Madrid, 24 March 2021Access Info together with its partners in the pan-European project ACT! have presented a range of technical solutions for local governments to increase their levels of transparency and prevent any risk of corruption, covering the following areas: whistleblowing, access to information, open data in public procurement, transparency of meetings involving public officials and risk analysis.

The tools were presented on 23 March at the ACT! International Conference, where the project partner organisations gathered together with local governments representatives from all over the world and with members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Local Programme.

Local governments need tools and training to fight better against corruption and to enhance open government principles, as a recent Access Info survey found out. But tools alone won’t make a significant change, “we need a solid ecosystem that fosters a culture of access to information and transparency inside the local governments and public administrations,” said Rudi Borrmann, OGP Deputy Director, and Head of the OGP Local Programme.

Many local governments are working hard to advance towards more transparent and democratic institutions. Antonio Relaño, Transparency General Director at the Municipality of Madrid, shared relevant experiences, including setting up a Municipal Antifraud Office — which runs a Whistleblower channel — and a new legislative footprint system. “The cultural change in the public administration has already happened. Now we are adjusting and planning how to move forward, but there is no way back,” said Relaño.

Fabrizio Dall’Acqua, Secretary General of the Municipality of Milan, also shared their experience of implementing a whistleblowing reporting platform, similar to the one offered under the ACT! Project. Between 2015 and 2020, they almost tripled the number of reports received, and 79% of the whistleblowers chose to report anonymously.

There are, nevertheless, areas where local governments are still lagging behind in measures to fight corruption, and one such is the publication of public procurement data. “There is a lack of standardisation and continuous regulation changes that make it hard to harmonise the publication of public procurement data,” commented Andrea Nelson Mauro, co-founder of the NGO OnData. He recommended that procurement data be published using the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS) to ensure interoperability across Europe.

The technical solutions for local governments presented at the ACT! International Conference include:

  • Whistleblowing platform: An open source reporting platform, using Globaleaks software, that protects the anonymity of whistleblowers, and that can be easily implemented by any local government.
  • Self-assessment tools: Online surveys that evaluate the access to information rules and its implementation, providing bespoke recommendations to improve both the rules and its implementation, and the internal risk analysis systems to improve the systems in place to prevent corruption.
  • Publication tools: technical solutions to publish public procurement data following the OCDS, and information of the elected representatives, such as their assets declarations, agendas, meetings with lobbyists, and more.

You can find more information about the Anticorruption City Toolkit on the ACT! website.

Access Info is part of the ACT! Project (Anticorruption City Toolkit), co-funded by the European Commission, together with Transparency International Italy, OnData, Openpolis, Avviso Pubblico and Re-Act in Italy, and Vouliwatch in Greece. The project also involved the participation of three of the main municipalities in the three participating countries: Athens, Madrid and Milan.