Institutional reforms have improved public services access, transparency, says government official

ASTANA – Implementation of institutional reforms under the 100 Concrete Steps programme outlined by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2015 have increased the transparency of and access to public services, asserted Kazakh Minister of Information and Communication Dauren Abayev and Chairman of Government for the Citizens State Corporation Ablaikhan Ospanov, during a July 27 briefing on the topic.

Photo credit: primeminister.kz

Photo credit: primeminister.kz

“All five components of Open Government have been launched. It includes open data, open legal acts, open dialogues, open budget and evaluation of state bodies’ efficiency,” said Abayev.

Open Government is meant to ensure the transparency and accountability of state, include citizens in public decisions and increase the efficiency of public administration.

Such a system entails a move towards a more democratic state, Abayev said.

The open data platform, for instance, enables citizens to find, download and use a range of data compiled and updated by state bodies. The data can be used for research, statistical analysis and as data underpinning mobile apps, among other uses. Among the currently operating apps are Heath+, Almaty Tour Guide and TengeApp. Authorities, however, want to continue to improve how the data is presented.

“We know there are difficulties in the use of these data. Currently, we are working hard to simplify the information provided there,” the minister said.

Under the reforms, state bodies must also publish draft legal acts and bills on the open legal acts platform for public discussion, where citizens can comment and suggest amendments. A minimum of two weeks public discussion is required before an act moves to the next legislative stage.

“More than 420 acts are now available for public discussion and more than 7,000 legal acts have already been reviewed last year,” Abayev said.

An open budget, in turn, reveals information about the use of state budget and funds. Nearly 13,000 budget programmes are available for public review and the report on their subsequent allocation in 2016.

Similarly, citizens are welcomed to evaluate the work of state bodies and services through efficiency evaluation and open dialogue platform. Nearly 191,000 citizens participated in the last year, said Abayev.

At the same time, the Government for Citizens State Corporation is working to reduce common administrative obstacles to public services.

The reforms seek to transfer public services from state bodies to the corporation.

“There are 723 state services in the registry and 548 of them, or 75 percent, are provided by the Government for Citizens. We plan to increase it up to 85 percent next year,” noted Ospanov.

Government for Citizens is based on a one-stop shop principle, which enables citizens to receive all services they need in one place. Previously, citizens were required to visit multiple state bodies to obtain documents.

Operators provided nearly 37 million public services last year and 21 million during the first six months of 2017, including 14 million in electronic format, said Ospanov, adding the reform is a significant step in fighting corruption.

Abayev also noted that the government provides mobile public service centres, which travel the country to provide services to people in remote regions.