02 May 2024, 17:31
Increasing City Transparency. Recommendations from Transparent Cities

The results of the study of city council transparency, conducted by the Transparent Cities program, showed that only 5 cities out of 80 assessed were recognized as transparent. 65% of cities are still non-transparent. So, our team presents recommendations that will help increase the transparency of municipalities in wartime.

Ensure that citizens have proper access to decision-making processes through: 

  •  streams of meetings of the city council and its bodies (executive committee, standing commissions of the city council), along with advance announcements;
  • engaging citizens in the activities of consulting and advisory bodies, such as participation in councils addressing issues of IDPs, commissions reviewing applications for compensation for damaged property, and public commissions on housing issues;
  • development of websites for users with low vision. 

Why is this important? Given the largest migration crisis since independence, with 3.7 million Ukrainians internally displaced and unprecedented security risks, citizens' ability to influence the local context has been significantly diminished. Providing streams of city council and its bodies' meetings is a tool that enables residents to engage with the political agenda and respond to decisions made when necessary. Engaging citizens, including IDPs, in the development of policies will make them more effective and evidence based. Creating website versions accessible to users with low vision ensures that at least 19,000 people can access information and exert influence on local authorities. Given the ongoing active hostilities, the number of such people may increase. Hence, the demand for adapted web versions is increasingly pressing. 


Develop services and tools to help residents adapt to the challenges of war and streamline access to services amid significant security risks, in particular: 

  • creating opportunities to apply for social, educational, and housing services remotely;
  •  providing platforms for communication between the authorities and citizens (electronic petition systems, contact centers and complaint forms, information channels for IDPs);
  • publishing and updating lists of structures intended to shelter citizens (as a map, where possible).

Why is this important? Effective and rapid response to problems caused by large-scale infrastructure destruction, significant housing needs, and psychological, physical, and material damage is possible through the introduction of electronic tools. These initiatives optimize resources by reducing the number of employees involved, shortening the application acceptance time, and minimizing paperwork. Moreover, this transparent service delivery approach fosters inclusivity, ensuring that all social groups can access resource allocation regardless of their status or financial capabilities. Furthermore, the capability to file a complaint or petition serves as another mechanism to engage citizens in decision-making processes and address ongoing issues.  

We cannot help but stress the critical importance of maintaining a comprehensive and regularly updated list of shelters. In the past year alone, Ukrainians have heard sirens sounding 16,000 times, and the number of missiles launched by Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion has reached 7,500.


Select personnel transparently by publicly disclosing information about individuals appointed outside of competition.  

Why is this important? This approach will at least partially restore transparency to the personnel selection process, the decline of which has been noted even by international partners like the European Commission. It will also help build trust in appointed officials. 


Provide opportunities for monitoring the work of the authorities by:

  • mayor’s reporting;
  • quarterly publication of reports on the implementation of the city budget;
  • publication of documents adopted by the city council, its bodies, and officials on time and within the time period stipulated by law;
  • compliance with the principles of updating information, with a mandatory indication of both the date of publication and the date of information updates.

Why is this important? The legislative requirements aim to enhance accountability of local authorities and public oversight. They also aim to increase residents' awareness regarding the current state of municipal administration and the decisions made. Regularly updating the data and providing information on when it was last updated will enable businesses and citizens to assess its relevance.  


Ensure transparent accounting and distribution of humanitarian assistance to municipalities.

Why is this important? Millions of Ukrainians still require aid. Meanwhile, scandals involving the non-transparent distribution of assistance, as well as its embezzlement or misappropriation, arose during the second year of the full-scale invasion. Maintaining an adequate level of humanitarian support from partners becomes challenging without municipalities providing proper reporting on received assistance. 


Ensure transparent accounting and management of municipal property and land by publishing:

  •  current land lease agreements and lists of municipal land plots available for transfer to ownership or use;
  •  information about residential premises owned by the community and housing registration data;
  •  lists of all objects of movable and immovable property, as well as lists of municipal property available for lease or privatization

Why is this important? Providing information about municipal housing would help assess the available housing volumes within the community and determine if they can meet the current needs, especially for IDPs and the military. Transparent land and property management will enable cities to assess the resources available for generating additional income. This is particularly crucial given the context of redistributing personal income tax from the local to the special fund of the national budget. 


Ensure proper access to public information by:

  • full restoration of local open data portals and geoportals in cities where they remain closed, provided the security situation allows for it;
  • minimizing or avoiding restricting access to datasets (unless otherwise required by current regulatory acts);
  •  ensuring that datasets are open and machine-readable by default.

Why is this important? The proper functioning of the open data ecosystem is an integral part of transparent municipal governance and effective planning. Additionally, open data, given their accessibility and interoperability, enable the functioning of registries and geoinformation systems necessary for recovery. Ultimately, providing data in a machine-readable format will facilitate evidence-based decision-making, thereby enhancing the availability of statistics at the local level. The latter was particularly emphasized by the European Commission in the report on Ukraine's progress in European integration reforms.

According to the results of the study City Transparency under Air Strikes 2023: Is There Progress?, the overall level of transparency in 80 municipalities increased slightly and amounted to 42.3%. In 2022, among the 70 cities then studied, it was 37.5%. Some cities have shown that they can improve their results even in the most difficult times. Among the 70 city councils that participated in the 2022 and 2023 studies, 30 have improved their transparency levels by 5% or more. However, there were also cities that showed significant regression: 10–15%

Transparency in wartime helps cities better cope with the challenges caused by Russia's full-scale invasion. It makes them more resilient and tougher. Without transparency, the successful recovery of Ukraine, European integration, and the engagement of international partners are impossible.

Our team strives to make all cities more transparent and open to the public, so we are ready to cooperate with representatives of municipalities and active citizens. If you have questions or need personalized recommendations for your city, write to us at transparent-cities@ti-ukraine.org. If you represent civil society, we will be glad to share more insights and include you in our mailing and further training.

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