Openness represents a key condition for democracy - since it allows citizens to receive information and knowledge necessary for equal participation in political life, effective decision-making and holding institutions accountable for policies which they conduct. Institutions worldwide undertake specific activities with the aim to enhance their transparency and accountability before the citizens.
Open governance is based on four organizational principles: transparency, accessibility, integrity, and awareness. These principles apply to all branches and levels of power, from the central executive power to the local self-government, the Parliament and the judiciary.
The Index of Openness is a composite indicator that measures the degree to which governments in the Western Balkan countries are open to citizens and society and is designed in order to define to which degree citizens of the Western Balkans receive opportune and understandable information from their institutions.
In order to measure the degree of institutional openness, the ACTION SEE partners, adhering to international standards, recommendations as well as examples of good practice, assessed institutions through special quantitative and qualitative indicators, which assess institutions on the basis of: access to information on official websites of institutions, quality of a legal framework for individual cases, other sources of public informing and questionnaires delivered to institutions.
The responsiveness of institutions to the questionnaires was an additional indicator for their openness. Plenty of institutions scored negatively on indicators due to their non-responsiveness, which is also important to mention for two reasons: first, that institutional responsiveness is an indicator on openness itself, and second, that institutions' non-responsiveness has affected their index scores negatively because they were automatically assessed with 0. Additionally, some of the indicators could’ve been assessed positively only if the existing laws were implemented.
The assessment was conducted in the period from December 2017 to the end of February 2018. On the basis of the monitoring of data and the findings, a set of recommendations and guidelines dedicated to institutions was developed based on the research results. The recommended steps for each category of institutions are made on the grounds of indicators that were not entirely fulfilled. Additionally, since some of the categories of institutions were assessed, i.e. executive agencies, local self-government, courts and public prosecution offices, the recommendations and action steps for these institutions are general for the whole group of institutions.