Chapter 6. Communication and information

Public communication is a means for governments to inform and interact with citizens. It enables citizens to be informed about policies and reforms that affect their lives and become engaged in policy-making processes. “When delivered strategically public communication can support better policy making and service delivery, as it raises awareness about reforms and helps to change behaviour.” (OECD, 2019[6]) Communication is therefore an essential part of open government initiatives as it can promote greater transparency, participation and accountability. Provision 6 of the OECD Recommendation on Open Government calls upon adherents to “actively communicate on open government strategies and initiatives, as well as on their outputs, outcomes and impacts, in order to ensure that they are well-known within and outside government, to favour their uptake, as well as to stimulate stakeholder buy-in” (OECD, 2017[1]). However, the importance of public communication is still not fully recognised; for example, only 10% of surveyed centres of government list the promotion of transparency and stakeholder participation as a key objective of their communication strategy (OECD, 2018[43]).

Strategic communication can be characterised as a driver of more effective communication. It is typically planned and co-ordinated at senior management levels within specialised units. Strategic communication structures have defined functions that enable an integrated and organised communication activity, which facilitate greater stakeholder engagement to help shape organisational goals. Such activities are undertaken by skilled professionals who occupy positions at various levels of organisational charts. Mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of communication activities with measurable outcomes are also envisioned under strategic communication activities, together with the employment of digital technologies to facilitate stakeholder engagement.

Lebanon has not introduced reforms for public communication or set out an overall vision that aims to promote effective communication between the government and the public. However, in the framework of the ongoing open government reforms, OMSAR and the Prime Minister’s Office have been working to integrate communication and information practices more strategically.

In Lebanon, the organisational charts of most ministries and public institutions do not include a dedicated unit for communications, and administrations in the country do not have public communication officers nor communication units within their agencies. Such functions remain centralised and managed by senior leadership: For instance, ministers are the official spokespeople and communications activities need to be cleared by the minister first.1

Most ministers hire media advisors when they take office, with the exception of a few ministries and public institutions, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Institute of Finance, which have media units. These media advisors are most often political appointees who do not fall under the permanent civil servant category. Budgets for communication activities are either very limited or do not exist at all. Alternatively, some ministries hire communication officers for donor-funded projects, who also cover the activities of the ministry. Another common pattern observed in ministries is the assignment of communication functions to either information technology personnel or employees in charge of e-services units.2

Scarce funding deters stability and continuity in the planning of communication functions. As a result, specialised training for skills development in communications has not been conducted so far for public sector employees. As public communication is not institutionalised, no legislations or policies have been developed to regulate this area. The main roles of media and communication advisors, commonly recruited by ministers, are mainly restricted to media relations and media campaigns. Such roles remain limited to developing messaging and do not include citizen insight research for engagement.

As highlighted in Chapter 4, the ongoing mapping exercise by OMSAR and the Civil Service Board to outline the organisational charts that need to be amended and to assess the administrative needs of each public entity3 could be an opportunity to introduce public communication structures and functions in the public administration. For most public institutions in the country, organisational charts have not been reviewed since their establishment. Breakthroughs in information and communication technology (ICT) have increased pressure on administrations to become more agile and citizen-centric. In light of these continuous ICT changes, administrations are expected to continue the cycles of reflection and reorganisation. As communication channels and objectives have become more complex with the development of social media and citizen engagement targets, organisational structures have become more specialised in various countries (Sanders and Canel, 2013[44]). For example, the United Kingdom has developed a Government Communication Service (GCS), which is one of 14 functions that operate across the civil service to bring together over 4 000 professionals across 25 ministerial departments (UK Government, 2019[45]). GCS staff are in charge of implementing campaigns, evaluating their outcomes, using technology to gain audience insights and promoting internal communication amongst government agencies (UK Government, 2019[45]).

As mentioned, the ongoing review of organisational charts of the whole administration in Lebanon provides a great opportunity to institutionalise public communication across the government. The redesign could introduce communication units across ministerial departments and public entities to create the institutional structure for outreach activities and greater internal co-ordination within the administration. Regarding open government initiatives, the structures, and particularly the communication officers, play an important role. Therefore, their capacity and awareness of transparency and two-way communication should be fostered through capacity building activities and guidelines.

The use of social media is of particular importance in this context. With 78% of the Lebanese population on Facebook (, 2020[46]), the use of social media could become a widespread tool to proactively inform citizens. Its ability to allow users to engage in a two-way conversation can further enhance open government principles; however, social media also bears risks related to hate speech and disinformation. Accordingly, governments are encouraged to put in place policies and guidelines for the use of social media in public communication. OMSAR has taken the first steps in setting-up communication in favour of open government through its Twitter account (@OmsarGov) and the corresponding hashtags (#OpenGov or #OpenGovLeb), as well as its Facebook account. Integrating these communication efforts strategically into the open government agenda, and providing training and guidelines on the effective use of social media, could contribute to greater transparency and dialogue.

The proactive disclosure of information, which is foreseen by Lebanon’s Right of Access to Information Law (see Chapter 3), is another critical aspect to using communication to enhance open government. The effective communication and disclosure of government and public administration information depends, however, on the policies in place. The OECD Recommendation suggests that countries should “proactively make available clear, complete, timely, reliable and relevant public sector data and information that is free of cost, available in an open and non-proprietary machine-readable format, easy to find, understand, use and reuse, and disseminated through a multi-channel approach, to be prioritised in consultation with stakeholders” (OECD, 2017[1]).

Lebanon has undertaken some efforts in this regard, including the development of a Public Sector Projects and Studies department within OMSAR, which is responsible for consolidating all studies generated from the public sector either directly or through consultants and consulting firms. These studies are classified and indexed in a database that is accessible online for researchers, scholars and interested individuals. Despite these efforts, some major impediments still exist, including the cost of accessing the official gazette, which is where Parliament publishes adopted laws (as described in Chapter 8). To enhance transparency, Lebanon could consider making the official gazette freely available. OMSAR, in the framework of the draft Digital Transformation Strategy, is also undertaking efforts regarding proactive disclosure. Under Action 9 of the strategy, the government vows to establish an open data platform,, that will enable government entities to publish high-quality open datasets. The government also promises to develop a platform,, that will be devoted to the publication of government information in order to enhance citizens’ access to information (Government of Lebanon, 2019[8]). In line with these efforts, an e-procurement portal is also under development and will soon be launched once the necessary legal framework is operationalised. The digitalisation of the administration and building the necessary skills are preconditions to render these portals effective.

The Central Administration for Statistics (CAS) could play a significant role in ensuring that public entities become more transparent and provide citizens with evidence-based information to promote a well-informed public debate. CAS is a public administration that falls under the presidency of the Council of Ministers. Its mission is to collect, produce and disseminate social and economic statistics, as well as to conduct technical supervision of statistics produced by other ministries to harmonise methods. CAS is also responsible for gathering the datasets of all public administrations, and each ministry should send all its datasets to CAS for archiving every three months. More recently, CAS has started producing time series, with 11 time series databases currently regularly updated on its website. However, it does not have a media or communications department, nor a strategy to increase traffic to its website. In addition, a lot of the data are not in open formats (mostly PDF format), which goes against the principle of open data that aims to facilitate re-use.

A major policy document that provides information about the government’s priorities and actions is the budget. Lebanon did not adopt a budget law between 1997 and 2016, with the first budget law being adopted again in 2017. The Ministry of Finance has undertaken an enormous effort to reconstruct all budgets, which were sent to the Court of Audit (which is suffering from staff shortages) for auditing and to Parliament to close the budgets. These budgets have however not yet been audited nor closed and are not accessible to the public. The only budget that has been audited is the one from 2017; however, this was neither discussed in Parliament nor made available to the public. Encouraging the publication of these documents would greatly enhance transparency and enable citizens to oversee government actions.

The Ministry of Finance, with the support of the Institute of Finance, has undertaken efforts to strengthen budget transparency by publishing the adopted Budget Law and producing citizen budgets for 2018-2020. While a citizen budget is recognised internationally as a means to facilitate citizen’s understanding of the state budget, civil society’s ability to play a watchdog function and be adequately informed about the government’s policies would be enhanced if the budget were published in an open data format (in the long-term also on the open data platform) and included explanations about budget choices and their objectives. In line with best practice and the International Budget Partnership standards, the Ministry of Finance could consider publishing the draft budget before it is formally approved by Parliament.

  • Create public communication structures, officials and a network that unites communicators across the administration. In doing so, provide them with training on information and communication practices regarding open government and the use of social media.

  • Consider making the official gazette freely available to enhance transparency.

  • Advance efforts to digitalise the administration and make public information readily available in an open, easily accessible, interoperable and re-usable format on the planned online portals ( and

  • Adopt international practices regarding budget transparency by publishing the draft budget law, the audit report and the budget law in an open data format.

1 Information collected during the peer review missions in September 2019.

2 Information collected during the peer review missions in September 2019.

3 Information collected during the peer review missions in September 2019.


[7] Government of Lebanon (2019), Lebanon Digital Transformation: Strategies to Actions.

[6] (2020), “Social Media: Use by Platform” webpage, (accessed on 2 July 2020).

[1] OECD (2019), Open Government in Argentina, OECD Public Governance Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[3] OECD (2018), Centre Stage 2: The Organisation and Functions of the Centre of Government in OECD Countries, (accessed on 29 October 2019).

[2] OECD (2017), Recommendation of the Council on Open Government,

[4] Sanders, K. and M. Canel (2013), Government communication in 15 countries: Themes and challenges,

[5] UK Government (2019), Government Communication Plan 2019/2020,

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2020

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at