Lithuania

   

Executive Accountability

#20
Key Findings
With a mixed record on oversight issues, Lithuania falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 20) in the area of executive accountability. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points since 2014.

Citizen policy knowledge is not highly developed, although public-education campaigns and efforts to improve information availability are ongoing. While the state-funded media produces some high-quality analysis, the media are in general distrusted.

Parliamentarians have considerable resources and strong formal oversight powers. The audit office’s performance has been widely praised, with the entity’s new head seeking greater engagement with citizens. The several ombuds offices have taken an increasingly proactive approach to human-rights violations, and the data-protection authority is both independent and effective.

Key political parties have shifted to increasingly democratic means of selecting candidates and making decisions. Interest groups generally have limited ability to formulate well-crafted policies.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#34

To what extent are citizens informed of public policies?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual public policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of public policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of public policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of public policies.
Political Knowledge
5
Citizens have access to some government information, but the public in large part lacks the civic awareness and policy knowledge that enables an adequate understanding of government policymaking and facilitates participation. In 2011, Transparency International indicated that 44% of citizens surveyed said there was too much information not made publicly available by state and local institutions. Only 34% of the population received information on the activities of municipalities and other local authorities in 2013.

Several initiatives aimed at improving the citizens’ access of information do exist, however. The Public Management Improvement Program is designed to achieve this goal by defining the scope and content of public information to be made accessible, and by centralizing the provision of information about the government’s performance. In addition, the Lithuania 2030 Strategy envisions the implementation of programs devoted to educating responsible citizens. Despite this, Lithuania still faces substantial challenges with regard to increasing its citizens’ participatory capacity. In its review of Lithuania’s open-government programs, the OECD recommended supporting the development of Lithuania’s civil society through capacity-building and collaboration with the activities of the newly established NGO Council, with the ultimate aim of engaging citizens more deeply in government policymaking processes. The National Audit Office recently began more actively promoting public debates on the state budget and use of tax payer money.

Citations:
Reference to the Report of Transparency International: http://transparency.lt/media/filer_public/2013/01/22/informacijos_prieinamumas_lietuvoje.pdf
Reference to the Public Management Improvement Program: http://www3.lrs.lt/pls/inter3/dokpaieska.showdoc_l?p_id=418407&p_query=vie%F0ojo%20valdymo%20tobulinimo%20programa&p_tr2=2.
OECD, Public Governance Review Lithuania- Fostering Open and Inclusive Policy Making Key Findings and Recommendations. 2015.

Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

10
 9

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 8
 7
 6


The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 5
 4
 3


The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
 2
 1

The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
Open Government
7
There are several main reporting mechanisms on the overall performance of the government and its institutions. First, every year the government presents to the parliament an annual performance report where overall performance and performance in the policy areas of individual ministries as well as thematic areas are reported. Second, the Lithuanian government publishes quarterly, semi-annual or annual reports on the implementation of annual performance priorities. Third, every year the institutions that manage appropriations from the state budget publish their annual performance reports on the implementation of strategic performance plans (including budgetary programs) and the achievement of performance targets (i.e., outputs, outcomes, and impacts). However, the National Audit Office found in its 2015 performance report that the government failed to include more than half of the outcome-level monitoring indicators whose targets were not achieved or that information on unachieved outcomes were ambiguously reported. Also, reporting on the implementation of the 2015 priorities was incomplete, with less than half of all performance results presented by the government.

The scope of information presented in the annual performance reports of Lithuanian budgetary institutions is large, but they sometimes omit important information and lack a critical assessment of organizational performance. The Lithuanian government has committed to taking action to address the challenge of incomplete, selective and biased reporting.

A open government data initiative is part of a national plan of information society development. The Ministry of Economy launched the initiative during the 2008 to 2012 government term, when the potential of opening up government data was first recognized. Parts of the necessary infrastructure have been in place since implementation of the first EU directive on public sector information. For instance, the Information Society Development Committee created a preliminary open data portal (http://opendata.gov.lt) where information on available datasets is published. The Ministry of Transport and Communications intends to spend around €4 million on the development of an advanced open data portal. In order to exploit the opportunities presented by government data, government ministries and agencies are encouraged to open up data to the public. Despite a recent increase in the scope of government data published online, Lithuanian authorities should pursue a more experimental approach to discover how data can add value to the public sector, to society and to the economy.

Citations:
Valstybės kontrolė (2016). Programinio biudžeto sistema: strateginių veiklos planų sudarymas ir įgyvendinimo stebėsena, Nr. VA-P-60-2-17.

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#9

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
9
Members of parliament as a group have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activities in an effective way. They have resources including personal staff; personnel assigned to parliamentary committees, commissions and other structures; and access to the Parliamentary Research Unit. Expenses incurred by calling experts for testimony or consultation can be reimbursed. Despite these resources, political parties are frequently unable to engage in professional parliamentary oversight, in part due to the parliament’s heavy focus on lawmaking. For instance, during its 2012 to 2016 term, the parliament passed more than 2,500 legislative acts. During the spring 2017 session, the parliament adopted 421 legal acts (i.e., about seven legal acts per every sitting), a record for a parliamentary session.

Parties that form a part of governing coalitions are often unwilling to engage in self-monitoring, while opposition parties are frequently incapable of constructive external oversight. Although the parliament does not commission independent research, it can produce internal conclusions or reports, or invite experts to various parliamentary meetings. In addition, the parliament utilizes the results of audit reports produced by the National Audit Office. It is also often the case that members of parliament employ their party colleagues as advisers or assistants on the basis of trust rather than because these individuals have a particular expertise.

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not request government documents.
Obtaining Documents
9
Members of parliament have the right to obtain information not only from the government itself but also from various government agencies, enterprises and other public-sector organizations. When carrying out their oversight function, parliamentary committees can request information and relevant documents from ministries and other state institutions. These are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame. There are some restrictions concerning the access of information considered to be sensitive for reasons of state security. In addition, information from ongoing pretrial investigations and other investigations cannot be provided if this could harm the investigations.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
10
Parliamentary committees are able to summon ministers and the heads of most other state institutions (with the exception of court judges). Invited people, which also attend parliamentary commissions and other groups, typically answer questions posed by the members of the parliament and provide other relevant information. In some cases, vice-ministers or other authorized civil servants can serve as substitutes for ministers. However, rather than being used as a forward-looking mechanism, this instrument of parliamentary control is often restricted to the explanation of government activities on an ex-post basis.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
9
When considering draft legislation, parliamentary committees can receive and consider comments from experts. Committees can also invite experts to participate in special hearings focusing on draft legislation or engage in a parliamentary oversight function. Committees can establish preparatory working groups whose membership can involve experts or scientists. The extent to which experts are involved in the activities of parliamentary committees varies by specific committee and policy issue.

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
8
There is extensive congruence between the current structure of 15 parliamentary committees and the primary areas of competence of Lithuania’s 14 ministries. The recent establishment of a cultural committee and the abolishment of a committee on information further increased congruence between the parliamentary committees and government ministries. However, there are a few mismatches. On the one hand, some ministries (Economy, Transport, and Communications) and other state institutions are monitored by a single Economics committee. On the other hand, there are several horizontal parliamentary committees (including committees on audit, European affairs and human rights). The parliament also has several standing commissions, some of which are related to policy areas assigned to the Lithuanian ministries (especially the energy commission, the most active of these bodies). Thus, the composition of parliamentary committees allows government policy to be monitored on both a sectoral and horizontal basis.

Committees meet on a regular basis, but the bulk of committee activities are related to the consideration of draft legislation. The workload of individual committees in the legislative process varies substantially, with the committees on legal affairs, state administration and local authorities, social affairs and labor, and budget and finance accounting for about 55% of the legislative review work delegated to the committees. The amount of attention given to exercise of the parliamentary oversight function depends on the particular committee.

Citations:
Alvidas Lukošaitis, “Parlamentinės kontrolės įgyvendinimas Lietuvoje: metodologinės pastabos apie trūkinėjančią “šeiminko-samdinio grandinę”//Politologija. 2007, nr. 2

Media

#31

To what extent do media in your country analyze the rationale and impact of public policies?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing public policies. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
5
A minority of mass-media organizations, whether TV, radio, print or online, provide high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. Since it is quite expensive to provide high-quality analysis within Lithuania’s small media market, the state-funded National Radio and Television is in the best position to undertake in-depth analysis of government decisions. Andrius Tapinas, a famous Lithuanian journalist and television host, launched a weekly political discussion show, which attracted about 4,300 financial supporters and thousands of viewers. Other mass-media brands tend to produce infotainment-style programming. Although the Lithuanian media are regarded as quite independent, they are not widely trusted by the public. Indeed, in September 2018, only 34.7% of respondents to a national survey stated they trusted the media.

Citations:
http://www.vilmorus.lt/en

Parties and Interest Associations

#21

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and issue agendas are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Decision-Making
7
Lithuanian parties usually restrict decision-making to party members. Although in many cases, all party members can participate in important decisions, their capacity to influence the most critical party decisions is insufficient. Some political parties are more democratically structured than others: in 2007, the Social Democratic party of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Christian Democrats and the Homeland Union were found to be the most democratic in terms of internal decision-making. The latter two parties have since merged to form a party whose leader is directly elected by all party members. In 2018, this party selected its candidate for president (Ingrida Šimonytė) during primary elections, which were open to members of the public in addition to party members. In 2017, members of the Social Democratic party of Lithuania directly elected the party’s chair for the first time in the party’s history. Gintautas Paluckas, the young deputy mayor of Vilnius, won the party election and started the process of renewing the party elite. Between 2001 and 2015, the party was dominated by members over the age of 50. As a result of Paluckas’ victory, the party leadership decided to split from the ruling coalition led by the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union. Most of the party’s members of parliament continued to support the Skvernelis government after forming the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic and Labor party and establishing a new political party.

Some other political parties are primarily used as a platform for their leaders to express their own political interests. Following the success of non-party candidates in the 2015 municipal elections, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union brought together a group of non-party candidates for the 2016 parliamentary elections. Many of these candidates, campaigning as a movement rather than a political party, won against candidates of established political parties. Many of Prime Minister Skvernelis’ parliamentary group and government ministers are not party members.

Citations:
G. Žvaliauskas, Ar partijos Lietuvoje yra demokratiškos? Technologija, Kaunas, 2007.
G. Žvaliauskas, Lietuvos socialdemokratų partijos elito kaita 2001–2015 m. laikotarpiu, Viešoji politika ir administravimas, 2017, T. 16, Nr. 1, p. 52-67.

To what extent are economic interest associations (e.g., employers, industry, labor) capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Employers & Unions)
6
Most Lithuanian interest associations, including employers’ associations and trade unions, have a rather limited ability to formulate well-crafted policies. They typically lack skilled research staff, and do not engage in cooperation with academic bodies or individual experts. The Investors’ Forum, which represents foreign investors in Lithuania, is one of the exceptions, as it has regular annual meetings with the government and provides policy recommendations based on its members’ input. This association successfully advocated the adoption of a more flexible labor code as part of the new “social model.” The Infobalt IT-industry association is also actively engaged in representing its interests in the e-governance policy area. Some economic-interest organizations, including the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (which is represented on the Tripartite Council and the European Economic and Social Committee), have improved their policy-formulation capacities. Some business associations and even individual businesses support think tanks. In 2016, the University of Pennsylvania recognized the Lithuanian Free Market Institute as being among the most influential public policy centers in Central and Eastern Europe, ranking it 12th in the region. An accord signed by the government, business organizations, and trade unions in October 2017 encourages employee participation in trade unions and the formation of business associations as well as supports the capacity-building efforts of social partners.

Citations:
University of Pennsylvania. “2016 Global Go To Think Tanks.” https://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=think_tanks

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
5
The capacity of nonacademic interest associations to formulate well-crafted and relevant policy proposals varies by group. Most lack skilled staff members and do not engage in cooperation with academic bodies or individual experts. Moreover, the lawmaking and regulatory impact assessment processes do not sufficiently ensure the participation of relevant stakeholders. Business interest groups tend to have stronger abilities to formulate policies than do social or environmental groups. The Lithuanian Catholic Church is an important player in Lithuanian politics, with its influence typically focused on a small number of policy issues. However, this interest group unsuccessfully lobbied the president to veto legislation designed to make it easier for families to access assisted insemination services. The Non-Governmental Organizations’ Information and Support Center facilitates cooperation between NGOs as they seek to represent their interests.

Independent Supervisory Bodies

#15

Does there exist an independent and effective audit office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent audit office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent audit office, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent audit office, but its role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an independent and effective audit office.
Audit Office
8
The National Audit Office is accountable to the parliament and the president. The auditor general is appointed by the parliament based on a nomination by the president. The parliament’s Committee on Audit considers financial-, compliance- and performance-audit reports submitted by the office, and prepares draft parliamentary decisions relating to the implementation of audit recommendations. The office also cooperates with other parliamentary committees. The leaders of the parliamentary Committee on Audit at one time used audit reports for political purposes, especially after an opposition-party member was appointed to head it. Over the last few years, the National Audit Office criticized the government’s draft budgets for their lack of compliance with fiscal-discipline provisions and poor allocation of government expenditure. However, these criticisms were largely ignored by members of parliament or ministerial officials. In its 2018 report to the parliament (Seimas), the National Audit Office reported that 60% of its recommendations have been implemented, 25% of its recommendations faced delays during implementation, and a remaining 15% of recommendations have not reached their implementation deadlines yet. The National Audit Office was ranked as the best state institution in 2016 by the Lithuanian journal Veidas due to its representation of state interests, competence and exceptional performance. Recently, the new head of the National Audit Office reinforced activities engaging the broader public and experts in debating the state budget, both to educate citizens and increase the political importance of the recommendations provided by the office.

Does there exist an independent and effective ombuds office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an effective and independent ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
8
The parliament has several ombuds offices, including the general ombudsmen’s office, with two appointed ombudspersons, and the special ombudsman’s offices on Equal Opportunities and Children’s Rights. These institutions supervise state institutions, with a particular focus citizens’ human rights and freedoms. They engage in public advocacy on behalf of citizens, and initiate certain actions, but as a group the ombuds offices lack sufficient legal authority to act as a single national institution for human rights. In 2017, these offices became accredited by the United Nations as a national institution of human rights matching the Paris principles. The effectiveness of these ombuds offices has depended on the interplay of several factors. First, citizens have shown at best mixed interest in pursuing complaints through these offices, although the number of complaints remained high in recent years (the highest number of complaints, 1,805, was registered in 2014, with about half of complaints typically recognized as valid). Second, the offices adopted a more proactive attitude toward investigations, focusing on the most significant violations of human rights (e.g., in prisons and other detention facilities). Third, although most of the offices’ recommendations are implemented (up to 95%), some state and municipal institutions are sometimes unwilling to take adequate action in response to the recommendations.

Citations:
LR Seimo kontrolierių įstaiga, Lietuvos Respublikos Seimo kontrolierių – Nacionalinės žmogaus teisių institucijos – 2017 metų veiklos ataskaita, 2018.

Is there an independent authority in place that effectively holds government offices accountable for handling issues of data protection and privacy?

10
 9

An independent and effective data protection authority exists.
 8
 7
 6


An independent and effective data protection authority exists, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


A data protection authority exists, but both its independence and effectiveness are strongly limited.
 2
 1

There is no effective and independent data protection office.
Data Protection Authority
9
An independent and effective data protection authority exists in Lithuania. The State Data Protection Inspectorate is responsible for the supervision and control of enforcement of legal protections for personal data. The status of the government agency gives the agency the legal and policy independence necessary for making regulatory decisions. With experience exceeding 20 years and a staff of about 30, the agency has adequate capacities and resources to focus on the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force in 2018. However, despite the allocation of two additional positions, the State Data Protection Inspectorate was unable to recruit new staff in 2017 due to a shortage of financial resources.
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