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Local transparency index - LTI

Local transparency index - LTI

In the past decade, Transparency Serbia has been dealing with various aspects of local-self-governments' transparency - public debates, free access to information, local budgets, transparency of election of public officials in local public enterprises etc. Transparency is recognized as one of the most powerful tools for fighting corruption, and lack of transparency at all levels of government in Serbia  had been noted in past researches and studies, either by Transparency Serbia, or other organizations, institutions and authorities. Regarding local authorities, major problems were identified in the areas of publishing information on the web sites of local governments, the content and accuracy of information booklets, presenting information about budget, about local utility companies, organizing public debates.

In 2014. Transparency Serbia decided to make a comprehensive study on the state of transparency in the work of all local governments. It is something that was never done in Serbia.  Project "Local Government Transparency Index 2015" was supported by Anti-corruption Agency, Ministry for Administration and Local Self-government and Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, and financed by the British Embassy.

In March 2016 Transparency Serbia completed this project, after evaluating and ranking all Serbian municipalities (168) by transparency.

First of all, Transparency Serbia established methodology for measuring the Local Government Transparency Index (LTI).  LTI was measured by questionnaire with 87 Y/N questions, indicating existence of good regulations and practices from several areas (transparency of local assembly and mayor's work, budget, citizens friendly local administration, free access to information, public procurement, information booklet, public utility enterprises and public institution's transparency, public debates, public competitions, plans and reports, anticorruption mechanisms etc). Data for these indicators was collected through desk research, FOI requests (more then 500) and visits to all 168 municipalities (more than 12.000 km).  After completing research and evaluation, TS wrote and sent analyses to each municipality on how to improve its transparency, and produced analysis identifying systemic flaws and containing recommendations for improvement of transparency (and, consequently, of LTI). The latter analysis was sent to all municipalities and to Anti-Corruption Agency, Ministry for Local Administration, Direction of e-government, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Anti-corruption Council and Commissioner for Information of Public Importance in order to invite them all to contribute, in their fields of jurisdiction, to eliminate barriers for improving transparency and accountability of local government.

TS organised workshops with local governments on improvement of transparency. It is very important to note that several municipalities accepted some of the TS recommendations within the process of data collecting, changed some of the procedures, and thus immediately improved their LTI. Dozens of municipalities vowed to accept recommendations and to improve their transparency in months to come. Representatives of municipalities which attended meetings with TS confirmed that ranking also initiated a competitive spirit between the neighboring  municipalities, which will certainly have a positive effect on further improvement of transparency.

Final conference, organized on March 22nd 2016, brought together representatives of state administration, CSOs, media, independent authorities, international organizations: Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Serbia, Minister for State Administration and Local Self-government, Director of the Anticorruption Agency, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Representative of the Directorate for e-Government, Representative of the Anticorruption Council, mayors of best ranked municipalities.

TS also organized six round tables with local CSOs and media about LTI, pointing out importance of monitoring if local authorities maintain the level of transparency, and importance of making pressure to increase the level further.  Local CSOs and media were also invited to report to TS (and to address public)  if some municipalities made claims in their responses to TS which do not match the real situation, or if some norms, evaluated as positive, are not implemented in the practice. Couple of such reports were made to TS and those will be treated thoroughly in next LTI evaluation. Finally, several local CSOs approached TS for support and cooperation in small scale projects, regarding local transparency, they wish to develop, based on LTI methodology. TS responded positively, as we are ready to involve in such projects in order to support local CSO to go even further and deeper (as they will focus on one or several municipalities), but to maintain quality of LTI methodology, which is TS's brand.

As for LTI, covering all 168 municipalities, and advocating at national level, TS hopes that LTI evaluation and ranking will become traditional, annual.  Namely, this is important in order to make additional pressure on municipalities lagging behind in the area of transparency, and to recognize efforts by those which improved their transparency, and to encourage them to make additional action.

This way LTI would become mighty tool for improving transparency of local administration. It should be noted that, once higher level of transparency of local administration is reached, it will increase demand and expectations of the public (citizens, media, local CSOs). Therefore, the effect cyclic LTI measuring, ranking and recommendations’ implementation has long-term effect.

All data, interactive map of all municipalities with their results, and analysis (in Serbian), on TS web site: http://transparentnost.org.rs/index.php/sr/istraivanja-o-korupciji/LTI

 

 

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In the past decade, Transparency Serbia has been dealing with various aspects of local-self-governments' transparency - public debates, free access to information, local budgets, transparency of election of public officials in local public enterprises etc. Transparency is recognized as one of the most powerful tools for fighting corruption, and lack of transparency at all levels of government in Serbia  had been noted in past researches and studies, either by Transparency Serbia, or other organizations, institutions and authorities. Regarding local authorities, major problems were identified in the areas of publishing information on the web sites of local governments, the content and accuracy of information booklets, presenting information about budget, about local utility companies, organizing public debates.

In 2014. Transparency Serbia decided to make a comprehensive study on the state of transparency in the work of all local governments. It is something that was never done in Serbia.  Project "Local Government Transparency Index 2015"[1] was supported by Anti-corruption Agency, Ministry for Administration and Local Self-government and Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, and financed by the British Embassy[2].

In March 2016 Transparency Serbia completed this project, after evaluating and ranking all Serbian municipalities (168) by transparency.

First of all, Transparency Serbia established methodology for measuring the Local Government Transparency Index (LTI).  LTI was measured by questionnaire with 87 Y/N questions, indicating existence of good regulations and practices from several areas (transparency of local assembly and mayor's work, budget, citizens friendly local administration, free access to information, public procurement, information booklet, public utility enterprises and public institution's transparency, public debates, public competitions, plans and reports, anticorruption mechanisms etc). Data for these indicators was collected through desk research, FOI requests (more then 500) and visits to all 168 municipalities (more than 12.000 km).  After completing research and evaluation, TS wrote and sent analyses to each municipality on how to improve its transparency, and produced analysis identifying systemic flaws and containing recommendations for improvement of transparency (and, consequently, of LTI). The latter analysis was sent to all municipalities and to Anti-Corruption Agency, Ministry for Local Administration, Direction of e-government, Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Anti-corruption Council and Commissioner for Information of Public Importance in order to invite them all to contribute, in their fields of jurisdiction, to eliminate barriers for improving transparency and accountability of local government.

TS organised workshops with local governments on improvement of transparency. It is very important to note that several municipalities accepted some of the TS recommendations within the process of data collecting, changed some of the procedures, and thus immediately improved their LTI. Dozens of municipalities vowed to accept recommendations and to improve their transparency in months to come. Representatives of municipalities which attended meetings with TS confirmed that ranking also initiated a competitive spirit between the neighboring  municipalities, which will certainly have a positive effect on further improvement of transparency.

Final conference, organized on March 22nd 2016, brought together representatives of state administration, CSOs, media, independent authorities, international organizations: Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Serbia, Minister for State Administration and Local Self-government, Director of the Anticorruption Agency, Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Secretary General of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities, Representative of the Directorate for e-Government, Representative of the Anticorruption Council, mayors of best ranked municipalities.

TS also organized six round tables with local CSOs and media about LTI, pointing out importance of monitoring if local authorities maintain the level of transparency, and importance of making pressure to increase the level further.  Local CSOs and media were also invited to report to TS (and to address public)  if some municipalities made claims in their responses to TS which do not match the real situation, or if some norms, evaluated as positive, are not implemented in the practice. Couple of such reports were made to TS and those will be treated thoroughly in next LTI evaluation. Finally, several local CSOs approached TS for support and cooperation in small scale projects, regarding local transparency, they wish to develop, based on LTI methodology. TS responded positively, as we are ready to involve in such projects in order to support local CSO to go even further and deeper (as they will focus on one or several municipalities), but to maintain quality of LTI methodology, which is TS's brand.

As for LTI, covering all 168 municipalities, and advocating at national level, TS hopes that LTI evaluation and ranking will become traditional, annual.  Namely, this is important in order to make additional pressure on municipalities lagging behind in the area of transparency, and to recognize efforts by those which improved their transparency, and to encourage them to make additional action.

This way LTI would become mighty tool for improving transparency of local administration. It should be noted that, once higher level of transparency of local administration is reached, it will increase demand and expectations of the public (citizens, media, local CSOs). Therefore, the effect cyclic LTI measuring, ranking and recommendations’ implementation has long-term effect.

All data, interactive map of all municipalities with their results, and analysis (in Serbian), on TS web site: http://transparentnost.org.rs/index.php/sr/istraivanja-o-korupciji/LTI



[1] http://transparentnost.org.rs/index.php/sr/istraivanja-o-korupciji/lti (in Serbian only)

[2] This project was financed by the British Embassy

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