Agency for protection of personal data and free access to information endorsed our appeal against the decision of the Ministry of Interior regarding the availability of the Ministry’s direct agreements.
In July 2014, Institute Alternative submitted the request for free access to information on all public procurement contracts concluded via direct agreement in the last three years to the Ministry of Interior. In response to this request, the Ministry informed us that all direct agreements are posted on the website of the Public Procurement Administration, which is factually incorrect.
The Public Procurement Law does not stipulate the obligation of publishing direct agreements. Additionally, it does not specify that direct agreements should be concluded in exceptional circumstances only or that they ought to be explained, since they represent the least transparent process which is not preceded by public announcement. In the previous period, direct agreements have often been the subject of abuse by the contracting authorities. Thus, seven municipalities in 2013 had exceeded the legal limit for the use of this agreement while the Municipality of Plav had concluded all procurements via this type of procedure. Moreover, the State Audit Institution pointed out that the state authorities, including the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance, had exceeded their limit for the use of direct agreements in 2011, and that they provided incorrect information to the Public Procurement Administration.
In deciding on the appeal of Institute Alternative, the Agency for protection of personal data and free access to information annulled the decision of the Ministry of Interior, stating that the requested information is not publicly available, and instructed the Ministry to provide information to the applicant. Accordingly, it is important to once again urge the state authorities to fully and accurately respond to requests for access to information and thereby provide access to documents in a timely manner and prevent unnecessary proceedings before the competent Agency.
In the forthcoming period we will monitor implementation of the decision of the Agency for protection of personal data and free access to information in the hope that it will ensure more transparent, efficient and accountable work of the Ministry of Interior and other state authorities.