Recently, Transparency International Latvia in partnership with TI Norway have presented the Transparency Index of Local Authorities. It is a pilot study aimed at assessing the transparency level of 41 municipalities in Latvia and 10 municipalities in Norway. The study is based on measuring the level of information disclosure on local government websites.
International experience was used to develop the research methodology, including the experience of TI Ukraine’ Transparent Cities program.
Transparency assessment was measured in 7 areas:
- Policy and decision-making processes
- Organizational structure
- Finances and public funds use
- Public participation mechanisms
- Anti-corruption and ethics
- Public Procurement
- Utility Ownership and Finance
What's interesting about the results of the study?
- The largest cities (including Jūrmala and Riga in Latvia, Oslo and Sandnes in Norway) performed better than smaller localities. The researchers attribute this result to the activity of entrepreneurs and the public, as well as to the concentration of resources in large cities.
- Norwegian municipalities have, on average, performed worse than Latvian municipalities in certain areas, such as anti-corruption. This may be due to the fact that Norway has better results in the Corruption Perceptions Index*, which means that the public is less interested in the control of local authorities and the demand for information is lower.
- In both countries, local authorities received the highest scores in the area of “Organizational Structure,” while the areas of “Anti-Corruption and Ethics” and “Utility Ownership and Finance” were the least transparent. The researchers point out that even though the level of democratic development is high, the lack of information disclosure creates risks of corruption at the level of local authorities. And for positive changes in the direction of transparency, legislative changes are not enough — active engagementt of the civil society is necessary.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an annual ranking of countries around the world, concluded by Transparency International since 1995. Countries in the ranking are ordered by the level of corruption, based on the assessments of entrepreneurs and analysts. The full text of the study is available in English at the link.