The Price of the State

The overall goal of the project, The Price of the State, is to improve general public and especially young generation’s general knowledge of the basic mechanisms and proportions of public finance. We consider it as an important step in increasing the public awareness and pressure on the transparency and fiscal responsibility of the government. Since the knowledge of public finance issues is very poor not only among general public, but also among graduates from high schools and even universities, the voter lacks information necessary for rational decisions and effective civic engagement. The Price of the State concentrates detailed data on revenues and expenditures for public administration. With the help of our portal it’s possible to get a comprehensive overview of how much the state takes in and spends and how these quantities are changing over time. In order to visualize the dimensions of individual state expenditures we use indicators which convert individual items into per-capita or per-working person costs. We go over some of the numbers in more detail, briefly commenting on them under the heading Number of the Day. The Universe of Public Expenditures offers a graphical image of the dimensions of public finance. Those hunting bargains in the public sphere are invited to Buy Your Own State.

Investigation & Watchdog Activities

The stated objective of the project was to contribute little by little to a more transparent government (long term approach). Crucial policy areas in need of change were identified by the project (e.g. EU Funds, party-financing, conflict of interest legislation, public procurement) and malpractice and misuse were disclosed. The gathered data was then entered into a publicly accessible database: data on public administration (government, elected positions, advisors, managements of institutions) and the flows of public resources to the private sector (results of public procurement, state subsidies, tax and customs etc).

Hypocrisy

The goal of the project was to exert pressure on parliamentary parties to arrive at a consensus on the need for and contours of reform in party- and campaign financing. It advocates for: (1) Introduction of a designated campaign account; (2) increased ceiling for campaign spending; (3) shortened campaign period; (4) strengthened oversight of campaigns.

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.

Transparency and publicity in the work of the regional and local administrations – a guarantee for honest and good governance

The project aimed to identify and evaluate the possible methods and mechanisms for better transparency and accountability of the public administration. The project activities included: 1. research on the best practices in the field and publicity and dissemination of a guidance book; 2. analyses of the effectiveness of the working processes of targeted institutions and development of precise recommendations for improvement; 3. realization of a national conference with the participation of representatives from the public administration and the civil society sector; 4. development of an web site dedicated to the transparency of the administration.

Engage and Monitor for Change

Goals

EPF’s Engage and Monitor for Change program fosters the active and informed participation of Georgian community groups, CSOs and media outlets in the political and economic decision-making in their regions by building capacity among civic groups, encouraging monitoring and evaluation of policy reforms and facilitating public discussions, debates and network building. EPF also provides targeted small grants to unite less experienced organizations with more developed CSOs in project development and implementation and conducts grant competitions in civic monitoring of various sectors.

Impact

The concept of participatory civic monitoring emphasizes the process by which primary stakeholders at the local level actively engage in monitoring the government’s commitments to the reform process and public service delivery and become engaged in identifying or taking corrective actions. Through this process, EPF builds the capacity of local people to analyze information and catalyze commitment at the local level. Since the program’s inception in 2007, EPF has awarded over $480,000 to thirty four local civil organizations to engage in civic monitoring and capacity building through the targeted grant competitions. EPF will award more grants in 2013 to foster community engagement through the two more targeted grant competitions.

Source: Eurasia Partnership Foundation. Read more about this project here.

Development of Local Governments’ Public Internal Financial Control (PIFC) System

The objective of this project was to enhance the strategic management capacity of public administration at local government’s level and improve sound financial management of public funds.

The specific objective of the project was to introduce and develop the functionally independent internal control and audit systems in local governments of Estonia, in order to meet the EU requirements on PIFC.

Activities

Training (members of municipal councils and municipal administrations of large and medium-sized local governments to facilitate implementing internal audit functions) and analyzing and evaluating the existing legislation concerning PIFC in local governments.

Evaluation

 A questionnaire provided answers concerning the present establishment of internal audit within local governments. Amongst ca. 240 local governments 25 had been chosen by the Estonian authorities in a representative manner respecting different sizes of local governments, small, medium and large ones for example Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu.

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.

Monitoring Government’s Initiatives to Address “State capture” Issues

The project was set up to help draft Anti-Corruption Legislation and to allow the grant receiver NGO to participate in three working groups set up by the Latvian Government to prepare legislation on political party finance, a new corruption law on public officials’ conflict of interest and a proposed new anti-corruption bureau to investigate corrupt officials. The objective was both to monitor the legislative process and to have an impact on the shape of this legislation. The main goal was to create a basis and a structure for closer cooperation and dialogue between the government and civil society. About half the funding was spent on expert services and the other half on support services, communications and distribution of reports.