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Launch of the Open Government Initiative
 
On Friday, June 7, 2002 the official launch of the USAID-funded Open Government Initiative took place at the Center for Study of Democracy. The project comes as an immediate result of the Framework Agreement for Cooperation between the U.S. Government and the Bulgarian Government signed during the visit of the Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the United States in April, 2002.

The inauguration ceremony, which was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov (speech), Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, featured the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the National Audit Office of the Republic of Bulgaria. This marked the beginning of the .8 million Open Government Initiative that will be implemented in the next three years. The document was signed by Mr. Frederick Schieck (speech), USAID Deputy Administrator, and Mr. George Nikolov (speech), Chairman of the National Audit Office.

To support the Bulgarian Government's anti-corruption efforts, USAID provides technical assistance to the National Audit Office and the Public Procurement Directorate of the Council of Ministers in increasing transparency and reducing the opportunities for corruption in the public administration. The civil society component of the program will support the advocacy building and public awareness efforts of Coalition 2000, a well-known Bulgarian NGO partnership aimed at combating corruption.

At the end of the three-year period, the activities undertaken will result in greater transparency and accountability among target Bulgarian government institutions, increased public awareness of corruption, and greater activism among civic groups.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Anton Stankov (speech), the Minister of State Administration, Mr. Dimitar Kalchev, the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Mr. James Pardew (speech), Ms. Debra McFarland, Mission Director of the USAID, Members of Parliament, government representatives and non-government institutions, representatives of the business and the media.

 
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