Monitoring the Implementation of the FOIA at Selected Public Authorities (on local and regional level)

OAD has carried out a number of monitoring projects concerning the application of the FOIA in practice. The aim of the monitoring has been to identify problems and shortcomings related to the application of the FOIA, highlight them and encourage the affected authorities to resolve or eliminate them.
Efforts have been concentrated on changing or removing certain established practices which were incorrect in terms of the Act, or which were disadvantageous, discriminatory or discouraging for a citizen – information seeker.
Where the law had been breached, OAD sought a remedy through legal means (e.g. appeals) as well as trough filing actions against decisions on non-disclosure of information that contravened the law. Based on OAD’s actions, the courts have delivered several judgments which have changed the practices of the respective authorities in connection with the application of the Act.

OAD, in cooperation with other NGO activists, monitored the implementation the FOIA at the local self-government offices in selected Slovak towns and villages from June to September 2001. This monitoring was focused on both the active information policy and the information provided on request.

Corruption Research Centre

This is an academic research institute within the Corvinus University of Budapest where the scholars are not only doing academic work but actively engaging in promoting their findings, collaborating with other NGOs (e.g. Energy Control Project, TI-HU), and seeking media coverage of uncovered corrupt cases.

Corruption as an election issue

A research on public opinion was conducted in September 2002. Its results were presented in the media. The project raised the public awereness about corruption, promoted important values of transparency and dedication in fighting the poverty, influenced political parties to pay attention to corruption issues in their activities. The project put pressure on non transparent politicians and their political parties and supported the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy. This project also reinforced the civil society organisations’ role in fighting corruption as well as the role of Transparency International in the monitoring of political system in Bosnia.

Transparency International Georgia Office in Parliament

The project aimed at enabling Georgian parliamentarians to make informed decisions about draft laws by providing them with the advice of lower level specialists and by actively involving civil society in the legislative process and also at improving the transparency of information given by the parliament, thus better informing citizens about the work carried out by the parliament.

The non-governmental center for public information access

This is a project with a large territorial scope, encompassing some 400 districts and municipalities. The main goal is to raise the awareness about exercising one’s right to public information. The project intended to show citizens how they can demand such data from uncooperative public offices. Within the framework of the undertaking not only individuals were instructed but also civil society organizations were trained in order to be able later to provide support to citizens. The project also intended to both gather information about cases of information refusals and systematize those instances to be able to draw more general conclusions on the matter. Finally, the public opinion was to be informed about the observance of regulation on the public information access.

Nu Da Spaga! – DON’T ASK FOR BRIBE II

The project sought to:
– inform and raise the awareness of young adults, especially those that (will) activate in fields frequently associated with small corruption;
– involve the professional associations from justice, public administration fields in promoting the legal stipulations and the deontological codes, and in promoting their self-regulation role, in order to increase their responsibility;
– strengthen TIR image as an organization with expertise in providing applicable models for reducing the small corruption phenomenon and to strengthen the role of the professional associations as promoters of an ethic and responsible attitude towards beneficiaries.
This campaig is the follow-up of a similar one developed in 2003-2004.

Energy Control Project

The project aims at advancing a clean and transparent regulatory environment for the Hungarian energy sector. Its goal is to facilitate that “as many people have factual information as possible, understanding the importance of this sector on their lives”.  In order to achieve this, it is essential that interested persons have access to data concerning them, and understand the background and consequences of the decisions of power.

To do this, the Project:

1. Collects, requests, processes  and publishes information, facts and data in order to have a comprehensive view on the sector.

2. Conducts researches and writes studies to analyze and reveal the conditions of the Hungarian energy sector. They investigate its institutional and legal background, financial processes, and decision-making mechanisms. They also provide generic and specific suggestions to the problems listed here.

3.  Launches tenders for investigative news articles. In these they draw the public’s attention with instruments of journalism on shortcomings, inconsistencies, misconducts and corruption in the sector.

4. Takes part in a work group where compliance with the Aarhus Convention (“on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters”) in the field of nuclear energy is investigated.

Common qualities of all the pillars of the program are the controlling role of publicity, revealing and documenting facts, as well as shaping the professional and social approach to these issues.

The Control Energy Project has had a lot of success since its launch in 2009. Its studies were met with great interest, leading to a full-house conference that had high coverage in the press and attracted great professional attention. Following our tenders, a range of investigative articles were published in national media and on the oknyomozo.hu site, the author of such an article received the prestigious Soma Award for the CEP material. During its operation, the program initiated dozens of data request proceedings, with lawsuits where necessary.

The Control Energy Project is a highlighted program of the Energiaklub

Read more about CEP here.

Reviewing and drafting laws related to the Access to Information – Improving the implementation of the law by public administration

The goals of the project were reviewing and drafting legislation, as well as improving the implementation of the law by public administration, in particular regulations with a considerable effect on the right to information, forms another group of activities of OAD, e.g. Amendments to FOIA, Code of Administrative Procedure, Act on Disclosure of Environmental Information, Act on Protection of Classified Information.

Building a Political Integrity Network in Southeastern Europe (SEEIN)

The overarching goal of the project was to promote transparency in the electoral process in Southeastern Europe and the accountability of elected officials. The specific objective was to assist civil society in Southeastern Europe in building effective anti-corruption coalitions based on the models, skills, and experience of the Romanian Coalition for a Clean Parliament (RCCP). The main activities of the project were to organize a regional conference to share experience on and discuss the effective solutions to fight political corruption, to set up a regional network of NGOs willing to engage in developing activities to fight political corruption, and to assist partner organizations in developing their own clean parliament coalitions.
SAR organized the regional conference on the creation of the East European Integrity Network (EEIN) during October 12-15, 2006. The conference attracted the participation of NGO representatives from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine, as well as representatives of the World Bank, Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), European Parliament, Stability Pact.

Corruption Perception Study 2004

The goals of the project were to:
– Undertake a public opinion survey regarding the perception of corruption and compare the results of the survey with the baseline database developed in 2002;
– Publish the survey in both languages (local and English) and distribute to the BiH authorities at all levels including the Council of Ministers, Entity governments as well as the leading International Community representatives. The governments may opt to use the survey as an assessment base for their anti-corruption policies;
– Promote results trough mass media;
– Inform the citizens of BiH that currently have no access to information and understanding of the implications of corruption and lack of government transparency, particularly those that are relevant to them and their region;
– Stimulate broader public discussion on anti-corruption issues;
– Strengthen the rule of the law;
– Improve accountability and transparency of the public sector: public finance management, clearer budgets, prohibition of conflict of interest, depolarisation of administration;
– Involve citizens in corruption combating: associations for controlling and fighting corruption, partnership with governments, organizing political parties, influence on the leaders.

Reducing Political Corruption

An advocacy project, this addressed the need of establishing a transparent system of political parties’ financing and an initiative, which would support the citizens’ rights to familiarize themselves with financial transactions and data regarding the political parties’ finances and management of their respective incomes and expenditures.

Transparency against corruption: the development of the non-governmental center for public information access

This project was run by the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (Stowarzyszenie Liderów Lokalnych Grup Obywatelskich or SLLGO), which itself was created as a result of another project run by the Stefan Batory Foundation. The main goal of the organization is not counteracting the corruption, but aiming at many areas, which contribute to fighting corruption. The main stress the organization puts on transparency of the public life, especially on enhancing awareness of citizens, civic organizations as well as public officials about the their right to public information or duty to provide this information.
• The goal of this project was to prepare civil society organizations, citizens and public administration to making use of their right to public information;
• Raising awareness and knowledge about issues of openness and transparency in public and local administrations and their pivotal role in containing public life pathologies (e.g. corruption);
• Ensuring application of procedures that guarantee openness and transparency in the chosen offices of governmental and local administration.

Association for Freedom Rights

This NGO fights for open government and access to public information which clearly has impacts on corruption although the objectives of the NGO clearly go beyond corruption.

Secret client – development of mechanisms for better accessibility to information, transparency and accountability of the municipal administration

The major goal of the project was to develop mechanisms for better information accessibility, transparency and accountability of the municipal administration. The project foresee the incorporation of these mechanisms at targeted municipalities. Those mechanisms that work well were then multiplied and disseminated to other local administrations. In particular, the initiative included: 1. analyses of best practices with regard to transparency and accountability within different local administration in EU countries; 2. analyses of the current deficiencies in the targeted municipalities in the country; 3. development of specific recommendations and a “technical guideline for municipal transparency””. 4. dissemination of the results to other municipal administrations in the country.”

Restricting Corruption in a Transition Society (Legal Aspects)

The goals of the projects were: to identify the most corruption-sensitive areas in Estonia; to find the most efficient legal means to restrict corruption; to offer solutions increasing the transparency of decision-making. The project identified and analysed legal aspects of restricting corruption. Other countries’ experience and its possible applications in Estonia were summarised in the course of the project.

Monitoring and evaluation of the possibilities for improving the transparency of the municipal administration

The goal of the project was to increase the capacity of the civil society organizations for improving the transparency of the work of the local and municipal administrations. The project offered practical guidelines for representatives of the civil society for better cooperation with the municipal administration and created a local network for monitoring and evaluation. The initiative included: 1. a round table on the topic “Transparency in the administration and the involvement of the civil society””; 2. a survey among representatives of the target groups; 3. an analyses, followed by recommendations, on the legal framework and the internal procedures guiding the work of the municipal administrations in their cooperation with the civil society; 4. development of an web site for the ease of the civil society network.”

Coalition for a Clean Parliament 2004

Alegeri locale şi generale

On the occasion of the legislative and presidential elections in November and December 2004, Romanian civil society organized itself for the first time into a broad coalition for integrity in politics: the Coalition for a Clean Parliament (CCP). Frustrated by the government’s lack of effectiveness in fighting large-scale corruption, civil society took matters into its own hands.

The CCP first determined the criteria that would make a candidate unfit for a clean parliament. These criteria were: 1) having repeatedly shifted from one political party to another in search of personal profit; 2) having been accused of corruption on the basis of published and verifiable evidence; 3) having been exposed as an agent of the Securitate (Ceauşescu’s former secret service); 4) being the owner of a private firm with important tax arrears to the state budget; 5) being unable to account for the discrepancy between one’s officially stated assets and one’s income; 6) turning a profit from conflicts of interest involving one’s public position. The second step was to discuss these criteria with the leadership of the political parties represented in the Parliament. The most important ones—the Social Democratic Party/Humanist Party of Romania coalition (PSD/PUR), the Justice and Truth Alliance (DA), and the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR)—agreed with the criteria and the process that we had designed, and they publicly announced their support for the CCP’s campaign.

Our third step was to gather information about the candidates of these parties. We collected material published in the press over the years and researched the websites of various public authorities in charge of financial and commercial matters. Then we double-checked our information. Our fourth step was to draw up lists of those candidates who met one or more of the agreed-upon criteria for being unfit to hold a seat in the future Parliament. The resulting “black lists”” were then sent to the political parties, with the request that they re-examine each case and decide whether to withdraw the candidate in question.

The CCP also offered to analyze any cases where individual candidates contested its findings. Step five consisted of the withdrawal by the political parties of significant numbers of their initial candidates. Some of the candidates appealed to the CCP, which approved or rejected their appeals and adjusted its lists accordingly. Our last step was to release the final CCP black lists in the form of nearly two million flyers, distributed in most of the 41 counties of Romania.

Coalition partners:

  • Agentia de Monitorizare a Presei – Academia Catavencu
  • Fundatia Freedom House
  • Centrul pentru Jurnalism Independent
  • Fundatia Dialog Social
  • Asociatia Pro Democratia
  • Alianta Civica
  • Asociatia pentru Apararea Drepturilor Omului in Romania – Comitetul Helsinki
  • Asociatia Revolutionarilor fara Privilegii
  • Liga Romana de Presa
  • Asociatia Studentilor la Facultatea de Stiinte Politice”

Ethic promotion and fight against corruption

Project aims :
To develop anti-corruption programme and methodical recommendations for the universities students from six Bosnia and Herzegovina universities;
To introduce developed programme and methodical recommendations to the Ministries of Education at all the BiH governance levels;
To test anti-corruption education strategies and methods at the universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina;
To support the programmes and standards of education by promoting democratic values and attitudes;
To demonstrate possibilities of fight against corruption;
To raise awareness among youth about the character, spread, and impact of corruption;
To establish networks facilitating the creation of a permanent international youth forum that ensures sustainability in the global fight against corruption by creatingm the next generation of corruption fighters;
To add new momentum to the existing anti-corruption movement.
Project objectives :
To train student’s and profesor’s further responsible for the dissemination activities;
To educate student’s about National Integrity System, and give the best input for political science, civic education, history, ethics, psychology and informations;
To introduce the concept of corruption, its causes and effects (knowledge);
To motivate student’s for the fight against corruption;
To lay the foundation for the recruitment of the next generation of corruption fighters by informing youth about the dangers of an omnipresent and unconstraint corruption for their future and showing them a way to contribute to initiatives that try to change this situation;
To endorse the creation of a youth-run global network against corruption that adds new impetus to existing anti-corruption initiatives through fresh and original perspectives and enthusiasm of the next generation;
To train them in possible counter measures through the participation in key workshops, online discussions and networks with civil society;
To design an action plan together with student participants that steers follow-up initiatives and creates sustainable networks among youth, TI, universities, local and regional organizations.