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TRANSPARENCY INDEX OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES 2022

Transparency International LATVIA (TI Latvia, Delna) has re-evaluated the level of transparency on the websites of Latvian local authorities one year after the administrative territorial reform and municipal elections. The evaluation is part of TI Latvia’s work in promoting transparency and responsibility of local governments and continuation of the pilot study “Transparency Index of Local Authorities” carried out in 2021 together with Transparency International NORWAY.

While working on the reassessment, TI Latvia improved the methodology of the previous study, consulted with the representatives of the private, state and local government sector (including The Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments), assessed not only the formal nature of the publication of the information, but also how the information is provided by the municipality to its user.

The assessment reveals the information publishing practices in eight areas:

  • policy and decision-making,
  • organisational structure and administration,
  • finance and use of public funds,
  • public participation mechanisms,
  • anti-corruption and ethics,
  • public procurement,
  • ownership and finance of municipally owned enterprises and
  • the subjective user experience.

 

The new Law on Local Governments, which could enter into force January 1, 2023, will demand more transparency from local governments on decision-making processes and the use of public funds, as well as call for strengthened cooperation with citizens. Consequently, such an assessment becomes a point of reference, to judge improvements and outline further work to be done to promote transparency in municipalities and the country as a whole.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of the reassessment show that the ratings of the 2022 websites remain average, scoring 15.5–22 points (out of 40), the highest obtained result is 23 points. Although municipalities have scored higher in 40 indicators in 8 areas, this is largely due to the fact that this year we improved the methodology and the total number of indicators increased by 3, respectively, also increasing the maximum number of points to be obtained to 40.

As in the 2021 study, high scores are mostly scored by municipalities with the largest population with a corresponding increase in active citizenship and available resources to ensure the availability of information. It should be noted that no municipality has consistently improved performance in all 40 indicators, but overall, there is a gradual positive shift towards transparency. The best results for all municipalities, similar to the previous year’s evaluation, are in the field of organisational structure and administration. It should be noted that on the websites where this information is inserted, it is most often placed qualitatively. The results of the 2022 evaluation lead us to believe that the enrolment of Latvian municipalities in the direction of promoting transparency has a positive trend. Although the improvements are noticeable, the lowest results are still the fight against corruption and in the field of ethics.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the previous analysis and taking into account the settings of the new law, transparency of local authorities and civic engagement, TI Latvia recommends the government and decision-makers at the national and regional level strengthen the work in terms of information availability and user-experience:

  • Insertion of an archive of information in all areas, because for a full assessment of the situation it may be important to see the process or decision in a broader context;
  • Regular updating of information, due to residents and others it is in the interests of visitors to gain an understanding of the current situation, this also reflects the willingness of the municipality to establish a dialogue;
  • The names of documents and sections of the website should be accurate, explanatory;
  • In cases where information is available through external links, for example, municipal enterprise or national level resources, provide an explanation of how information can be found on these external resources;
  • Communication with citizens in general needs to be improved by providing an outline, for example, of: the possibility of participation in public consultations, council meetings, as well as submissions, whistleblowing reports and complaints. It should not be only limited to the publication of relevant laws and regulations;
  • In order to improve communication and promote the goals of a transparent municipality, a user-friendly website that allows information to reach the resident is essential. The information contained in the page should be visible and its structure should be designed to make the page more perceptible and the information more meaningful.

 

Full report in Latvian is available here ->

 

This post is published with the financial support of the Transparency Foundation. TI Latvia is responsible for the content of the post.

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