Improving the policy making capacity of the Bulgarian Judicial system

The goal of the project was to examine the practices of data-collection, reporting, and analysis of performance data in the Bulgarian judicial system. Since by that moment there was no systemic analysis of the operation of the judiciary as a whole, the idea behind the project was to introduce a list of key indicators which will track its performance, and will both make its functioning more transparent to the public, and provide a more precise policy-making instrument to the Supreme Judicial Council.

I have the right to know! – a survey of access to information in Latvia

The grantee investigated how FOI law was applied in practice, by making requests for information to around 200 state and municipal organizations. The results of the survey were compiled in a report which was made available to the press and discussed at a number of public forums. The survey was carried out by ten students under the supervision of a project manager.

Transparent Poland I – Massive Action

The project ‘Przejrzysta Polska’ (PP) is the largest program of this kind in Poland. It is state-wide and has been running since 2003 until today (although initially planned to last only 2 years). It has been organized by a coalition of widely recognizable polish NGOs, one of the biggest polish daily papers, international donors and recognizable individuals, e.g. the former ombudsman.

Moreover it had a large coverage in the media; some printed media as well as main channels of public TV and public radio took a patronage over the project. Thanks to its large scope and the backing from popular and widely known organizations and individuals, the project obtained a large support from local self-governments across the country.

The actors involved as well as project organizers have been changing over time, but the Foundation in Support of Local Democracy was always main part of it (here I would like to thank Ms. Katarzyna Żelichowska, for her invaluable support and patience to my questions regarding this program as well as other undertakings carried out by the Foundation).

The project’s goal was to improve quality of public life and local governance as well as to invigorate civil society. The PP aimed at those districts (local-governments), which were willing to cooperate with NGOs and citizens to improve local governance and wipe out from public life corruption and other pathologies. It also envisaged activating not only public official, but also local NGOs and citizens. Realization of scheduled tasks was to on the one hand enhance local governments’ resistance to corruption and unethical behavior, and on the other hand to ease access to public information to regular citizens as well as to make it easier for citizens to get their things accomplished in local offices.

The project set forth six rules, which should be present in the functioning of public offices and officials at the local level. Those were: transparency, citizens participation, no toleration for corruption, professionalism, predictability and accountability. Within the program the participating governments had to fulfill certain solutions/tasks which were related to each of these six rules, e.g. elaboration an ethical code of conduct for public officials and members of local councils, creating a road map of local initiatives, elaborating materials that in an accessible way explain the role and creation of budgets and community’s strategy etc.

On the basis of a model elaborated during the first stage of the project (Transparent District), this massive action took place. During the second stage (Transparent Poland – Massive Action) invitations were sent out to all local governments in Poland, of which 800 took part in the undertaking in 2005. Over 400 finished it and they were granted with certificates of the project. All the local governments were to attain objectives in each of the six program areas in order to accomplish the project. They had 12 months to do so.

Anti-corruption education and civic action against corruption in the Sofia University

The project aimed to encourage the dialogue between teachers, student’s organizations and students and engage potential participants in the process in the fight against corruption. Some of the project’s main activities include: 1. introduction of anti-corruption education courses for students in their second and third year of study at the Sofia university – around 150 students from various pedagogical departments; 2. elaboration of anti-corruption educational programs and courses in anti-corruption behavior and corruption fighting in the universities (15 teaching weeks); 3. establishment of an university ombudsman; 4. sociological survey among students and university professors and analytical reports preparation; 5. Round table about the anti-corruption education.

A corruption-free Town Hall

The project included a roundtable discussion with employees of the Prague City Hall on the transparent decision-making and the problem of corruption. Before the 2002 local communal elections all the competing political parties and movements were approached and requested answers from their candidates to six questions concerning their personal position with respect to questions of transparency and corruption. The outcome is a report on this survey. The second phase of the project were the workshops in the V4 countries’ capitals entitled “Corruption-free Town Halls in the Visegrad Region”” aiming at experience sharing and comparison. The result of the first meeting that took place in 2003 in Prague was the formulation of specific plans and further elaboration of the cooperation.”

Magistrates’ perceptions regarding the independence of the system of justice 2006

The goal of the project was to identify and evaluate the perceptions of magistrates regarding their degree of professional independence, as well as the causes and circumstances with negatively or positively influence the independence of justice. The research aimed to be the starting point of efficient measures to consolidate magistrates’ independence and level of responsibility, and to eliminate those negative aspects currently manifest within the Romanian justice system. The project was developed at the request of the Superior Council of Magistracy.

Institutional reaction to cases of corruption in Bulgaria

The main purpose of the project was to study the reaction of different institutions and players, who have an attitude to the problem with the corruption, such as media, the political actors, the government, the judicial system, the no- government sector, and the public at large. The project involved the creation of the task-force of experts, investigative journalists, and politicians which monitored and discussed institutional reaction to a number of cases of corruption during a period of ten months in Bulgaria. The “task-force”” organized four round tables discussion with the participation of legislators, heads of administrative agencies, NGOs and journalists.”

Facing the administration: Research on the good practices of the Bulgarian administration

The aim of the project was to improve the public perception towards the public administration by identifying and promoting the good practices of the municipal administration. The outputs of the project are: 1. a survey of the good practices in the local public administration; 2. publication of a comprehensive report with precise recommendations based on the findings of the research; 3. realization of six educational seminars for dissemination of the findings within the target groups; 4. media coverage of the project including a national press conference.

Corruption in environment protection

The project consisted of the cooperation of various ecological and environment protection NGOs aiming at researching and revealing of areas, which are most prone for corruptive activities within the environment protection area. The project membership was widely open and was not aimed at particular organizations. The leading organization, ‘Towarszystwo na rzecz Ziemi’ (Association for the Earth) sent out an invitation to both NGOs and governmental agencies informing them of the project. In result 7 partners contributes to the program (in total 8 organizations), most being NGOs and one a state agency, the Polish Chamber of Commerce.
The project gathered data about the aforementioned phenomena by application of different methods:
– monitoring of daily press and internet news portals to sift information about corruption in environmental
– 6 personal in depth interviews (companies from different sectors and various locations in Poland, although three located in Wrocław)
– ordering a public opinion poll on corruption in the environment protection area
– 302 phone interviews with companies around Poland
– Analysis of reports and accessible literature
Within the framework of the project different legal analyses were ordered related to environment protection issues.

Anti-corruption measures at the Naturalisation Board of Latvia in the process of acquisition of citizenship

The project consisted in training seminars and an analysis report. Its goals were to: identify specific corruption risks within the process of acquisition of citizenship, evaluate their occurring probability and their level of harmful effect; develop probable solutions and propose short and long term recommendations; sensitize and train the staff of the Naturalisation Board on the issues of corruption risks and their minimization.

Observation of administrative resource use before the 2005 local elections and the 2006 parliamentary elections

The project represents an analysis of how incumbents use the advantages they have as officeholders to either attract positive publicity for themselves or generate negative publicity for their opponents. The goal is to establish the facts which can then serve as a basis for programmatic action and public naming and shaming. The fieldwork is being done by volunteers. Examples: working visits before the election; the granting of benefits, bonuses to socially vulnerable groups; extensive public opinion polls just before elections, which at the same time contribute to raising awareness of different ministries, such as questionnaires giving information on curriculum.

Televised Municipal Debates

To support the democratic process and accountability in office, IASGAP performed all necessary research for municipal public debates between political parties one year after the elections to review promises made during the election campaign versus actual initiatives undertaken by winning candidates to fulfill these promises.

Access to justice: Introduction of the model “Legal assistance bureau”””

The project aimed to bring about a change in the regulation and grant people the right to receive legal assistance. Its main activities included: 1. data collection and analysis of the system for providing legal assistance by the officially appointed defense lawyers and attorneys; 2.qualitative and quantitative data accumulation and processing concerning the process of providing legal assistance in cases of defense provided by the state; 3. alternative model testing for providing legal assistance by the so-called Legal Assistance Bureau; 4. analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative methods for improving the quality of legal assistance and formulating a public policy by means of which an alternative can be applied.

Law-making process monitoring

This project, ‘Law-making process monitoring’, was initiated in 2006 by the Stefan Batory Foundation and Institute of Public Affairs (01.2006-12.2007). Thanks to the newly enacted in 2005 law on lobbing the NGOs and other organizations obtained an opportunity to monitor, follow more closely and also participate in legislative law-making processes. The engaged organizations monitored law projects with a significant impact on the anti-corruption sphere. The goal of this undertaking was twofold. On the one hand it intended to empirically appraise the possibility and effectiveness of the NGO participation in the legislative process. On the other hand, assessing the law making process transparency was envisaged.

Index V4

The primary aim of was to propose an innovative methodology for measuring an institution’s tendency towards corrupt behaviour and then use this methodology to investigate the level of corruption in the public administrations of the capital cities of the Visegrad 4 countries (CZ, SK, HU, PL). A comparative survey Index 4 was carried out in the capitals focusing on public procurement, internal audits, ethical codexes,conflict of interest and access to information. The results of the survey can be downloaded at http://www.transparency.cz/index.php?lan=cz&id=2500. The research into the level of corruption in the public administrations of the capital cities of the V4 served as a tool for putting pressure on political representatives. The project was a continuation of the efforts made in the project “A Corruption-Free Town Hall””.”

Corruption in the Process of Issuing Building Permits

The project represents a policy analysis of the process of issuing building permits. Formal standards, laws, and rules which regulate the receipt of building permits are unclear, contradictory, and at times even impossible to fulfill. At the same time, hardly any conflicts between the issuer and the recipient of a building permit are taken to court. Official arguments and differences of opinion are a very rare occurrence, and the question is why. The study offers an explanation – practice is regulated not so much by official rules, standards and legislation as by habit and a variety of corrupt practices to resolve or avoid disputes. The study is based on data compiled from surveys, observations, analysis of documents, interviews with experts, and focus-group discussions. The study maps the construction approval process.

Corruption – everyone loses

This initiative organized by Stowarzyszenie Instytut Nowych Technologii focused on raising social awareness about the corruption issues and simultaneously endeavored to diminish public acceptance of any form of corruption in the Łódzkie province. The organization applied means to both ridicule corruptive activities as well as spur a discussion about commonness of this phenomenon in Poland. The organizer intended to target different types of audience with this action and encourage reflecting on corruption. To achieve that, a light and fun-related form of the messages was chosen in order to appeal to the target groups.
During the action various measures were applied:
• Surveys of corruption perception in the Łódzkie province (some 750 respondents)
• Public debates devoted to anti-corruption issues, in which well known and popular celebrities (football players) as well as sociologic experts took part
• Workshops on ethical code of conduct for those groups, which were perceived in the survey as having the greatest exposure to corruption i.e. police, public officials, healthcare workers (high turnouts)
• Open space public happenings with an anti-corruption message (some 600 people)
• A family-oriented picnic with games and activities rising awareness of corruption issues (some 300 people)
• Final conference (with low participation rate)