to December 1999, a special delegation from Chicago-Kent College of
Law assessed Albania's current legal information structure and recommended
ways to increase governmental and private access to laws, decrees,
and judicial decisions through both printed and electronic means.
The project was premised on the fact that government officials
throughout the country should be able to refer to official versions
of agency regulations and government decrees to guide them in compliance
with current laws and policies, thereby enhancing consistency in application
of laws between Tirana and outlying regions.
Further, businesses both in and outside of Albania will benefit
from easier access to laws and judicial decisions.
This access will enhance the predictability of the legal environment
in which commercial transactions take place and in which democratic
institutions can take hold.
During the first
phase of the assessment, Chicago-Kent studied Albania's existing legal
information system, including the Constitution, laws, resolutions,
administrative orders, regulations, instructions, judicial decisions,
and other legal decrees. After
extensive interviewing, the special delegation assessed the needs
of governmental officials in various ministries, judges, legal educators,
attorneys, and businesses for current legal information.
The team investigated ways the Official Gazette and other legal
materials have been disseminated across the country and reported on
the extent to which the private sector has collected legal information
and packaged such materials for sale.
this initial phase of the study, the team evaluated Albania's technological
infrastructure to determine what is necessary to permit electronic
the infrastructure (secure lines, etc.) and the technological sophistication
of the population were carefully addressed, recognizing that security
is less of an issue for public documents. Finally, the delegation
forecasted the spread of computer literacy throughout the region.
the second phase of its evaluation, the Chicago-Kent team formulated
recommendations as to how to increase access to legal information
in both printed and electronic formats. With respect to the government publication center, the team
considered which laws and judicial decisions should be published and
studied whether the Official Publication Center can satisfy the increasing
workload as more regulations and judicial decisions are published.
The EUís pledge of resources to upgrade printing and computer
capacity assisted in fashioning the delegation's recommendations to
reflect planned enhancements. They then considered the question of the optimal mix between
bound volumes and paper supplements, and recommended indices where
appropriate. Consideration was afforded to whether the official journals
should be published in English as well.
In addition, they consider whether it was advisable to retain
a partial monopoly for the government publication center. Additionally,
the team assessed the relative costs of the various options discussed.
Chicago-Kent's delegation studied the Albania's legal information
distribution system. The
Official Gazette has been disseminated both through normal postal
channels as well as by private distribution service.
It was understood that there have been serious delays, both
because of the inconsistent service of the distribution providers,
and because there has been insufficient study of which government
offices should receive priority.
Accordingly, the team assessed which government offices should
receive the documents, and whether the distribution services should
be contracted out to the private sector.
They also assessed the pricing system for these documents,
e.g., whether there should be a tiered system of free access within
the government, some charges to schools and libraries, and a third
charge to the private sector.
addition, Chicago-Kent proposed a classification scheme for the laws,
which will enhance their transparency.
The same classification system can govern both printed and
electronic versions. The
classification system will include reference to the entity formulating
the law as well as to the general subject matter.
Citizens reading the laws should be able, at a minimum, to
determine immediately whether the law was passed at the federal or
municipal level. The
classification system from civil law countries such as Germany and
Italy will be studied and can possibly be adapted to fit Albania's
Chicago Kent prepared recommendations to simultaneously publish laws,
regulations, decrees, and judicial opinions in an electronic as well
as printed format. The
electronic format should promote greater coordination among government
agencies, and allow disparate government offices to work more closely
together in fields such as law enforcement.
In addition, the electronic format should eventually permit
more businesses and private individuals to learn of government laws
and judicial decisions, thus paving the way for a more stable society.
That additional transparency should contribute to an atmosphere
that can promote greater business investment.
to implement the electronic format were considered, and precedents
from other countries such as Bosnia, Poland, and Macedonia were studied.
For dissemination of final laws and decisions, the Internet
ultimately may be the best choice.
Publishing such laws and decisions on the web permits anyone
with access to the Internet to search the legal database instantaneously
and be assured of finding the most up-to-date version.
The delegation considered the feasibility of creating mirror
sites in both Albanian and English.
In addition, they studied whether current materials existing
in electronic format can be integrated into the new format.
the current lack of access to the Internet in Albania, however, an
intranet may well prove the best route as an initial step.
Government agencies connected by an intranet, for instance,
can more readily communicate with each other to obtain the most recent
available judicial decisions, regulations, and laws.
That same strategy might work nation-wide, by allowing access
to laws to anyone using public sites linked to the intranet across
the country, whether at the university in Tirana or in public governmental
buildings in Durres or Kukes. Different levels of access to information on the intranet can
be provided to protect sensitive information disclosed to government
the laws can be made more widely available through CD-ROMs, with a
mechanism suggested for permitting updates to the information contained
on the disks. The team
recommended a pilot program to test the utility of the CD v. intranet
plan to promote greater access.
mapped out a strategy to attain the ends recommended.
The consultants estimated the costs to implement each part
of the proposal. In particular, they considered which personnel can best accomplish
the steps recommended, and whether outside consultants would be needed.
In addition, they recommended appropriate training for government
personnel who would use and help implement the system and charted
the anticipated hardware and software costs.