On September 29, the Transparent Cities team, together with the Agency on Corruption Prevention, held an online discussion of changes in the methodology of city transparency ranking. The speakers especially focused on anti-corruption indicators.
As soon as November, the Transparent Cities team will start preparing for City Transparency Ranking 2020. What should city councils keep in mind?
INNOVATIONS IN LEGISLATION
We have updated the requirements in the sectors Procurement, Municipal Property, Access and Participation in connection with important legislative changes.
- Under the new version of the Law of Ukraine “On Public Procurement,” since April 19, 2020, spending units must on all procurement in the ProZorro system regardless of the amount. The threshold for mandatory competitive procurement has been reduced from UAH 200,000 to UAH 50,000.
- Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Lease of National and Municipal Property” are also gradually coming into effect, namely, those related to publication of potential objects for lease in the Prozorro.Sale system and on the lessors’ websites.
- According to the amendments in Article 15, part 3 of the Law of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information,” draft regulatory acts and decisions of local self-government developed by the relevant agencies have to be published at least 10 business days before their consideration for approval.
Two new indicators have been introduced in the sphere Municipal Enterprises. They include:
- Approval of the competitive recruitment procedure for heads of municipal enterprises or companies where the community-owned equity stake exceeds 50%;
- Openness and publication of information about competitive recruitment on city council websites.
The indicators are introduced to encourage open and transparent competitive recruitment for heads of municipal enterprises.
The indicator has been added to the Municipal Property sphere which measures the availability of information on parking rates, a map of parking lots or a scheme of traffic and ways to pay for parking on the city council official website. The purpose is to check the transparency of management of municipally owned parking lots.
Indicators have been added to the Procurement sphere, which are related to:
- conducting preliminary market consultations and publishing their results;
- availability of published announcements on the procurement of goods, works and services for the funds of loans or grants provided by international monetary organizations for the past two years on the official website of the city council or its structural units.
The sphere Financial Assistance and Grants has been supplemented with an indicator on the availability of decisions, minutes or other documents for the current year on provision of, or refusal to provide, financial assistance to private individuals on the official website and whether such documents contain information on recipients of such aid.
CHANGES BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM CITY COUNCILS AND EXPERTS
While most indicators of the methodology score 1 point maximum, the implementation of certain recommendations takes a lot of effort, such as approval of a regulatory act, development of a tech solution, special skills or significant resources.
Connecting the city to the official platform which helps people to start their own business is not a difficult indicator, and therefore, this indicator is now evaluated at 1 point instead of 2. However, publication of the entire list of real estate objects owned by the municipality or provision of automatic data processing in a machine-readable format requires investments, time and special skills. Therefore, we increased the weight of the corresponding indicator to 2 points.
CHANGES OF INDICATORS IN THE FIELD OF ANTI-CORRUPTION POLICY
The Anti-Corruption Policy and Professional Ethics sector has been transformed most, with the help of National Agency on Corruption Prevention representatives.
Serhii Derkach, head of the Department for Corruption Prevention and Detection of the NACP pointed out that the country did not have an anti-corruption strategy for three years. As of September 30, the draft anti-corruption strategy ended up in the Parliament. The document provides for local self-government’s participation in the implementation of the strategy and cooperation with the NACP.
Priorities in cooperation between local governments and the NACP will be as follows:
- training and networking of anti-corruption commissioners;
- evaluation of commissioners;
- development and use of online tools;
- daily support and coordination of anti-corruption commissioners;
- protection of whistleblowers;
- audit of anti-corruption commissioners’ performance at the local level.
In accordance with the updated requirements of the methodology, it is recommended that city councils do the following:
- create and publish a Code of Councilor Ethics or a different local act regulating the rules of ethical conduct;
- create and publish a Code of Ethics or a different local act which regulates the rules of ethical conduct of local self-government officials, staff of municipal enterprises, institutions and organizations, community-founded associations;
- use channels enabling anonymous reporting of corruption and corruption-related violations, as well as unethical behavior and discrimination by local self-government officials, members of municipal enterprises, institutions and organizations, community-founded companies;
- publish information on the party affiliation of councilors;
- define the procedure for resolution and ways to prevent conflict of interest of executive committee members;
- develop an anti-corruption tool (anti-corruption program, integrity plan or other document) that is designed to focus on identifying and mitigating corruption risks;
- form an authorized division (authorized officer) on corruption prevention and detection;
- approve the procedure for working with anti-corruption reports.
Special attention should be paid to improving the legislation on the protection of whistleblowers at the local level. TI Ukraine’s legal advisor Oleksandr Kalitenko commented that the first risk encountered by whistleblower is the threat of losing work if their identity is disclosed, so the focus shifts into the sector of labor rights and their effective protection.
Is the procedure (regulation) for dealing with corruption reports approved as a separate document or part of a larger document in a local self-government body? Does it contain: A) a list of internal and regular channels for reporting corruption; B) a separate document that determines the procedure for working with anonymous messages and messages indicating authorship; C) the deadlines for report verification; D) procedure to contest the decisions and actions/inaction of the authorized agency or commissioner?
“In 2020, the team of the Transparent Cities program started the development of a special online platform. The new tool will help residents, civil society, and local governments to engage in the measurement of accountability, to share and follow effective practices. Thanks to the support of the European Union, next year, TI Ukraine will present the Accountability Ranking of 50 Ukrainian cities,” said Olena Ogorodnik, Transparent Cities program manager.
The online presentation of the updated 2020 City Transparency Ranking methodology was made possible by the support of the European Commission and the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Transparency International Ukraine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission, USAID or the United States Government.