|Open Government Initiative Project (OGI) and the non-profit organization Access to Public Information Program (AIP) organized a seminar on the Access to Public Information Act – Standards and Practices in the Area of Public Financial Control on November 13-14, 2003 in Mala Cerkva, near Samokov.
Twenty representatives from the central offices of PIFCA, Ministry of Energy and NAO attended the seminar. The topics of discussion were as follows: the law on Access to Public Information, state secrets, the Law on Classified information and the Law on Protection of Personal Data. The AIP legal experts, Mr. Khashamov and Mrs. Davidova discussed specific cases of access to information based on their practice as attorneys in some of these cases. The focus of the seminar was on cases and discussions. Government officials presented their arguments based on their specific experience and cases.
Activities of the public financial control institutions (NAO and PIFCA) are traditionally subject to interest from the public and media. Since the adoption of APIA in 2000 there are 10 cases of refusal of information from NAO and 29 cases from PIFCA, as reported by AIP. Because of the lack of practice, insufficient understanding of laws, and sometimes lack of willingness to share information, public institutions are not transparent and open to the public as required by Bulgarian laws. NGOs and journalists also need to understand what kind of information is most needed and can be requested. These were the major goals of the OGI-AIP seminar.
DPK Consulting launched the Open Government Initiative Project (OGI) in Bulgaria in June 2002. The project, which runs through May 2005, will strengthen the institutional capacity of the Bulgarian government to prevent corruption, enhance transparency and accountability, and promote the rule of law. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It focuses on public sector auditing, public procurement and government anti-corruption efforts. Support for civil society efforts to increase public awareness and combat corruption will be provided through a collaborative process with NGOs, government institutions, media, and the private sector.