Anastasiia Mazurok, Chief Operating Officer of TI Ukraine, spoke with Hromadske radio about the overall trends and interest facts of the Top 100 Cities 2019 Transparency Ranking.

TI Ukraine for the third consecutive year presents Transparency Ranking of the 100 largest cities in Ukraine. It shows how the city authorities disclose information about their activities to citizens and provide them with tools to influence and participate.

We have selected 6 major points from Anastasiia Mazurok’s interview.

  1. It is becoming increasingly difficult to occupy a leading position in the Ranking.

For the third year in a row, there has been a tightening of Ranking positions. For example, the difference between the first and third positions is literally three points (Drohobych and Pokrov – 79.1 points, Ternopil – 76 points), which indicates a very dense positioning of cities. To become a leader of the Ranking, it is not enough to make superficial or simple changes. It is important to do complicated things.

  1. Overall trend towards transparency and slowing growth.

For two consecutive years, most cities were in the “non-transparent” category, gaining less than 40 points. This year, 59 cities crossed the 40-point mark. Overall, the average level of transparency over the three years has increased from 29.9 to 45.7 points, but there is a slowdown in growth rates. This is primarily due to the fact that simpler indicators were initially implemented. Now every new achievement needs more resources. For example, it is easy to open data about a personnel competition and to create a geo inventory or investment passport of a city already requires the involvement of professional experts, financial resources and more.

  1. The idea that it is easier for the big cities to be transparent is a myth.

Only 4 oblast centers (Ternopil, Vinnytsia, Lviv, Dnipro) were among the top 10 transparent cities. Kharkiv has the lowest position among the oblast centers (51st place).

Large cities have more resources, but they also have more property, commissions, and the datasets they need to open. Small towns today may to some extent be more mobile in their decision-making and change. Moreover, after decentralization reform, many resources, investments, and donor support come to the regions.

Studies of the factors that affect the level of transparency of cities have shown that the “political will”, that is, the desire of the authorities to open data sets rather than the size of the city and its population, is most influential.

  1. City transparency attracts investors.

Mariupol attracted two investors due to improving transparency for two years in a row. Investment is a motivation for cities to increase their position in Transparency Ranking. Cities compete with each other for investment, using ranking as a competitive tool.

  1. Cities release staff when they open their data.

As the city publishes more information into the public domain, the number of requests for public information decreases. The city is releasing a human resource that previously handled the appeal. Citizens less often ask to provide obvious information that they can find on the site.

  1. Indicators, which were previously considered to be the best practices in the world, are becoming legal.

The Transparency Ranking is conducted in 14 different sectors and includes 86 indicators.

On the one hand, the Ranking includes indicators that are statutory: publish the budget within the allotted timeframe, break down expenditures, and so on. In addition, best practices are included in the Ranking Indicators. For example, setting up an online queue for kindergartens and schools, or creating an online queue for community accessible housing. This is not a requirement of the law as of now, but it will greatly simplify and improve the comfort of people’s lives.

Three years ago, most of the indicators were in the “best world practice” category. As of now, most of these indicators have become a legislative provision as the whole world is moving toward open data sets.

Let’s recall, on February 12, Transparency International Ukraine published the City Transparency Ranking-2019. For the first time, two cities – Drohobych and Pokrov (former Ordzhonikidze), received 79.1 points each.

The five most transparent cities also included Ternopil (76.0), Mariupol (74.6) and Vinnytsia (74.2). Instead, according to the results of 2019, Dnipro left the top 5. By the way, Kyiv as a result has taken 15th place of the Ranking.

You can read the research here.