EU helps civic activists monitor local budgets​

The law obliges local authorities to report to their communities about all revenues and expenditures of the local budget. Sometimes, it is extremely difficult to navigate through piles of complex financial documents, especially without specialized education. Still, there are available services today, where budget information is presented in a simple and comprehensible form.

Public interest in budget expenditures is constantly increasing. In recent years, a number of regulatory documents have been adopted in Ukraine, aimed to make the process of budget spending more open and accessible. However, not all local authorities fully comply with legislative requirements. Ordinary citizens often do not have access to information about public spending, or receive this information in a limited and hard-to-comprehend form.

That’s what Eidos Center does, having developed Open Budget, a special portal that transforms tables and databases into a comprehensible system of visualizations. Simply put, instead of complex financial statements, a user sees interactive cards and infographics. This way, all revenues and expenditures of a local budget are presented in a simple and accessible form, and most importantly, in layman’s terms.

Ivano-Frankivsk has been represented in the Open Budget service for quite a while. The portal offers several modules revealing information not always publicly accessible by the city’s residents, let alone the convenient format. Not everyone living in this city knows about the feature allowing them to keep track of information about the spending of public funds in a fast and comprehensible way. The Anticorruption Platform shows people of Ivano-Frankivsk how to control local budget expenditures without leaving the home. To begin with, let’s go to the Ivano-Frankivsk page on the Open Budget website by clicking here.

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On this portal, you can view visualization of financial statements filed by most of the city’s communal enterprises, and even find information about transactions of particular controllers of budget funds. Let’s check out the Budget on the Map module, where the city authorities have recently uploaded the data for 2018.

Everything the local authorities lay, install and repair is shown on the interactive Repair Map. In particular, this map features 167 sites. It shows the particular projects on which the city authorities are going to spend or have already spent budget funds: from major renovation of the secondary school No 25 including replacement of windows to installation of lawns and tree planting at vul. Dovha.

According to Mykhailo Smushak, Director of Department for Housing and Communal Policy and Beautification, this test project concerns the main areas of his department’s responsibility.

“We have plans shown in the so-called title lists of our budget, highlighted in separate strips. When they show up, we indicate on the map the work we plan to do. And when a particular work is completed, we also indicate that it has been completed. We have a special person responsible for these matters and for publication of information on the website”, Mykhailo Smushak explains.

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It is worth noting that presently, Ivano-Frankivsk “Repair Map” encompasses such sectors as education, housing, utilities and beautification. It is convenient for, say, parents who can check whether the school their children attend is going to be renovated this year. Users can also check in what street a new illumination system will be installed, what roads are being repaired, what courtyard will receive a children’s playground or where a new garden will be planted, and most importantly, how much money from the city budget will be spent on these projects.

In addition, every site of public works contains information about completed or planned repair work, name of the controller of funds, contractor’s name, estimated cost of work, work completion timeframe, warranty terms, etc. All that information comes from open sources (e-data, Prozorro, Opendatabot, Unified State Register of Legal and Natural Persons, Unified State Register of Court Judgments).

Why is it convenient?

  • You can quickly find information yourself about what is going to be done in a particular apartment building’s courtyard or neighborhood;
  • You can check how city authorities fulfill particular promises to the community;
  • You can compare particular districts / neighborhoods and see whether the city council equally cares about all parts of the city, and what district needs greater attention;
  • You can check how much money was allocated to a particular work project and whether the quality of work justifies the amount spent on it.

Finally, if there is something wrong with a particular work project and you discover “treason”, the webpage of every project has the button “Send a complaint”. It helps the city authorities to better control the fulfillment of planned repair and beautification projects, and it allows the city’s residents to have a say in the improvement of urban space and educational institutions.

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The interactive “Repair Map” proves that even the most complex budget processes can be presented in an accessible and comprehensible form. Such a presentation of information excites greater interest within the community in the performance of local authorities, and therefore, in controlling them.

*This article was prepared as part of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative Ukraine, the largest program of the EU’s support for Ukraine in combating corruption.

This program is financed by the EU and co-financed and implemented by Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).

By Anticorruption Platform, an association of active citizens of Ivano-Frankivsk

Source – Trymai Kurs

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