In October-December 2014, the Infometer project experts audited openness level for federal executive government bodies. Within the study, three key indicators of informational openness were assessed:
1) the bodies' official websites;
2) open data placement;
3) public councils (a public council under a federal executive government body is a consultative body including civil society representatives).
Official online resources of 78 federal executive government bodies were analyzed. Final results are presented at the chart below.
Differences in evaluation rates for different information categories are caused not only by complications in implementation of various openness tools but also by subjective significance of each tool from a governmental official's point of view. Thus, rates for different openness tools can differ even for a single government body. For instance, the Federal Treasury's official website holds 17th position in the open data placement rating (with the rate of 72.8%) but 26th position in the public council's rating (21.5%); its website's informational openness amounts to 40.7% (27th position). Such a low rate results from restriction of access to such important information as that on officials' incomes: to get it, one should enter registration data (name, email) and captcha-code.
At the same time, a number of government bodies implements successfully all three key tools of informational openness. These are:
- Federal Migration Service
- Federal Road Agency
- Federal Tariff Service
- Federal Taxation Service
Each of the three openness mechanisms was initially evaluated by the project experts in order to track dynamics of government bodies' activities. Evaluation results for 2014 show that novels at official websites fall behind normative terms and governmental officials are not always informed on new requirements. Therefore, the audit included an online interaction period when audited bodies' officials could register in the Infometer online system, get familiar with initial audit results, get advice from the project experts, and amend information at their official websites.
Upon the interaction, a number of government bodies have significantly increased their informational openness rates. For instance:
- informational openness rate for the Federal Road Agency grew by 27.4%;
- open data placement rate for the Federal Migration Service grew by 38.5%;
- public council openness rate for the Ministry of Transport grew by 71.3%.
Average figures of key openness indicators' growth for active participants of the interaction are shown at the chart below:
The audit of informational openness for federal executive government bodies' official websites has revealed a number of positive trends:
1) the majority of official websites do publish basic information (such as the government body's official name, contact data, and description of the body's competence, functions, objectives, and structure);
2) most sites do meet basic technical requirements (correct functioning in several popular browsers, site map, main navigation menu at any page).
3) design is improved, websites get modern styles and feasible design solutions;
4) communication channels are developed: most websites have online feedback forms allowing to submit a question or an application without delay.
The main negative trend is lack of willing for openness in federal executive government bodies (exceptions are rare). Governmental structures publish information in order to observe formal legislative requirements rather than to increase transparency of their activities. At the same time, openness growth significantly depends not only from importance assessment for a tool to be implemented but also on active work of structural units in charge of maintenance of informational resources. Following the expert advice, they can enable compliance of official websites' contents and functionality with normative requirements and active development of the openness tools.
Full rating of informational openness for federal executive government bodies is available in the Infometer system.
15:09, 12 January 2015