LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT INDEX

Local Self-Government Index (www.lsgindex.org) has already gained recognition among local self-government staff and those working on Good Governance issues in Georgia, as an instrument which ascertains and assesses transparency and accountability of local self-governments, and the quality of citizens’ participation in decision making processes at a local level. The Index has been acclaimed as an innovative way to forge a systemic change for establishing transparent and accountable local governance in the country, increasing citizen participation, reducing corruption risks, and exchanging experience between municipalities.

Low level of participation in the execution of local self-governance and poor quality of awareness among citizens, in part shaped by gaps in the practice of proactively publishing information, represent some of the pressing challenges faced by Georgian municipalities. Against this backdrop, in 2015, the Center for Training and Consultancy (CTC) developed the first set of standards for the assessment of mechanisms and practices pertaining to transparency of local authorities and citizens’ participation in local processes. The standard was first tested in 8 pilot municipalities: Gori, Gardabani, Marneuli, Rustavi, Lagodekhi, Sighnaghi, Telavi and Kazbegi. The first stage of the implementation had been jointly assessed by CTC’s experts and representatives of municipalities who were actively engaged in a self-assessment dimension. Experience and lessons learnt helped CTC to further improve the standard.

 

 

In 2016, an external evaluation exercise was launched in the same municipalities. The evaluation was conducted by local civil society organizations supported by CTC. It had found certain improvements in six out of eight municipalities: “We could clearly see that the presence of standards, like this one, has helped local authorities initiate good practices and organize their work around them.” At the same time, the practice run of the first edition of the standard had demonstrated the need for further improvement and development. For instance, in the initial version, all indicators included in the standard had the same weight. However, it became evident that meeting certain requirements would require varying degree of efforts and preparedness. Therefore, each indicator had to be assigned weight proportional to these efforts. “This change would also be important for extending the standard to the national level and developing a rating system”, says Giorgi Toklikishvili, a local governance specialist and one of the initiators and authors of the Index.

After the completion of the test run of the first edition, it was decided to take it to a national level and introduce a unified national assessment system. For this purpose, the CTC led on building a partnership with the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI), Open Society Georgia Foundation and Management Systems Development Centre. The partner organizations brought in their expertise and experience to develop the second edition of the standard, a detailed assessment methodology applicable at a national level, created a national electronic support platform, and trained and retrained a team of evaluators (20 specialists representing various regional organizations). This is how the first national assessment and rating system for transparency of local self-governments were introduced to the country.

In 2017, Open Society Georgia Foundation supported the first ever national assessment exercise involving all municipalities in the country. As a result of the assessment all municipalities were evaluated based on the standard methodology and their rankings were made available to the public on a web platform. An analytical report based on the findings and disseminated among wider public drew considerable media attention. The first national assessment yielded valuable and reliable baseline data on the situation in the municipalities, which was critical for effective evaluation of progress and further dynamics.

In 2019, the partner organizations carried out the second national assessment, which proved the viability of the Index and further bolstered its importance and reputation. The partners plan to launch the national assessment biannually hoping that the instrument will be able to make significant contribution to the development of self-governance in the country. The results so far have been promising. The index indicators have already been endorsed as target indicators by the strategies for the development of high mountainous regions and decentralization. In addition, many good governance programs are now based on these indicators. These achievements, to name a few, represent solid indicators for the overall recognition and influence of the Index.  

Importantly, as compared to 2007, by 2019 an average municipal result was improved by 7 points that is, from 21% to 28%. Even though, the average score remains rather low and stands far from the highest score (100%), the introduction of the ranking system has had positive effects on a number of municipalities by fostering their motivation to fare better. Many municipalities have already expressed their willingness to introduce engagement mechanisms, increase the volume and improve quality of proactively disclosed information and make their webpages more use friendly ultimately to perform better in the national assessment and move higher on the ranking. To this end, in 2019 various municipalities have improved their ranking by 23, 24, 25, 26 and even 34 points as compared to that in 2017.

There is a wealth of evidence to prove that the Local Self-Government Index is a unique instrument which can provide invaluable support to all stakeholders in the process of decentralization and self-governance development including municipal and central authorities, international and local organizations, to identify challenges and gaps as well as best practices with regard to citizens’ participation and greater transparency, and plan effectively towards improvement.

The partner organizations believe that the development of the Index will go hand in hand with the development of municipalities. However, it is likely that the instrument in its current form will be used for six or eight years to come. At the same time, it is equally important to make efforts for promoting results of the assessment in order to make them useful and applicable to many sectors and areas.

WWW.LSGINDEX.ORG

The official web platform of local self-government index of georgia

LSGINDEX 2017

LSGINDEX 2019