State Audit Office (SAO) created an innovative analytical platform – Budget Monitor within the scope of the OGP Georgia Action Plan 2016-2017, which offers an opportunity to the general public to get comprehensive information on the state budget, issues related to the public resources management, audit findings, issued recommendations and the status of their implementation. The platform also provides each citizen with the opportunity to address SAO concerning the gaps in public finance management and participate in drafting the audit plan for the next year.
Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency (GIFT) award was given to Budget Monitor at a regional OGP meeting in the US in 2017 as an innovative web platform for transparency and civic engagement. Budget Monitor also received an international digital innovations award in the category of civic engagement in public finance. The contest was conducted under the World Summit Awards (WSA) auspices, a global platform for cutting-edge examples of how ICTs can significantly impact society. Also, within the scope of the 10th Anniversary Regional Conference "GITI 2017" of Georgia’s Cyber Security and Information Technologies Development, Budget Monitor became the winner of the Georgia’s IT Innovation (GITI) award.
To increase civic engagement and the Budget Monitor platform's efficiency, the SAO considered the OGP Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) recommendation and undertook the responsibility within the Action Plan 2018-2019 to implement a mechanism for feedback on citizens’ appeals and messages. This will render it possible for the citizens to track the status of response to the appeals and messages (including anonymous).
Outcome: Promotion of better management through citizen participation in the oversight of public finances is ensured.
Timeline: Start date - January 2018, End date - December 2018
OGP Thematic Areas: Transparency, Accountability, Innovation and Technology, Engagement
Lead Agency: State Audit Office
State Audit Office developed a module for feedback on messages received from the citizens to Budget Monitor at the end of 2018. At the beginning of 2019, the module was tested, and its features were enabled.
Interestingly, in 2018-2019, up to 100,000 visitors visited Budget Monitor, out of which more than 20,000 were new users. The average stay of the visitors on the platform has grown from 2.26 minutes to 6.45 minutes. This fact demonstrates that if the users visit the platform to find out some specific information that interests them, they stay at the platform considerably longer to also get acquainted with some other information.
At this point, work is underway to fully upgrade the budget monitor, the main purpose of which is to reflect the experience accumulated during the three years of functioning of the platform and fully integrate the feedback mechanism in the portal. Upon the activation of the updated version of the platform, the feedback module on the messages will also become available to the general public. At the moment, Budget Monitor features are being updated, and based on the progress achieved so far the work will be completed by the end of 2020.
Moreover, eight working meetings were conducted regarding the Budget Monitor with the Parliament (members of the Finance and Budget Committee), media, public sector, and academia representatives. The fundamental goal of the meetings was to introduce the products and results of the State Audit Office, including findings and recommendations within the conducted audit; systematic gaps in the public finance management process and the ways of their eradication; Budget Monitor features, information published on it, practical usage, etc.
The meetings resulted in the increased knowledge of the SAO activities and its primary activities. The participants also gained hands-on experience in using Budget Monitor in their activities.
State Audit Office actively promoted Budget Monitor in social networks throughout 2019. The information published on Budget Monitor was presented to the general society in a visually interesting and perceivable way. Eventually, media interest, engagement, and use of the information published on the platform increased significantly.
According to the Secretariat's assessment, the commitment is mostly implemented within the timelines set by the action plan, as the mechanism of feedback on citizens’ appeals and messages had been developed and is functioning in a test mode, although it is not yet publicly available. As far as the agency is concerned, the feedback mechanism will be available immediately upon completing the updated version of Budget Monitor portal by the end of 2020.
Contact point: Tsotne Karkashadze - Head of State Budget and Strategic Analysis Department
11.1. Creation and introduction by the Budget Monitor of a feedback mechanism for citizen notifications
11.2. Organization by the SAO of 5 working meetings at least with different focus groups for raising awareness.