Having in mind that the database of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information (KOMSPI) is the official register in which municipalities are legally obliged to report the ways in which they publish information, it was taken as the primary source of information.
Aside from KOMSPI’s database, the website of the Ministry of Local Self-Government of RM (MLS) was also used, i.e. their interactive map of all municipalities in Macedonia as well as the Macedonian portal Macedonia Search and the U.S. search engine Google.
The main assumption of the research was that the website is a public medium that the municipality creates and administrates within its jurisdictions. Therefore, one of the basic parameters for the research was whether the legal obligation of the LGUs to use other local languages aside from the Macedonian language for official use was fulfilled in their communication with citizens via the municipal website.
The answers to the following questions for each working website were listed in a table:
- In which languages does the site work and to what extent?
- Are the information provided only static or is there a section for regular news?
- When was the website last updated and are the basic information obviously incorrect?
The absence and non-functionality of the obligatory language versions was taken as an important parameter in defining the level of functionality.
Conclusions drawn from the research:
- Many or about half of the municipalities are not using their websites to inform citizens, and about ten municipalities that have had websites have taken them down in the past few years.
- A significant part of municipalities with more than one official language do not use all the official languages for online communication, reducing the possibility for communication with all their citizens.
- It is necessary to establish and implement mandatory standards for the web presence of all public institutions, defining the minimum level of content and frequency of updates to proactively provide information to citizens about the work of the local government units.
- In order to provide public insight and to be easy to find, municipalities should establish procedures that are necessary to inform the competent state bodies about their web presence