Municipal Transparency

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Municipal Transparency

Venezuela
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Project Municipios Transparentes (transparent municipalities) is a group of programs aimed at strengthening the capacities of the local governments and citizen and community organizations, in matters related to the struggle against corruption. Minimizing the risk of corruption means working in prevention and control over the administration of public officers along with the community.
The centre of the Project is the System of Indicators of Municipal Transparency (SIMT), a group of instruments and procedures that allow us to measure the administration transparency (budget, contracts and permits) of the municipalities. With the SIMT we collect, process and make public a precise diagnosis on the level of compliance with the system norms that would assure a minimum of protection against corruption, according to the law. With this information, municipalities can plan in the short and long term to reduce corruption levels. During three consecutive years we have incremented the number of audited city halls; in 2004 we evaluated 8 municipalities, in 2005 we evaluated 50 and in 2006 69.
A second program is the promotion and defense of the right to access public information, advanced by the training of public officers and citizens.
The third program is the Transparency Award, granted every year to municipalities that scored the highest results in the SIMT evaluations. The forth program is Expo Transparency 2006 and finally the sixth program is the SIMT website.
www.transparenciamunicipal.org.ve will make make easier the processing of the data form the evaluations and will allow free access of results for those who are interested.
Another program is a policy initiative, Bill for the Access to Public Information. We are working on a municipal bill that would give us the legal tools to access public information, according to our Constitution.

About You
Location
Project Street Address
Project City
Project Province/State
Project Postal/Zip Code
Project Country
Your idea
Focus of activity

Institutional Development

Year the initative began (yyyy)

2004

Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram,
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Lack of Accountability & Transparency

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Foment Transparency

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Barrera propuesta: La debilidad institucional y ciudadana como incentivo de la corrupción.
Las instituciones, es decir, el conjunto de leyes, sistemas, procedimientos, actores y mecanismos de control y sanción responsables de la actuación de los ciudadanos sobre lo público, se encuentran en estado de debilidad, cuando la brecha (gap) entre las obligaciones del marco legal o social y lo que ocurre en la realidad es “significativo” o “importante”.

Principio propuesto: El valor de la información y la medición objetiva para la planificación de la gestión pública y de la veeduría ciudadana (o contraloría social).

Innovation
Description of initiative

The Project Municipios Transparentes (transparent municipalities) is a group of programs aimed at strengthening the capacities of the local governments and citizen and community organizations, in matters related to the struggle against corruption. Minimizing the risk of corruption means working in prevention and control over the administration of public officers along with the community.
The centre of the Project is the System of Indicators of Municipal Transparency (SIMT), a group of instruments and procedures that allow us to measure the administration transparency (budget, contracts and permits) of the municipalities. With the SIMT we collect, process and make public a precise diagnosis on the level of compliance with the system norms that would assure a minimum of protection against corruption, according to the law. With this information, municipalities can plan in the short and long term to reduce corruption levels. During three consecutive years we have incremented the number of audited city halls; in 2004 we evaluated 8 municipalities, in 2005 we evaluated 50 and in 2006 69.
A second program is the promotion and defense of the right to access public information, advanced by the training of public officers and citizens.
The third program is the Transparency Award, granted every year to municipalities that scored the highest results in the SIMT evaluations. The forth program is Expo Transparency 2006 and finally the sixth program is the SIMT website.
www.transparenciamunicipal.org.ve will make make easier the processing of the data form the evaluations and will allow free access of results for those who are interested.
Another program is a policy initiative, Bill for the Access to Public Information. We are working on a municipal bill that would give us the legal tools to access public information, according to our Constitution.

Innovation

a. The promotion of transparency and the information collected will minimize the risk of corruption in the Venezuelan municipalities. We don’t call the municipalities with low scores corrupt, since we cannot prove acts of corruption, we just say that they have a higher risk of corruption and we make recommendations to improve. This way public officers don’t become our enemies, but vital allies in our struggle against corruption.

b. Work at the municipal level: in 2004 it was an innovative decision to concentrate our anticorruption efforts at the municipal level looking to strengthen the decision making units where citizens can see a more clear impact act on it.
c. Coordinate three strategies to act in the short and medium term: 1. Promotion of transparency. Create and strengthen systems of control, mechanisms to access public information and to contribute to the discussion of ethical issues and transparency in public actions at the municipal, regional and national levels; 2.Propose systems and control, monitoring, follow up and evaluation mechanisms, 3. Strenghtenment of citizenship. Development of meetings, workshops, seminars and forums to educate citizens on the mechanisms and tools to fight against corruption. d. Unify practices with innovative systems that would create synergies by combining a measuring system, an award, publication of a transparency rating generating competition among municipalities and goals to reach, 5. Promotion and exchange among municipalities.

Delivery Model

1. Press release and visits to the media at the end of the evaluations with the results and impact of the measurement, the presentation of results is very welcomed by the media.
2. A detailed report is prepared for each municipality and delivered directly to their majors.
3. Among the most significant activities we have the contacts made with the municipalities and the academia institutions, building alliances to strengthen our work. We call private meetings with mayors and directors from the regions to present the evaluations results and to answer their questions, observations and to discuss the recommendations and other programs (training, etc).
4. Promotion through the website: the results are posted and we send the results to our mailing list.
5. Tours around the country to present the results s from citizen organizations and the media. As well as to listen to suggestions, impacts and how our recommendations are received; promotion exchange and good practices and to get a grasp on the needs of communities and municipalities.
6. Presentation of the Project in different local, regional, national and international forums.
Impact: Indicators:
1. Improvement of the scores compared to the past evaluations
2. Number of municipalities that ask to be incorporated or participate in the meetings to review the results.
3. Amount and quality of information, experiences and good practices Exchange between mayors.
4. Value of the Transparency Award

Key Operational Partnerships

1. the municipalities where we launched the pilot programs in 2004. The majority is committed to achieve transparent municipalities, understanding the impact that it has over the generation of trust and the creation of social value and quality of life.
2. Universities and organizations involved in the applications of measurement instruments. They are in charge of auditing the municipalities and to apply perception surveys, to follow up with the municipalities and to promote the results.
3. the Finish Embassy in 2005 and 2007 and the Norwegian Embassy in 2006 and 2007. These countries have the highest international transparency, governability and quality of life rankings, and make a good reference that challenges us and encourage us to move forward.

Impact
Financial Model

The Project contemplates the production of different informational materials and comprehensive publications on the methodology and manuals. All of these resources are available in our website and can be downloaded at no cost.

What percentage, if any, of the total operating costs does earned income (from products, services, or other fees) represent?

14%

How is the initiative financed? Is it financially self-sustainable or profitable? How much do beneficiaries contribute?

During the first years the program was financed almost entirely by the Embassies of Finland and Norway. It was not appropriate to charge the municipalities for an evaluation. The hight political distrust and the polarization in Venezuela could lead to misinterpretation and the disqualification of the results. In 2006 we started to charge for some of our programs. The plan is to increase the generation of our resources.

Effectiveness

: During 2006, Transparencia Venezuela made a leap forward evaluating 69 municipalities from 19 states in the country. This expansion confirmed the importance of the program and its consolidation as a useful and necessary tool for the municipalities.
We have confirmed the impact of several indicators: the improvement of the scores. In 2005 only 14% of the municipalities obtained scores higher than 50/100. In 2006 44% of them obtained more than 50/100.
The average store in 2005 was 34/100. In 2006 the average store was 43/100.
In general terms municipalities improved, even if they don’t reach a 50/100 score.
Municipalities have began to include the issue of transparency in their radar, their programs and their public policies, going from speeches to concrete action.

Which element of the program proved itself most effective?

Being able to identify which is the weakness that we have to address or overcome and to see what are the best solutions. Move from the abstract talks on corruption and find out what each one of us can do to reduce it.

Number of clients in the last year?

We plan to reach 100 municipalities in 2007, including the main cities; we are close to make an impact in 60% of the country population.
For 2006 we had 7 teams of regional coordinators and 52 auditors in the country.

What is the potential demand?

The municipal counsels, the directors of the different departments of each municipality. The members of the organizations, community counsels, local public planning counsels, neighbors’ organizations and citizen assemblies. They all have the need for updated and objective information as well as training and access to good practices on exercising the right to access public information.
The mayors have stated in several occasions that this is the first evaluation tool they have access to know their strengths and weaknesses in the area of corruption.

Scaling up Strategy

Incorporate all 355 Venezuelan municipalities Replicate the methodology in at least one other Latin American country.
Incorporate other processes to the SIMT such as construction permits.

Stage of the initiative

1

Expansion plan

We have received requests to replicate the tools from other American, European and Asian countries through the chapters Transparency International, Mayors associations and municipalities’ experts.

Origin of the Initiative

In 2002 we needed to change the activities we were developing with the municipalities. Concerned by the gravity of the political situation and the polarization, we sought a way to get together the actors of the two competing parties in a discussion and work that was common to both of them. As a result we created the network of transparent municipalities, integrated by 8 municipalities. These municipalities signed an agreement to work towards transparency. But we wanted to know haw was the corruption, where were the problems, we needed information that didn’t exist. In 2003 with the participation of Transparency International and the study of the measuring instruments, we started working to obtain resources (funding, experts, partners, tools, etc). We didn’t want perceptual data but first hand contrastable information, free from political interests and the mayors will to collaborate.

Sustainability
Main Obstacles to Scaling Up

Los cambios políticos en Venezuela son un reto constante y un reto a la creatividad y la búsqueda de caminos novedosos que muestren impacto y cambios claramente.
Para la expansión se requiere mayor fortaleza de la organización, más gente capacitada, comprometida, con impulso e interés por lo público. Los recursos siempre es un reto a superar para poder contratar equipo de alto nivel y comprometidos que se mantengan en la organización por años. Esto también tiene que ver con fortalecer y mejorar las alianzas con los centros de coordinación en las regiones (universidades etc.)

Main Financial Challenges

Quisiéramos contar con financiamiento de muchas fuentes distintas, que el programa no dependa solo de pocos fuentes, para hacerlo más estable. Hasta ahora la empresa privada venezolana no se ha atrevido a invertir, pero ya tuvimos un primer éxito con ExpoTransparencia y continuaremos buscando a manera en que sea atractivo ser transparente e invertir en transparencia.
El otro desafió es poder cobrar a los municipios por los programas que aplicamos sin pedir el respeto y confianza por la información que presentamos.
Montos: contar con un monto de $500.000 en los próximos tres años permitiria darle estabilidad al proyecto.

Main Partnership Challenges

Ya contamos con un modelo de alianza que ha sido mejorada en estos tres años, pero las alianzas requieres mucha atención, seguimiento, dedicación, dar respuestas, poder dar respuesta a solicitudes, dudas, nuestras actividades, etc. Requerimos agregar un profesional al equipo que atienda esta necesidad especialmente.

La otra cosa es contar con un portal mucho más ágil, pero sobre todo con una persona dedicada a atenderlos, alimentarlos, crear foros, charlas, responder, generar información constantemente, que se convierta en una fuente de demanda de actividades para toda la organización.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate?

Me la envio Gaston Wright, Global Fellowship de Ashoka: Innovators for the Public