copy the linklink copied!Executive Summary

Kazakhstan is taking continuous steps towards greater openness, striving to ensure the transparency of government-held data and proactively publishing information and official documents, including through digital channels. However, like many other countries around the world, Kazakhstan faces complex challenges on the path towards open government, which the OECD defines as a “culture of governance based on innovative and sustainable public policies and practices inspired by the principles of transparency, accountability, and participation that fosters democracy and inclusive growth.”

copy the linklink copied!Enabling policy and legal framework for transparency

The government of the Republic of Kazakhstan has expressed a strong commitment to enhancing the transparency, accountability and participation in the policy-making process to reinforce public trust and improve the quality of public services. As part of the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, the government is undertaking five institutional reforms to help the country strengthen the capacity of the state and fulfil its objective to become one of the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050. One of these five institutional reforms focuses on “Transparency and Accountability of the State” and exemplifies the administration’s commitment to open government reforms.

Kazakhstan has passed an access to information law, which is commonly recognised as a fundamental pillar of a transparent and accountable public administration. However, additional steps are required to ensure its proper implementation and oversight. For example, OECD practice suggests that, to promote the effective implementation of the law, the Access to Information Commission should have legal responsibility and operative, budgetary and decision-making autonomy, and that it should report to the legislature.

copy the linklink copied!The role of oversight mechanisms

There is no specific obligation under international law to create an oversight body such as an Information Commission, an Information Commissioner or an Ombudsman. However, these functions are exercised, with varying degrees of specialisation, by different institutions in all OECD countries. Experience generally shows that oversight institutions play a fundamental role in promoting a culture of transparency and access to information, support the implementation of related policies and legal provisions, and increase compliance. The Access to Information Commission in Kazakhstan should have a similar oversight role.

copy the linklink copied!Improving the functions of the Commission

The law establishes that Kazakhstan’s Information Commission is an administrative body with an advisory role that is not empowered to rule on individual decisions regarding the refusal of access to information. This is in contrast with all access to information commissions in OECD countries. Moreover, its modus operandi and internal functioning could be better aligned to OECD principles and best practices by increasing the transparency of its operations, creating a repository of its decisions and making these accessible to the public, drafting annual reports to be presented to the Parliament, and collaborating more with all other entities tasked with ensuring access to information.

copy the linklink copied!Recommendations requiring changes in legislation

Considering the important differences between the OECD's oversight bodies for access to information and the Information Commission in Kazakhstan, some measures are recommended in the report that would require legislative changes.

These changes would include creating a more inclusive selection of the members of the Commission by, for example, engaging more representatives from civil society and academia. Moreover, it is recommended to reinforce the professional obligations of its members by drafting a code of conduct and increasing the academic qualifications required of members.

In addition, it is recommended to consider modifying the Commission’s mandate by entrusting it with new functions, including the possibility of deciding on appeals in the event of a refusal of access to information by institutions of the executive branch.

Finally, reconsidering the Commission’s institutional positioning should be a priority. Currently, it is chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and it operates under the Ministry of Information and Communications, which do not guarantee its independence.

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