A public information database Opendata.ge created by Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) is expanding and becomes a single public information portal for several NGOs. Media.Ge has spoken to the head of IDFI management and project director, Levan Avalishvili, regarding the concrete changes planned and the reasoning behind the IDFI’s decision.
Opendata.ge is expanding and you’re planning a number of changes with reference it. What exactly are those changes?
Renovated Opendata with totally new structure and design will be launched in the nearest future, accommodating information requested not only by us, but also by others. The databases of four organizations are going to merge- ours, Georgian Young Lawyers Association’s (GYLA), Transparency International Georgia’s (TI Georgia), and Green Alternative’s. All four organizations will upload the requested information on that single database.
What’s your reasoning behind the decision regarding the expansion, and inclusion of other organizations?
It’s a successful project. A great many people use it, so we came to a conclusion it would be a good thing if NGOs requesting public information merged their capabilities.
By creation of a single database we’re providing access to the information requested by these four big organizations, and the information itself becomes more complete.
You’ve called the project successful. Summing up the three year’s work, what would you call the most important part of it, what’s the uniqueness of the project?
It’s hard to praise one’s own project, but when we were beginning there was the situation around the freedom of information was more difficult. Many organizations and media outlets were doing requests of public information, but requesting information from all agencies and its publishing it in a single database was a new approach. I believe the reason it has yielded a successful outcome was because the website has more than 100 thousand unique visitors. Now, when the databases merge, it will become more complete, providing a good platform for publicity.
What are the results of the existence of such database, can you recall concrete examples when something changed after you had given publicity to certain information?
This three-year history has many interesting moments. In the beginning we were only publishing information, paying less attention to analyzing. After employing the analytical side we created a blog, which gave us greater results. We often publish things that immediately cause reaction, for instance, the publication of bonuses of 2012-2013 has changed approach to bonuses, when Davit Usupashvili came out and abolished the given practice in the Parliament by his order.
Most recently we’ve have published information regarding the assignments of the Ministry of Culture, which also drew reaction on the part of the government. The same happened after publication of information regarding the building of the Parliament and a probe carried out in the Ministry of Internally Displaced persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia- there many such facts to recall.
Every year you name most closed and open agencies. In 2013, the given event with the Prime-Minister was attended by the vast majority of the government, there were members of the parliament as well. The previous award ceremonies weren’t that impressive.
It’s true, however, the last awarding coincided with the arrival of a new government, and brought them good results. The situation was indeed changed. The government defined public information as priority, which is a welcoming fact. Nonetheless, let’s see how they will continue their job and keep the freedom of information a priority.