As a subcontractor to CMF, Emerald Strategies, Inc. provided support for a U.S. AID contract to evaluate how the Kyrgyzstan Parliament measured up against global best practices for outreach, transparency and public participation activities. This was part of their Kyrgyzstan Parliamentary Strengthening Project.
Our job was to do the field work and write a report that addressed transparency and access to parliament from the perspective of comparing it to best practices in the U.S. To gather information, we made a two-week field trip to visit the emerging democracy. Interviews with parliamentary staff, selected deputies, media and others working in the governance field took place during the trip.
Six operational areas formed the focus of the report: meetings, citizen involvement, press operations, parliament debate and identity, records and both online and offline public communications.
In the review, we addressed each topic area at three levels:
Observations, which includes the salient points gained through interviews and first-hand witness of parliamentary proceedings and operations.
Impact, which discusses the effects the key observations have on parliamentary communications, transparency, and public participation.
Recommendations, which give suggestions for changes that will improve parliamentary communications, transparency, and public participation
The agency received the report through the prime contractor. A number of key findings:
- The Parliament provides almost unlimited access to the media
- The practice of conducting public hearings and roundtables with organizations, academics and government leaders is embedded firmly in the culture. It would now be impossible to imagine a major law being introduced without a public event of this nature
- The lack of access to debate records and member votes is a significant concern for transparency.
- The debate preparation and real debate from the Deputies and the organizations is less of a high-level discussion and presentation than expected
- The new, enhanced Web site promises to include many content changes. The committees and deputies will need help with their page creation
- Deputies have little editorial control over their comments in debate record. The transcription process should include the ability to make editorial changes to their comment