Increasing Use of Governmental Websites as Tools for Transparency, Accountability and e-Participation
The research project examined the current level of use of governmental websites at municipal and state level (.gov.mk websites) in the areas of transparency, accountability and e-participation in decision making, and provided recommendations on how to overcome the obstacles that prevent realising the full potential of new technologies in these areas.
The extent of the use of new technologies for communication by the government bodies was not fully probed, and further research was necessary. The project examined the current practice of low use of .gov.mk websites for transparency, accountability and public consultations, and established a baseline data to be used by all efforts related to e-government development and inciting active citizen participation in decision making.
The key research questions were:
- To what extent do Macedonian government bodies use the new technologies in order to provide the citizens with relevant information and opportunities to participate in decision making?
- What needs to be done to improve the situation?
Examined aspects covered the issues of
- Basic communication: What kind of information is published on the websites and in which manner? What is lacking, in comparison to standards of sophistication used at EU level?
- Accesibility: Which languages are used? Are the websites accessible to people with disabilities?
- Transparency: in particular whether the institutions adhere to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Character
- Accountability: in particular what mechanisms the institutions use in the area of fiscal policy
- e-Participation: Are public consultation mechanisms at central and local level used and for which purposes?
The research provided comparisions with standards in these areas proscribed by national laws, and the best practices from the region and the EU. The established baseline data will be used for advocacy in order to incite the government institutions to improve their online presences, and to generate demand by the general public for proper implementation of the mechanism for public consultations.