

Digital Transparency Index