E-Openness awards for Ukrainian city councils
During the international conference in Kiev ‘Freedom of Information, Transparency, E-governance: Civic Society View’ on 15 June 2004 the first Awards for E-Openness in the Ukraine were presented to 4 city councils. The aim of the Award is to demonstrate best practices of local authorities in interaction via official web sites. The Award is called a ‘Crystal Dog’, shaped as an e-mail @ sign on top of a glass cylinder, a name-pun on the sign called ‘dog’ in popular Ukrainian.
The Crystal Dogs were presented to the Kharkiv City Council, for setting the best example in online access to official documents and financial transparency and to the Kramatorsk City Council for dealing with petitions. A third award was presented to the Lubotin Town Council for the best practice amongst small towns of online deliberations and a final award to the Solomensky District Council of Kiev City for it’s openness in interaction with users.
The conference was organised by Privacy Ukraine jointly with Internews-Ukraine and several civil society organisations, with the support of International Renaissance Foundation (Kiev) and OSI (Budapest). More than 90 participants from local authorities and Ukrainian regional civil society groups engaged in debate about the current trends, practical problems and legal obstacles for the development of the e-governance and e-democracy projects in the Ukraine. The main obstacle for e-openness in the Ukraine is the lack of appropriate legal and institutional grounds for the dissemination of public sector information via Internet.
Conference participants from local communities demonstrated numerous examples of information flow barriers established at local levels that hamper the establishment of partnerships between public bodies and local communities. For example, there is no Data Protection Act yet, but one IT-officer reported that the chief of the local council prohibited the online publication of a new act on council spending, because the act contained personal data about the recipients of medical care and publication would be a violation of data protection legislation. Another major problem is the lack of provisions regarding online petitions. Many local officials believe that the ‘Act on Citizens’ Requests’ only allows hand-signed petitions, printed on paper.
The conference participants approved of ‘Petition’, a program document to improve the openness and accountability of state agencies as well as democracy development using information and communication technology in the Ukraine.
Conference and competition for E-Openness awards
(Contribution by Andryi Payzuk, Privacy Ukraine)