Open Parliament: How to use this opportunity?

Kyiv, 13 July 2016 - Main instruments for engaging citizens to the parliamentary process developed by the Open Parliament initiative, new opportunities of access to the public information, and analysis of results of MPs' activity over the fourth session of the 8th convocation with regard to open parliament have been presented.

28305533255 f02262777a o"Setting two goals: 1. Responsibility of authority and deputies through transparent actions, and 2. Providing citizens with the instruments of control and participation in political process, NGOs with the assistance of the UN Development Programme have drawn up an Open Parliament Action Plan. I am very glad that MPs, VRU Secretariat, and the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine have contributed to its implementation, so we have got first results after five months since the initiative was launched," said Natalia Vatamaniuk, Open Parliament initiative coordinator.
As a result of cooperation between the MPs, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the VRU Secretariat and other governmental authorities, Civil Network Opora, CHESNO movement, Transparency International Ukraine, the Eidos center, and the Media Law Institute, the Open Parliament Initiative managed to achieve a lot for the first months of hard work:
- publication of MPs' inquiries and responses to them on the VRU website
External visitors of the Verkhovna Rada website have access to the MPs' inquiries in a scanned form (6,566 out of more than 8,000) and to the responses to them (all 3,478 are available). The Supervision Department which administers this resource is planning to publish the rest of inquiries shortly (delay is caused by the processing of personal data);
- development of the mechanisms for publishing MPs' appeals
The system "MPs' inquiries" publishing the texts of the inquiries on the website was launched on 8 April, 2016 (provided that every MP gives their consent). So far, 66 MPs have given their consent to the publication of their inquiries;
- adding a section "Progress" to the information cards of draft laws on the VRU website: it will cover the "history" and the results of progress of the draft laws. (see an example here);
- providing special rooms at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine where the persons who requested public information would be able to work with the documents
The addresses of such rooms: 3 Sadova St., office 820, office 628, 6-8 Bankova St., office 202, 18/2 Hrushevskoho St., office 33;
- publication of the staffing table of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat and, partially, of the financial information
The information has been published as open data on the website It is being negotiated whether it could include the names of the employees as well.
- development of a separate Open Data Portal of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Currently, the Open Data Portal of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine includes the following data sets in the formats csv, json, and xml: MPs (ІІ– VIII convocation), draft laws (III–VIII convocation), legislative framework, plenary meetings (III–VIII convocation), financial and administrative information, and organizational structure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat; as of July 11, 2016, about 400 datasets have been published.
- development of additional resources on the activities of the MPs, legislative process and a mobile application "Zakonoproekt"
With the help of, it is possible to find out and analyze whether the MPs vote consistently for the draft laws on a particular topic (e.g. "on open data", "on visa-free regime", "President's political course"); whether the MPs are regularly attending plenary meetings; whether the faction is disciplined. The resource covers all votes of the Ukrainian Parliament of the 8th convocation since November 2014; all data have been collected from the official portal of the Verkhovna Rada.
28024023450 6b41b63931 oMobile application "Zakonoproekt" allows to filter the draft laws by the specialized committee or by the initiator and to track changes for each specific draft law. Users will receive information about the status of selected draft laws: registration of draft laws, receipt of committees' opinions, the results of voting at the session hall, and final adoption of the law.
CHESNO has also presented the following instruments: 'Piano players' (wall of shame for the MPs who have violated the principle of personal voting); Interest groups (data visualization of joint initiation of draft laws by MPs) to help citizens navigate the policy domain and seek ways to influence it. Reception offices (interactive map of public reception offices of MPs). A similar instrument – an All-Ukrainian map of contacts of parliamentary parties and MPs - has been developed by Civil Network OPORA. You can view the list of contacts in a text format or download the list in a table form for easy work with the information.
"On the whole, owing to the implemented solutions, the number of visitors of the official website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (especially of such sections as "Legislation of Ukraine", "Draft laws", "Electronic record of plenary meeting", E-petition", "Open Data Portal" and others) reached over 7 million sessions and over 22 million page views in April. According to independent experts, these statistical data make the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine one of the leaders among the national parliaments," said Oleksiy Sydorenko, Head of Computer Systems Department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat.
An active information and advocacy campaign is in progress to support the draft law No. 1895 which introduces sanctions against non-personal voting of MPs.
"Open Parliament will help to overcome the problem of non-personal voting. If the website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine published the information on who used the voting cards of other MPs, we could systematically track not only 'piano players', but also those deputies who give away their cards to colleagues," said Pavlo Myronov, analyst of CHESNO movement.
28201345702 30095f80df oThe initiative is planning to develop a Communication strategy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. "It is extremely important to engage NGOs into the development of Parliament as an institution. So, together with the permanent staff of the VRU Secretariat and MPs, we have started work on a comprehensive communication strategy for the Parliament. Our goal is to enshrine such objectives and instruments of their implementation in this document, so that to allow our legislature to work more effectively and to communicate as a partner with external audiences, to position the Parliament as a powerhouse of reforms in Ukraine and, finally, to establish internal communication", says Tetiana Semiletko, lawyer of the Media Law Institute.
Today, Ukrainian parliament is much more open that it used to be. However, it was the Chairman who personally decided to make it so open, therefore, should another chairperson be appointed, there might be a rollback. To prevent this, a corresponding law shall be adopted. MP Serhiy Leshchenko talked about that at the conference at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. "It is necessary to adopt the law No.1591 which ensures that information about the activity of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is open and accessible. MPs have failed to adopt it so far, saying that personal data should not be disclosed. However, it is not the personal data, but financial information only that is disclosed," said Serhiy Leshchenko. He stressed that open parliament is a component of the anticorruption reform.