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.

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.

Forum for ethical business promotion

The Foundation for Promotion of Entrepreneurship (Fundacja Rozwoju Przedsiębiorczości) had a general objective of raising the social awareness about corruption and its social and legal consequences and at the same time the project was to promote ethical behavior. Additionally, mapping out corruption risks in the Łódzkie province constituted another main goal.

Only fish don’t take bait?

The aim of the project was to encourage the development of the investigative journalism, the latter being one of the method of not only revealing corruptive situations in public life, but also exerting a social pressure on politicians and officials to counteract such phenomena. The program had seven editions, starting in 2000 and finishing in 2006. The journalist (press, radio, tv) submitted to the Foundation their materials pertaining to uncovering corruptive situations. In the first edition, 2000, there were almost 80 submissions whereas, in 2001-48, 2002-36, 2003-138, 2004-162, 2005-165, 2006-88 (the high number in the latter years are caused most probably by counting several materials on the same topic not as a one submission but as a single entry). The ‘applications’ were evaluated by a committee and the winners were selected and announced. The winning journalists were awarded with financial prizes, in 2000 the main prize was $5.000, in 2002 it was PLN 12.000 (ca. €3.000), in 2006 – PLN 7.000 (ca. €1.750). Usually there were 3-4 prizes per edition. The awarded reportages were both of the national and local scope.

Citizens and local government

This project (Citizens and local government) was realized by the Foundation in Support of Local Democracy (FSLD). It was a country-wide project designed for small municipalities and districts below 50.000 citizens with an objective to create sustainable and transparent mechanism for cooperation between local administration and local civic organizations and citizens. Overall the FSLD funded 22 grants to local NGOs (total amount equaled PLN 805.400 or ca. EUR 200.000) for sake of creating and strengthening of the cooperation among the NGOs as well as between them and the local administration.
Those actions were envisaged to enhance common trust between the engaged entities, especially towards the local governments and to lower corruption thanks to increased transparency of the decision making processes. Also creation of local organization coalitions was encouraged in order to stimulate active citizens’ participation in public life and to shape sustainable communication schemes between the administration and local communities. Thanks to the latter, local officials could better address the needs of their communities.

Civic law-making process monitoring

This was a continuation of a former two-year long project, i.e. ‘Law-making process monitoring’. The second edition ran for 10 months (02.2008-10.2008). Thanks to the EU funding from Transition Facility 2005 framework the project could gather a number of NGO and professional lobbyists as well as media representatives and allow them checking the functioning of the 2005 law on lobbying. The project focused on the parliamentary stage of the law-making since it is more transparent than the in-government stage and easier to participate and influence. Two dimensions which were highlighted by this project were:
• protecting the law-making process from illegal pressures that obscurely attempt changing a text of a bill project
• ensuring wide and transparent participation in the legislative process, especially amending bills that are being elaborated by civil society organizations

Transparent Poland II

This part of the project was designated for those local governments, which accomplished one of the two previous stages and intended to go on with already introduced solutions in order to deepen and fine tune their working. The main focus of the project was again to improve the quality of local governance. In general 127 local governments went on with this initiative and kept implementing brand new tasks (both mandatory and voluntary) within the earlier designed areas.

Local Civic Groups

From 2000 to 2005 the Batory Foundation carried out a program to develop a network of Local Civic Groups, which were to monitor the exercise of authority by local officials as well as to educate local communities on greater transparency of public life.

The Foundation organized on an annual basis a set of trainings and workshops (9 meetings each lasts 2 days and take place every 4-5 weeks). These leadership trainings intend to prepare local leaders to develop their leadership skills as well as to train them in hard skills, like knowledge of legal regulations and consequences of corruption.

Over the last four years, the programm trained 68 individuals who have established 20 local citizens groups in both small communities and in large urban centers such as Cracow and Warsaw.

The project also provided technical and financial assistance to the Local Civic Group Leaders Association.
A series of advice manuals, practical guides and brochures (e.g..  Notes on Democracy – Citizen’s Anti-Corruption Guide series and Notes for Local Civic Group leaders) have been also developed.

Transparent Poland – Forum

In 2007 47 local governments from the 3 previous project stages were invited to take further their experiences with “Transparent Poland”” (PP) program. This project lasted from March to November 2007. The invited communities were one of the most active and advanced bodies in introducing previous stages of the program. The PP-Forum offered an opportunity to bring together the governments and allow information sharing and exchange of interesting practices. Moreover, strengths and weaknesses of the hitherto approach were pinpointed. The main goal of this engagement supported by external experts was to work out an internal audit scheme for both effectiveness appraisal and evaluation of local governance enhancing mechanisms enacted during the previous stages of the program. Monitoring and assessment of the at-that-time utilized procedures was carried out and policy recommendations were spell out to fine tune the effectiveness of the local governments’ actions.
Another objective of this stage was to create a set of solutions and recommendations that could be later on shared with other self-governments, which did not participate in this project phase. The final goal was to establish a benchmarking group of advanced in implementation of the program activities local governments, which in further years could be utilized as a reference point for other self-governments, which would like to take on some of the program recommendations. This benchmarking group could also share their experiences with and offer advice to other local governments.
At this stage the program enlarged its geographical scope and pilot projects began in other countries of the region (Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia). The project continued in 2008.”

Monitoring of electoral campaign financing

2005-2006: Batory Foundation and the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP) initiated in 2005 a project named ‘Monitoring of electoral campaign financing’ and its name is self explanatory. During initial 2005-2006 period the project encompassed monitoring of both presidential and local government electoral campaigns.
2006-2008: Those observations pushed both organizations to take steps in order to amend the current inefficiencies. In 2008 they came up with proposals of amending the electoral law, especially in terms of presidential campaign financing and presented it before the parliamentary legislative committee.
Local government 2006: The monitoring of finances of local government electoral campaign was ignited in June 2006. The Batory Foundation trained 15 local NGOs and associations across Poland in the project area. These organizations were to impartially monitor and publish data about campaign financing sources, with a special stress put on the issue if the public money is used to finance incumbent majors/presidents’ campaigns. Additionally, resources utilized for media campaign, public events as well as donations were analyzed. This action was to show that the society not only care about electoral campaign finances, but also can control them.
2009: The third edition of this still ongoing project took place in 2009 during the electoral campaign to the European Parliament (EP). Again close attention was paid to campaign expenditures, financing sources and engagement of public funds by public officials for their or their colleagues campaigns. Monitoring was carried out at both national and local levels and observed irregularities were reported and disclosed in the intermediary report.

Monitoring of electoral campaign promises

This initiative (monitoring of electoral campaign promises) has been running since 2001 in order to present anti-corruption-oriented proposals of political parties in an unbiased and unpartisan fashion. For this purpose a single-issue coalition of Polish NGOs, called AKOP, was brought to life. AKOP or Antykorupcyjna Koalicja Organizacji Pozarzadowych (Anti-corruption Coalition of Non-governmental Organizations) composes of major domestic NGOs, i.e. Batory Foundation, The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, The Foundation for Social Communication, Center for Citizenship Education, The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups. The latter two joined AKOP in 2005.
It began with monitoring of the parliamentary electoral campaign in 2001 in order to hold politicians accountable to their electoral promises pertaining to fight against corruption. Since then on before every parliamentary election (2005, 2007) AKOP has been asking political parties about their position on issues related to anti-corruption and substantial measures that a party would take during the new term. Then those promises have been published on the organization website and the coalition has been elaborating annual reports on fulfilling promised targets and actions.
Additionally to the electoral promises monitoring, AKOP also keep tracking the developments in the law-making arena. It submits its remarks on legislative projects that are important for the anti-corruption sphere. The coalition also issues statements on government’s (non-)implementation of anti-corruption strategies/plans. By and large, the AKOP is a watch dog of activities and declaration aimed against corruption that happens at the political level.

Transparent Poland – ‘Certification system for local government units’

This new pilot project within Transparent Poland framework was introduced in 2008. An appraisal of the district and municipality self-governments’ actions was carried out by external bodies. During this initiative 16 districts were examined and all but one were granted with a renewable certificate of ‘Przejrzysta Polska’ (the logo of the program is a blue diamond, which by now should be very well recognizable) for the period 2008-2010. Additionally, among 32 local governments from the PP-Forum phase a contest was organized for the friendliest Public Information Bulletin, which is an official web site that is required by the law, where all public information on a given community should be published.

 

 

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.

Budget monitoring laboratory II

Continuation of the project ‘Budget monitoring laboratory’ implemented in the previous year. The overarching goals again were long-term and difficult to measure their outcome straight after the project. Projects objectives were:
• improving transparency of local government finances and enhancing citizens participation in budgetary process
• increasing the level of civic control over local authority activities
• enhancing information flow between citizens and local governments

Transparent District (pilot)

The project was a pilot for the larger project Transparent Poland (’Przejrzysta Polska’). The goal of this first stage was to elaborate, in cooperation with 16 local governments, a model of tasks, which these governments were to implement in order to attain project objectives. The model was later to be scaled up in the following stage, i.e. the massive action. 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.

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.