Almost a month ago, the Transparent Cities program presented an updated methodology for assessing the transparency of the 100 largest cities in Ukraine. It is according to this methodology that Ukrainian cities will now be evaluated.
Let us find out how transparent Odesa and the oblast are.
The program’s team assesses the 100 largest Ukrainian cities according to the author methodologies and examines the transparency and openness of local authorities in such spheres as procurement, education, public budget, etc. That is, the team evaluates how accessible and fully local authorities inform their residents about certain services, and how open they are in terms of disclosure of information and data.
Odesa received 61.5 points and ranked 17th out of one hundred in the 2020 Transparency Ranking. In general, we can say that Odesa is really trying to be more open, transparent and shows positive dynamics because since last year it added +3 positions.
The city has already developed registration in municipal educational institutions: kindergartens, schools. Moreover, local authorities are actively working to create a positive image for foreign creditors and investors: the city’s credit rating and Strategic Development Plan of Odesa have been published. In addition, various investment objects that may be of interest to potential investors are regularly published. The Odesa authorities also have annual reports on budget implementation for the last two years. By the way, the budget is one of the spheres posing the greatest corruption risks. The Odesa authorities here are quite transparent.
However, the city also has areas for improvement — something that is not yet available. For example, a Code of Ethics has not been created that would regulate the ethical behavior of city council officials and MPs. Data on vacant residential premises (they can be leased) and places in dormitories are neither published. Data on public commission’s meeting on housing issues can neither be found in the public domain.
It is worth saying that Odesa is not the only city where these spheres are quite inaccessible. In general, the sphere of housing policy has remained one of the most “secret” in Ukraine for four years in a row.
As part of the Transparency Ranking, the Transparent Cities program also evaluated Chornomorsk, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Podilsk, and Izmail.
Chornomorsk has gained plus 23 positions over the past year (38th place in the Ranking), the city authorities are quite active in implementing new solutions.
In Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, the situation is the opposite. The city has lost 30 positions and, as of 2020, comes 73rd. This indicates that it is not enough to implement a solution once and not work in this direction systematically.
Podilsk and Izmail took the last positions in the Transparency Ranking, 97th and 99th places. The city authorities are quite closed, they almost do not communicate with residents and public organizations. Therefore, there is still a lot of space for implementing new solutions and hard work.
Accountability in the Odesa oblast
Since 2020, Transparent Cities have launched a new study — Accountability Ranking of 50 cities. If to talk about transparency as the availability of information (that is, how fully and extensively local authorities publish their data on the official website), then accountability is about how accessible, understandable information is, and how effectively it is used by city residents.
Overall, the country’s level of accountability is four times lower than the level of transparency. There is a significant difference between what is declared on paper and what is published on the websites of official city councils. To resolve this issue, it is extremely necessary to involve residents and civil society organizations in active cooperation with the authorities.
How cities benefit from transparency and accountability rankings for cities?
First, the rankings are actively used by various international programs of technical assistance to cities that investors take into account.
In other words, if a city has a low rating, this indicates that it is quite closed, so it will also be quite difficult to conduct business in it. There are certain corruption risks, the authorities are not open to communication, so, investors and creditors may have some doubts about supporting the city. As a result, the city loses both financial opportunities and support from the international community.
All indicators developed by the Transparent Cities program are about comfort. For example, implementing certain digital solutions means fewer queues and less time to process paperwork, saving time and finances.
Much depends on how actively urban residents use various services, how actively they learn about opportunities, the situation in society, and signal existing problems to their local authorities. The authorities will not work with those things that are not requested from the community. Citizens need to understand that they have an impact on decision-making in their city. This is why we have created a platform for transparency and accountability of local authorities, where everyone can leave a positive or negative review of the work of any sphere in cities: https://transparentcities.in.ua/en
Transparency and Accountability Rankings are more than just numbers, they show what stage the city is at, how actively residents are involved in various management processes, whether local authorities care about their image for creditors, international organizations, and technical assistance programs. There are several parties involved, but the benefits are clear to everyone.