Saturday, 9 October 2010

Freedom of Information and Armenian Government's Prize-Winning (but slightly mis-configured) Site


The Armenian Government website www.egov.am was recognized as the best official site by Freedom of Information Center during the annual award ceremony dedicated to the International Right to Know Day and held on September 28 at Yerevan's "Regineh" hotel.

As I chronically distrust government and authorities, the event, which was organized with the assistance of USAID and the World Bank Yerevan Office, didn't go down very well with me. "What a hell!" I thought, "Why on earth is the Freedom of Information Center giving prizes to Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian, the head of RA Government."Looking at the prize-winning site however, I found it very good - content nicely laid out, a host of possibilities for accessing government decisions, submitting tax reports, following your correspondence to the government online. Frankly, it really is the best government website in Armenia so the prize was well deserved.

Just to show how balanced I am in my evaluations, I'll add something negative ;) Turns out the SSL is slightly misconfigured, and if you usually omit the 'www' part in typing website addresses, you're likely to get this error message on Google Chrome when accessing e-gov.am. Not a big worry though and can certainly be easily fixed. I'm sure they'll start working on it this Monday.

On to other prizes Goris Municipality of Syunik region was named the most open government institution in 2010, while the civil initiative "We are the owners of this city" was recognized the most efficient in using its right to information. Aram Zaqarian, correspondent of "Aravot" daily was named as the journalist, who was the most persistent in covering the freedom of information issues, while "Right to Tell", the program of the Second Armenian TV Channel, was recognized as the most active in covering the abovementioned issues. In 2010 Hakob Tovmasian was named as the most active citizen to exercise his right to access of information. Great job, but we have 3 million more citizens who should start thinking about getting the prize next year :)

By tradition all persons and organizations, listed above, were conferred prizes of a gold key - as a symbol of openness.

The rusty lock, a symbol of secrecy, was awarded to the Municipality of Stepanavan (Lori region) - for not fulfilling the requirements of the RA Law "On Freedom of Information".

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