Governments of the Western Balkan (WB) countries achieve low scores when it comes to information provision on their performance to the public.
Assessment of availability of data on governmental results in the WB shows that there is still much to be done - from making both basic and more advanced data regularly available online for public scrutiny, to publishing reports on the work of governments in a regular and predictable way. Other than two examples which stand out, reluctance and negligence seem to prevail in communicating work results to the public.
Monitoring of availability of information included analysis of the official websites of governments, with special attention paid to regularity of publishing and updating. In addition to publishing info on activities and results, researchers analysed language clarity, level of detail and format(s) used, and gender-segregation of data. Lastly, availability of reports on realisation of broader governmental strategic plans and documents was checked.
Overall, countries in the region score positively when it comes to publishing written information on the work of governments in the form of press releases, and these are mostly written in language that can be assessed as understandable to the public. However, when it comes to publishing reports on the work of government and its results annually, there is a trichotomous practice – in three countries there is regular publishing (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro), while for the two no reports are being made available (Albania, Macedonia), or it is done in an unpredictable and irregular way (Serbia).
The level of availability of quantitative data and qualitative assessments in the government reports, on one side, and thoroughness of information on concrete results governments achieved, on the other, determined the differences among the countries. Common features for all available reports are found in the absence of gender-segregated, and data in open formats.
A considerable loophole of transparency in the WB relates to the lack of reporting on the central strategies and plans, as half of the countries scored zero in this regard (Serbia, Albania, Macedonia). This key component of government’s overall performance needs to be addressed.
At the forefront are BIH (the Council of Ministers of BiH) and Kosovo. Not only there is regular practice of publishing reports on the work of governments, but in both cases, reports provide citizen-friendly introductory remarks, qualitative and quantitative information and at least general references to the achievement of results of governments. Although governments in BIH and Kosovo do not report on specific performance indicators, they are far ahead of the rest in the WB.
Montenegro is scoring quite low almost exclusively because of the lacking effort to make available information meaningful and useful for the public. For example, despite the availability of both press releases and reports, the use of bureaucratic language is persisting, quality of information remains weak focusing mostly on the outputs, without any references to results and impact.
Lastly, Albania, Macedonia and Serbia lie at the bottom of the scale with no points scored and zero indicator values overall. For the first two, no reports on the work of governments are available at all for the monitored period (2015 and 2016). In Macedonia, for example, not even governmental work plans were published online for the same period, however the government formed in June 2017 introduced changes hopefully influencing practice of regular publishing in the future. In Albania, the only available report found online is for 2014. Practice of Serbia is irregular and confusing, as three reports on the work of government were found online and none of them published at the official website of the government.
See results by country here.