Since June, 2011 the Eidos Centre has been conducting the All-Ukrainian monitoring of the local implementation of norms of the “On the Access to Public Information” Law. In September-November of 2015, we conducted the most complex and extensive research on the openness of local authorities.
120 city councils were monitored all over Ukraine (5 city councils in each region of Ukraine). Each council received 5 types of requests. 405 letters of response were received. A ranking of the most and the least transparent city councils was compiled based on those letters. Furthermore, the contents of council websites were estimated using both quantitative and qualitative measurements.
Thus, an average ranking of openness and transparency varies in a wide range: from 1,78 points to 4,69. The three leading regions turned out to be Dnipropetrovsk, Volyn and Khmelnytskyi. Unfortunately, even the leading regions would be described as “insufficiently open”. Zhytomyr, Luhansk and Kirovohrad regions ended up as outsiders and were considered as “partially closed”.
The research has shown that every fifth official website of Ukraine’s small town has no information about the address, phone number or email address of the council. State of affairs with the contact information of the council officials is even worse: only every eighth mayor has an email address. We also encountered an issue with invalid email addresses – emails to nine city councils were automatically returned back to us.
Throughout five stages and ten weeks of monitoring that started in September of 2015, the average estimate of the openness of local authorities in Ukraine was determined at 3,11 points. It means that, from the access to public information viewpoint, the local government bodies in Ukraine are currently extremely closed.
After a general report had been published, every region received recommendations on increasing openness together with a specifically prepared textbook “How to secure access to public information: a cheat sheet for information providers” from the Eidos centre experts.
Within the framework of the project, a website “To be aware in order to act” (acces-info.org.ua) has been updated. With a help of simple website tools, users can now easily denounce the violation of the Law “On the access to public information” and inform the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner about the issue. Complaint templates may also be found on the website. They are designed for a large range of violations. Now, in order to create a complaint, one simple needs to fill in a few passages using website cues and then download the finished complaint.
The map of the law infringements is also available on the website. The users can add information about declined information requests or about inappropriate information to the map. The Eidos Centre activists will compile the map data, process it and send it to the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, which is responsible for the violations of the right to access information.
In consequence, the violated right will be restored (respective information will be provided) or the administrative penalties will be imposed on the offender possessing public information in question. The website also contains a range of useful data compiled over more than four years of analysis of the Law implementation on the local level (textbooks, monitoring, methodology etc.).