Foundation for Local Government Reform
FLGR Awarded Prizes for Transparency in Local Government

The Foundation for Local Government Reform and the Local Government Initiative Program, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development, initiated in early 2004 a Campaign for Transparency in the Municipalities. The campaign targets all Bulgarian municipalities. Its purpose is to increase the transparency in the operation of the municipal councils and the municipal administrations, thus increasing citizens trust in local government and encouraging citizen participation.

FLGR s and LGI s partners in the implementation of the campaign included the National Association of the Municipalities, the regional associations of municipalities and the professional associations of municipal specialists.

This year s campaign included activities aimed at strengthening local government transparency :

- A self-assessment questionnaire was disseminated among the municipalities to establish the extent of transparency in their operations;

- A Communications Plan was developed and disseminated among all municipalities;

- A Demonstration Team of 17 pilot municipalities was formed, on a competitive basis, which proved their willingness to apply new transparency practices and transfer their experience to other municipalities.

FLGR established a Transparency in Local Government Award, with two categories : Most Transparently Operating Municipality; and Best Transparency Practice in a Risk Area . The start of the Transparency Competition was announced by FLGR s Executive Director, Ginka Kapitanova, at the Second Annual Meeting of Bulgarian Local Authorities (October 6 8, 2004).

29 innovative practices from different areas of municipal operations were submitted by December 6, the final deadline for the Best Transparency Practice in a Risk Area category. The nominated municipalities included Vulchi Dol, Montana, Razgrad, Silistra, Smyadovo and Strumyani. The Municipality of Vulchi Dol was awarded the third prize and a honorary certificate for the practice Let s Lift the Curtain on Bids: Transparent and Effective Municipal Property Management. The Municipality of Smyadovo got the second prize and a honorary certificate for the practice A New Way of Appointing Bidding Committees: A Method Preventing Corruption Attempts.

The first prize in the Best Transparency Practice in a Risk Area category was awarded to the Municipality of Razgrad for the practice Effective Control on the Implementation of Contractual Terms in Deals under the Municipal Property Act.

17 municipalities competed in the Most Transparently Operating Municipality category. These were all municipalities that: apply most of the practices included in the Transparency Questionnaire; have formed municipal teams covering both the municipal council and the municipal administration, citizens, business and media; have implemented an impressive number of new practices in the current year; and have developed and adopted programs and plants with regard to transparency. The following municipalities were nominated in this category: Berkovitsa, Dobrich, Mezdra, Pleven, Razgrad, Stara Zagora and Strumyani.

The third place honorary diploma in this category was awarded to the Municipality of Berkovitsa. The Municipality of Berkovitsa is implementing 79% of the practices included in the Questionnaire, has implemented 24 new practices and has planned 12 practices for the near future.

The second place was divided between two municipalities, Strymyani and Stara Zagora. The Municipality of Stara Zagora demonstrated an exceptionally high percentage of implementation of practices included in the Questionnaire 92%, while the Municipality of Strumyani registered an extraordinary development in their implementation from 45% in May to 80% in November. Both municipalities have successfully analyzed their efforts towards transparency, have teams with wide representation and have developed successful programs and plans.

The winner in the Most Transparently Operating Municipality category was the Municipality of Pleven. The Municipality of Pleven was exceptionally active during the 2004 Campaign for Transparency in the Municipalities and within the Demonstration team on Transparency. The Municipality is implementing 81% of the practices included in the Questionnaire, has implemented 18 new practices and has planned 25 more practices in its Increasing the Transparency of Municipal Council and Municipal Administration Operations Program. The program is a carefully thought and useful document that may serve as a model for other municipalities willing to implement similar actions.

FLGR would like to thank all participant municipalities for their innovative ideas and noble efforts towards establishing transparency as the only way of democratic governance. We would also like to thank the Local Government Initiative team for their support and the valuable experience they shared with the Bulgarian municipalities!

We believe that the Local Government Transparency Award will become a tradition, and that over the following years the Campaign for Transparency will cover more and more Bulgarian municipalities, will continue to build high standards of local government operations and will encourage citizen participation.

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