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.