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Cities and municipalities in BiH must be much more open to citizens

Alisa Karović

Municipalities and cities in BiH fulfill only slightly more than one third (36%) of the set indicators that give a complete overview of the openness of local self-government units in terms of transparency, accessibility, integrity and efficiency. Closure of power in BiH is recorded in several fields: from the inadequate implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information, through insufficient insight into the spending of public funds, to the use of outdated means of communication.

The measurements carried out between October and end of December 2016 in BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo showed that BiH is third in the region, behind Serbia and Montenegro. The regional outcome on the issue of openness of local self-government is devastating and it is only 34% on average, showed an analysis of the openness and accountability of the government carried out by regional networks of NGO “ActionSEE” through the Regional Openness Index of Government which measures the degree to which the institutions of the Western Balkan countries are open to citizens And society.

The survey encompassed 36 local self-government units in BiH, while a total of 144 municipalities were analyzed across the region through over 60 indicators per municipality, and implemented as part of the project “Network for Responsibility, New Technologies and Openness of Institutions in South East Europe”, which is being implemented With the EU’s financial support, and the project “Using New Media to Promote Government Transparency”, which supports the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The most satisfactory indicators, according to the four established principles in BiH, are Municipality of Sarajevo, 66% of them, while the least of the indicators satisfies the Glamoc Municipality, only 5%.

The principle of accessibility in the units of local self-government of BiH is satisfied with 35% of the set indicators. The best ranked unit of local self-government, according to this principle is the City of Siroki Brijeg, which meets 66% of the indicators, while the worst ranked municipalities are Petrovac (0%), Jezero and Glamoc (5%).

The survey showed that there is no uniform practice and the obligation to publish a registry of documents that the local government units have in possession, and very often on the web sites there is not a designated person in charge of resolving requests for access to information. Monitoring has shown that some local government units do not even have official websites. Therefore, it is necessary to establish more robust mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information, including an independent body whose decisions would be binding, and in addition to classic communication channels, local self-government units must use modern ways of communicating with citizens, ie online communication, E-consultation etc.

The efficiency principle in BiH’s local self-government units is satisfied with 46% of the indicators fulfilled. Monitoring and evaluation of work is carried out in 59% of analyzed local administrations, and regulations and internal acts have established the obligation and procedure for submitting regular annual reports to municipal / city councils by the mayor / mayor, and they regularly submit reports.

Strategic planning at the level of local self-government in BiH is satisfactory in only 37% of municipalities and cities.

A little less than half (47%) of the municipalities and cities surveyed have some form of development strategies, which in turn entails another, worrying fact that more than half of local self-government units do not adopt a development strategy. Therefore, the created recommendations emphasize that development strategies and openness promotion should be prepared and adopted in all municipalities and cities, and action plans implemented.

On the principle of integrity, local self-government units in BiH meet only a modest 18% of post-indicators, and the reason for such a bad result is not the existence of mechanisms for the prevention and prevention of conflicts of interest.

Local self-government units in BiH meet 37% of the set indicators in the domain of transparency. Municipalities and cities are not sufficiently transparent in terms of their budgets, organizational information, and public procurement procedures. The best ranked, according to the principle of transparency, is the city of Široki Brijeg (72% of satisfied indicators), and the worst is Glamoč Municipality with 0% of satisfied indicators, since there is no official website.

Less than half (42%) of municipalities and cities have published certain data on the names of civil servants, while the budget transparency of local self-government in BiH meets 37% of the set indicators. Citizens do not have the opportunity to analyze the budget through narrative and graphical explanations, which should be available to them through the documents “Budget for Citizens”. Of all the analyzed local self-government units in BiH, only the Municipality of Sarajevo Sarajevo and the Municipality of Novi Grad Sarajevo have the “Budget for Citizens”.

According to the principle of budget transparency, the best result was: Municipality of Gradačac with 81% of satisfactory indicators, the town of Široki Brijeg with 79% and the Municipality of Sarajevo Center with 73% of the indicators fulfilled, while the worst ranked Municipality of Jezero and the Municipality of Stari Stari grad with 0% satisfactory indicators . These municipalities do not have official websites. Public procurement plans are not published on official pages of local self-government units. There are generally no calls and decisions on public procurement, as well as any related contracts. Only 34% of municipalities and cities publish data related to public procurement procedures.

After conducting the research it can be concluded that special attention should be given to strengthening the financial transparency of municipalities and cities, since the local self-government units do not have a uniform practice of publishing financial information and documents. It is also necessary to establish a consistent practice of publishing budgets and reports on budget execution, and it is necessary to make available data related to the implementation of public procurement procedures, applying the principle of proactive transparency. In addition, Information about employees and internal organization should be available to citizens, respecting legal restrictions, and it is also necessary to introduce the practice of publishing the “Citizens’ Budget”, as well as ensuring the mandatory application of the principle for publishing data in open data format.

English version available on this link.