Strengthening local government integrity

Filed under - Politics and government

article image

What’s at stake?

More and more we see powers, responsibilities and budgets devolved from the central government down to the local level. From social welfare to commercial licensing, health and education, local governments are playing a greater role designing policies and delivering key public services.

Although decentralisation processes can help strengthen accountability by bringing government closer to the people, decentralisation can also present corruption risks since corruption is a problem at all levels of government. Local officials may have greater vested interests based on family, friendship and business ties that can influence decision-making. Wages at the local level can be low in comparison to the national level and institutions designed to hold local public officials to account are not always adequate.

Image of sign saying 'danger due to bad mayor'

It is at the local level where citizens and the public sector interact most regularly and directly – be it registering for school, attending a health clinic or applying for social housing. So when corruption occurs locally, the impact on citizens’ lives can be the most damaging, with the poorest being hit the hardest.

When elections are rigged, bribes paid in order to access basic services, and public funds diverted into private hands, the public good comes second; citizens’ interests are harmed and trust in those that govern us is eroded.

At the same time, opportunities for direct civil society engagement and oversight are greatest at the local level, providing an opportunity of strengthening integrity and accountability through civic oversight.

What we’re doing about it

When transparency, accountability and integrity are put at the heart of local governance systems the risks of corruption are reduced. Citizens can participate in and influence policy design and implementation, and hold local officials to account for their decisions. Local government officials act effectively in the public interest and are open about their activities and take responsibility for them.

Transparency International promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in local governance, regardless of size and context, to ensure that corruption cannot take root.

Who’s involved

Transparency International chapters in many countries have worked on aspects of local governance, from city-level transparency projects to tech tools that help citizens report on local problems. Chapters in several countries, from Argentina to Senegal, have also piloted our Local Integrity System tool (see below).

Our approach

We address local-level corruption through a holistic approach, which aims at strengthening Local Integrity Systems. This approach is based on the belief that a functioning Local Integrity System with strong institutions and oversight systems, which ensure high levels of transparency, accountability and integrity in local governance, is the most effective way to prevent and sanction corruption at the local level.

  • By assessing the existence and effectiveness of procedures to promote these principles at the local level, we can identify risks and advocate for reforms.
  • The Local Integrity System assessment allows our chapters and other civil society organisations to develop recommendations and conduct evidence-based advocacy, which seeks to engage key local governance stakeholders in the development of a strategic local integrity plan.
  • Working with our network of national chapters, we develop and implement innovative approaches to enable citizens and civil society to better participate in local decision-making, monitor local officials and advocate for improved laws and practice.

Assessing local level integrity for evidence based advocacy

The Local Integrity System (LIS) Tool assesses the effectiveness of procedures and mechanisms to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in order to fight corruption at the local level, provides recommendations on areas for reform and develops a follow-up action plan for strengthening local integrity in collaboration with key local stakeholders. The LIS supports a process of continuous improvement of local integrity systems through long-term engagement between civil society and other key stakeholders.

The tool has been successfully piloted in five countries: Argentina, Kenya, Palestine, Portugal and Senegal. Other reports coming soon

Municipal Transparency Indices

Indices and rankings have proven to be an effective advocacy tool to foster upward competition between governments (or companies) by fostering a ‘race to the top’. So far, no index exists to assess the transparency or integrity of local governments. Transparency International has developed and is currently piloting a Municipal Transparency Index to assess and rank a selected number of local governments and municipalities within a country. More information on this index and methodology is forthcoming.

More...

Contact us

José María Marín, Head of Public Sector Integrity Programme (Acting)
jmarin@transparency.org

Michel Gary, Senior Programme Coordinator
mgary@transparency.org



Country / Territory - International   
Region - Global   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Accountability   |   Civil society   |   Governance   |   Law enforcement   |   Politics and government   |   Public services   

Related news

TI and TI-UK holding joint workshop at OGP Summit in Paris

Transparency International Secretariat together with Transparency International UK are holding a joint workshop at the Open Government Partnership ...

The time for justice, equity, security and trust is now

The 17th IACC with the theme Time for Justice: Equity, Security, Trust concluded on 4 December in Panama City.

4
Dec
2016

17 International Anti-Corruption Conference: The time for justice, equity, security and trust is now

The 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) with the theme Time for Justice: Equity, Security, Trust concluded today in Panama City with ...

3
Dec
2016

Transparency International supports the Carwash Task Force in their fight for independence

At the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Panama, the 13 prosecutors of the Carwash Operation said today they are ready to ...

Related publications

Publication cover image

People and Corruption: Europe and Central Asia 2016

Europe has seen a surge in recent years of support for populist and nationalist movements – from Spain to the UK to Turkey. The reasons are ...

Report published – Nov 2016

Publication cover image

Fighting Corruption in the Western Balkans and Turkey: Priorities for Reform

Since the early 1990s, with the ever-increasing prospect of integration into the European Union, the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey have ...

National Integrity System assessment published – Nov 2016

Related blog posts

The FATF report on the USA: More roof than holes on average

You arrive in a new city on a rainy day and check into your top floor hotel room, only to find the roof is leaking. When ... [read more]

Posted on 05 Dec 2016 by Shruti Shah

Cleaning up Georgia’s elections

Georgians are getting the message: elections are important and tampering with the process has consequences. This year, ... [read more]

Posted on 28 Nov 2016 by Levan Natroshvili

Why are three of the world’s richest countries doing so little to stop corruption?

One of the best-known data points in the anti-corruption field is the estimate from Global Financial Integrity that US$ ... [read more]

Posted on 18 Oct 2016 by Alesia Nahirny

Benin’s fight against corruption is only beginning

The Republic of Benin is one of West Africa’s most stable countries. Sandwiched between Nigeria and Togo to the east ... [read more]

Posted on 11 Oct 2016 by Samuel Kaninda

What are the candidates hiding?

A September 21 Gallup survey concluded that, “At no point in the last four decades have Americans expressed less trust ... [read more]

Posted on 08 Oct 2016 by Marian Currinder