Failed Center for Openness and Dialogue Incorporated in Co-Governance Agency

In response to several freedom of information requests by Exit, the Prime Ministry has revealed the organizational structure of the Agency for Dialogue and Co-Governance (ABD), with has the following mission:

the direct provision of public services, to guarantee all-inclusive co-governance in policy and decision making, through interaction on the electronic platform “With you, for the Albania we love” of citizens, NGOs, and private enterprise with the state administration and governing institutions, as we as the support of projects and programs for an open society and for institutions closer to citizens, civil society, youth, and other actors, in different fields such as innovation, creativity, transparency, education, youth, science, art, culture, and vulnerable groups.

The ABD is a institutionalization of the “co-governance platform” launched by Prime Minister Edi Rama in the aftermath of the elections, through which he wants to make citizens the government’s “friend.” As we have argued before, not only does the co-governance platform bypass all legally mandated ways in which citizens already can influence government decision making (even though they are not empowered to do so), it also channels all complaints of citizens about the government directly through the Prime Ministry, thus giving the Prime Minister leverage over his own ministers.

According to the organagrom of the ABD, the co-governance directorate, responsible for running the platform, will consist of one director, 6 coordinators at the Prime Ministry, and 18 coordinators at the ministries, giving the Prime Ministry a means of surveillance and control over the ministries which ordinarily should run through the Council of Ministers, thus further limiting the independence of the ministries.

Furthermore, the ABD will fully incorporate as a second directorate the Center for Openness and Dialog (COD), a vanity project started by the Prime Minister in his first term, and which has failed on all accounts to deliver on its promise of either dialogue or openness. The government has repeatedly refused to disclose the reconstruction costs of the lower floor of the Prime Ministry, where the COD is located.

The Decision of the Council of Ministers that established the ABD has also abolished the COD as independent institution. Interestingly, the new organogram of the COD no longer includes the board, which consisted of several of Prime Minister Rama’s artistic collaborators. At the same time, the number of employees of the new Directorate for the Management of the COD is reduced from 15 to 12.

Instead of the COD board, the Prime Minister announced a new “Advisory Board” of the ADB, consisting of  “members of the corps diplomatique accredited in Albania,” “experts, academics, and professors of prestigious Albanian and foreign universities,” and “representatives of similar public or private institutions of other countries.”