• Towards a more active involvement of civil society in open government efforts

    April 11, 2018 – The European Policy Centre (CEP) launched the IRM Progress Report Serbia 2016-2017 today, at the House of Human Rights and Democracy premises. On that occasion, CEP hosted a panel discussion titled “Achievements and challenges of opening government in Serbia”. The aim of the event was to disseminate the report, to further promote OGP in Serbia and stimulate discussion on the report findings and other OGP-relevant issues in Serbia. It was also aimed to reaffirm within OGP community in Serbia the importance of an inclusive dialogue for the achievement of open government.

    Prior to the event, CEP had created an open Facebook event, while we also used our mailing list to send out the invitations. The event gathered more than 40 representatives of civil society organisations and government bodies (predominantly members of the multistakeholder forum for OGP Action Plan development and implementation).

    Milena Lazarević, Programme Director at CEP, moderated the introductory panel. The following panellists participated in this panel:

    • Bojana Tošić, Acting Director, Public Policy Secretariat
    • Natalija Pavlović Šiniković, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government
    • Žarko Stepanović, Acting Director, Office for Cooperation with Civil Society
    • Maja Stojanović, Director, Civic Initiatives

    Panellists agreed on the importance of further involvement of civil society in open government efforts and public administration reform. Ms Tošić underlined the necessity of strengthening CSO capacities to better understand the policymaking process and pointed out that a new Law on Planning System, which was based on the principles of open government, was on the Parliament’s Agenda that day.

    Ms Pavlović Šiniković highlighted the importance of increasing government’s transparency and that the digital government was one of the first visible results of the public administration reform.

    Ms Stojanović emphasized the lack of government’s dedication to budget transparency. She pointed to a problem of a still small number of CSOs involved in the OGP.

    Dragana Bajić, researcher at CEP, presented the findings and key recommendations of the IRM Progress Report.

    The second panel was moderated by Miloš Đinđić, Programme Manager and Senior Researcher at CEP. The aim of this panel was to discuss the findings. The following panellists participated:

    • Dragana Brajović, Autonomous Advisor, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government
    • Stanka Parać Damjanović, Director, Local Democracy Agency (Subotica)
    • Milorad Bjeletić, Executive Director, Belgrade Open School
    • Pavle Dimitrijević, Head of the Legal Team, Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability
    • Danijela Vučić, Director of Media and Reform Center (Niš)

    Ms Vučić and Ms Parać Damjanović, both from local civil society organisations, shared their experiences with OGP on the local level. Ms Brajović commented on the recommendations and expressed the support of Ministry when it comes to involving civil society. Mr Bjeletić noticed a low level of commitment implementation, which according to him indicated either that the government was negligent or deliberately avoiding its obligations.

    Following each of the panels, the moderators provided sufficient time for Q&A, during which the audience discussed the findings of the report and engaged in a dialogue with the panellists. Most of the talk focused on key IRM recommendations and on how the work of the multistakeholder forum could be improved.

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