Budget monitoring laboratory I

This project aimed at enhancing long-term transparency of public life in local districts and municipalities through improving citizens’ knowledge about and ability to monitor local budgets. Transparency was to be ensured by requiring local offices to provide information understandable to a regular citizen about each phase of the budgetary process (elaboration, implementation, evaluation). This in turn was to, in the long-term, encourage citizens to inform themselves about creation of the future budgets and participate in decision making pertaining to budgetary decisions (application of social consultations, which would be mandatory for the localities). The project also emphasized utilization of good practices like elaboration and making use of multi-annual budgetary frameworks, which would inform a current year budget planning, or having experts to revise budget projects.

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.

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.

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)

The school of watchdog initiatives I

The goals of the project included:
• Empowering citizens and local civic organizations to watchdog local administration and public officials as well as raise awareness about citizens’ right to information;
• Developing the Local Civic Groups network and creating common working standards;
• Empowering and encouraging already existing initiatives through local interventions aiming at developing cooperation among CSOs and enhancing their awareness of each other;
• Deepening learning interactions between local CSOs and other informal civic groups in order to share experiences and interesting practices.

Transparency of political party funding

A small research team from the Institute of Public Affairs (Instytut Spraw Publicznych) carried out an appraisal of financing of the political parties’ electoral campaigns. It was an in house research not related to any public campaign. They focused on official information provided by the parties to a governmental agency responsible for gathering such documents, which the parties are obliged by the law to deliver. Moreover, the team carried out in-depth interviews with or contacted via email/fax (one party and three main governmental controlling bodies) representatives of the political parties.
A project final output was a report on budgetary subsidies to political parties for running their electoral campaigns. The report was released at the press conference and was commented by all the major newspapers and on-line news portals as well as radio and TV news. It included a detailed analysis of a gathered material as well as recommendations aiming at enhancing transparency of the political party funding.
Goals of the project:
• assessment of corruption risks in the political party financing system
• enhancing the transparency of parties’ expenditure of budgetary subsidies
• civil society control of the party financing
• increasing public awareness of party financing system

The school of watchdog initiatives II

This was a 2008 continuation of the previous year project run by the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO), with similar objectives, i.e. not only enhance citizens’ awareness of their right to public information, but also increase a number of civic watchdog organizations and initiatives at the local level that attempt to improve local governance and attain more transparent public life without corruption and other pathologies. SLLGO’s goal is to create a country-wide watchdog movement, and the Association intended to provide theoretical knowledge, practical know-how and mutual learning opportunities to organizations and individuals willing to develop watchdog initiatives in their regions in order to increase their confidence, efficiency and effectiveness of their activities.

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.

Dirty hands disease

Choroba brudnych rąk (Dirty hands disease) was an anti-corruption campaign initiated in 2004 and targeted at Warsaw. It consisted of displaying billboards and citylight posters with anti-corruption slogans and the logo of the program.

Youth against corruption

The main goal of this country-wide undertaking was to enhance social awareness about anti-corruption activities, i.e. promoting discussion about corruption and strengthening anti-corruption behavior among citizens.
• Within the project an e-course was organized targeted at pupils, students, teachers to inform them about anti-corruption and mechanisms of fighting corruption. The course lasted 5 months in 2008 (5 parts all together accomplished by 45 participants).
• 21 local projects have been carried out, which encompassed not only schools but also local communities and some labor groups (e.g. doctors)
• A mini-library of corruption related materials was organized and may be found at www.ceo.org.pl/portal/b_mpk_eplatforma_antykorupcyjna_ebiblioteka_antykorupcyjna or www.wsap.edu.pl/_e_biblioteka.html
• Ethical code of conduct for public officials and teachers was elaborated and discussed
• A conference on the ethical code of conduct of public administration officials was organized (103 participants)

Don’t give, don’t take bribes

An overall program name, in reality it consists of different separate projects/campaigns. The main goal of the ‘Don’t give, don’t take bribes’ program was to raise awareness among the citizens that ‘petty corruption’, e.g. bribes to a road police, small gifts to doctors, bribes to ticket controlling services etc., is also corruption. It also attempted to change the perception that corruption is only a part of big business and draw attention to the fact that also regular people do encounter it and may act against this harmful phenomenon. The project aimed to create a positive campaign to show that one can say ‘no’ to corruptive activities and that indeed there are regular people, who do act against corruption. This undertaking also intended to reveal to people that any corruption undermines healthy functioning of the state and of every institution functioning within it.
The project was invented and run predominantly by two organizations: Ruch Normalne Państwo (Regular State Movement) and Stowarzyszenie Komunikacji Marketingowej SAR. The former organization is a voluntary civil society organization to which people donate their time and effort. They managed to find a large number of sponsors and thanks to that develop a country wide campaign in 2006, which lasted 3 months and was supported by multiple media (press, radio, TV). According to one of news articles the market value of the campaign in 2006 was ca. EUR 370.000!
The project had different editions starting with a single city campaign (in 2004 in Warsaw). Later on it pick up speed and scaled up onto the whole country. During annually organized ‘day without a bribe’ various happenings and actions take place across the whole country. Local NGOs and civil society organizations participate in them. Badges with campaign main slogan are distributed, as well as bumper stickers. Also envelopes are publicly burned to symbolize fight with corruption. Anti-corruption media campaigns ran for 2-3 months a year between 2006-2008. They included, besides already mentioned actions, TV and radio spots, billboard and citylight posters and running an internet website (www.niedajelapowek.pl).

Youth for Transparency

The main aim of the project was to develop attitudes and meet expectations of young citizens in building the transparency and accountability of the public life on the local level, through education and through encouraging community cooperation on local and international levels.

Objectives

  • To engage local authorities and schools in common building and realizing the local policy of public administration monitoring.
  • To present the social control mechanisms in the subject of transparency and ways of corruption prevention for the students.
  • To cooperate with local authorities and schools in developing the local system of getting and disseminating information on the public institution functioning.
  • To build the international experience exchange and means of dissemination social control mechanism through education forum.

 

Target groups and beneficiaries

  • Youth: the project’s direct addressees are young people aged 13-18 years (students of gymnasium schools) in Poland and Lithuania living in places covered by the Programme, those who will one day become full citizens taking part in their local community life, also as the potential clients of offices in their localities (3900 students).
  • Local authorities chosen for the project: direct beneficiaries are local governments invited to co-operation (10 in Poland and 3 in Lithuania) their representatives who, assisted by the planned activities, are expected to build a positive image of the office and to work to improve confidence in public institutions (13 local governments, 65 representatives).
  • Teachers from the schools that will take part in the project: the Programme’s intermediate beneficiaries are also school teachers involved in its implementation and all the residents of counties and municipalities covered by the Programme, who will become addressees of activities carried out by school students and local government staff members (260 teachers).
  • Local community: all inhabitants in those regions where the project will be conducted (3000 adult inhabitants).

 

Corruption? Common problem. Don’t complain – act.

One province-wide project aimed at the monitoring openness of all local governments within the Podlaskie province. The first stage was launched by PRYZMAT in July 2007 and lasted till June 2008, the continuation took place between and financed by the Stefan Batory Foundation. The main goal was to check local governments’ observance of law on the public information access and some anti-corruption regulations. Within this undertaking an analysis of court jurisdiction pertaining to exercising one’s right to public information was carried out as well as assessment of legal regulations in this matter. Additionally, a degree of compliance of local governments with the law on public information was monitored. Finally, informative action was carried out through posters, flyers and project website: www.jawnosc.pl. The project did not include outcome indicators.

Openness and competence I

One province-wide project aimed at the monitoring openness of all local governments within the Podlaskie province. The first stage was launched by PRYZMAT in July 2007 and lasted till June 2008, the continuation took place between and financed by the Stefan Batory Foundation. The main goal was to check local governments’ observance of law on the public information access and some anti-corruption regulations. Within this undertaking an analysis of court jurisdiction pertaining to exercising one’s right to public information was carried out as well as assessment of legal regulations in this matter. Additionally, a degree of compliance of local governments with the law on public information was monitored. Finally, informative action was carried out through posters, flyers and project website: www.jawnosc.pl. The project did not include outcome indicators.

Set in stone – honestly

In December 2008 Ruch Normalne Państwo and SAR and in cooperation with Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju, magazine ‘Murator’ and Cadera company released a report on corruption in construction sector in Poland. Information was gathered predominantly among the readers of the magazine, which is the most well known magazine in topic construction, via an on-line survey. The sample and outcomes bear a significant risk of being biased, nonetheless, the report is indicative about exemplary situations that a Pole encounter during an administrative process when she tries to acquire a construction/remodeling permission.

Openness and competence II

It is a Poland-wide project targeted at raising awareness about corruption and shaping anti-corruption behavior models. The project is on-going and runs since late 2003. Both youth (primary schools, high schools and universities) and teachers are targeted and the aim of the undertaking is to introduce to school curricula more information about corruption and ways to counteract this phenomenon. Additionally, teachers were to be trained on topic how to deliver information about anti-corruption in classes as well as an internet database of corruption related materials was to be created. Within the program local governments are engaged on some stages and in some initiatives, like on-site visits, conferences, workshops, etc.
The project is of the very large scope and thousands of teachers as well as youth was trained and took part in multiple workshops and trainings. Many various materials have been elaborated within the project, like informative brochures, manuals, code of conducts etc. Moreover, some stages were linked with other ongoing projects in Poland, e.g. in 2004 with the Transparent District and in 2005 with Transparent Poland.
Project’s donors have varied over years and the funding have originated from governmental sources (the US Embassy and Polish Ministry of Education and Sport and Civic Initiatives Fund) as well as EU means the European Commission, Transition Facility 2005 (managed by the Cooperation Fund Foundation), and other NGOs, e.g. the Stefan Batory Foundation.
Within this project a number of other anti-corruption-/transparency-oriented initiatives for youth have been taking place. Two most significant are:

Youth in transparent Poland (since 2006) – Młodzież w przejrzystej Polsce
@corruption e-platform (2008) – E-platforma @ntykorupcyjna

Both of them were of the national scope and engaged large number of participants. Youth and teachers often try to engage within the projects public officials from local administration but also particular working groups, like judges, doctors, policemen etc., which often bear a patch of being very prone to corruption. This was achieved thanks to study visits to interested institutions as well as conferences and workshops with representatives of those sectors. Moreover, the project ‘Youth in transparent Poland’ stepped outside Poland and it turned into joined projects with e.g. Lithuania, where schools and local administrations were encouraged to cooperate in the field of anti-corruption.