The Bill on the Registry of Contracts will receive an encyclopaedia on its journey through the Chamber of Deputies
The ambition of the first publication of its kind is to dismiss the conventional myths and wisdoms cropping up around the bill before debate in the Lower House of Parliament.
The Bill on Registry of Contracts, which would ensure a transparent public administration, is progressing into a second reading in the House this week. Due to the plethora of superstitions and misconceptions shrouding the bill, lawmakers will receive their copies of an encyclopaedia on Tuesday morning, complied by a team of authors from the Reconstruction of the State expert group. Thus it is very likely the first bill on which a book was written even before it is passed by the Chamber of Deputies. It is entitled: An Encyclopaedia of the Mother of All Bills, its name reflecting the many dubious firsts this legislative norm has “suffered”. Besides being the most often postponed bill in the history of this House, it is, according to the authors, at the same time the most straightforward and most often debated bill (having been discussed by two cabinets and the committees of two different lower chambers and having necessitated the commission of two impact studies). In addition to 1,000 printed copies to be handed out to lawmakers, mayors and state company managers, the publication is also available in an electronic format on the nejnejzakon.cz site.
“The purpose of releasing the encyclopaedia is to stave off the recurrence of the same old objections and opt-outs that were proved senseless during dozens of meetings and debates with political figures,” says Pavel Franc, head of Frank Bold and one of the guarantors of Reconstruction of the State. “Politicians are still prepared to this day to argue that the purchase of every single bread roll must be declared according to the law—something which was never stated in the bill in the first place,” he explains.
For the public and the lawmakers to be allowed to test the depth of their knowledge of the draft bill—or to succumb to the various forms of hearsay—the encyclopaedia also includes a more lighthearted test with core questions. Authors of the publication will monitor the second reading of the bill and comment on it on the social networks with the hashtag #nejnejzákon.
“Some deputies might come forward with various improvements and opt-outs. But from the bill’s inception, improvements have mostly been a blind alley into more red tape and trouble,” says Oldřich Kužílek, co-author of the bill on free access to information and representative of the guarantor organization, Open Society.
Reconstruction of the State believes that the bill, in its present wording, is a minimalist variant of the original idea. The fundamental principles have been preserved, some objections to the original draft have been addressed. However, the bill continues to envisage a number of opt-outs and deferments which lack substance, according to the expert group. Moreover, the CZK 50,000 lower limit for contract publication presents an administrative hurdle in that it requires the appreciation of a contract without clear payment duties. The complete position of Reconstruction of the State will be available before the House goes into session.
“Parallel to the Central Register of Contracts, the Open Cities association of local governments has been working on a software, which would meet the same task for costs amounting to only around 1.5 million CZK. This goes to show the excessiveness of state administration cost estimates,” notes Martin Kameník, head of the Oživení Association that helped establish the Open Cities group.
If the bill goes through the second reading at the current session of the Chamber of Deputies, it might likely be passed in the second half of May. But it will not be fully applicable earlier than 1 July 2017, when the sanction of invalidity of unpublished contracts comes into force. Smaller municipalities are exempted from the duty for another two years.
Further information will be gladly provided by:
Reconstruction of the State spokesman for the Bill on the Registry of Contracts
tel. 777 804 658