Six states assessed for their corruption risks
For the first time, Transparencia Venezuela has released the results of the State Governments Transparency Indicators (Indicadores de Transparencia de Gobernaciones), identifying which actions are being implemented by these public institutions to reduce corruption risks, and noting where weaknesses and incentives for corruption exist. The states examined were Carabobo, Lara, Miranda, Nueva Esparta, Táchira, and Vargas.
The general ranking was led by Miranda, with 69.37%, followed by Carabobo with 64.79%. Nueva Esparta ranked third with 56.99%, and Táchira ranked fourth with 55.09%, followed closely by Lara at 52.56%. Lastly, the state of Vargas made it to the sixth position with 33.37%.
After developing a pilot plan in 2009, this year the full set of instruments which comprise the Index of State Governments Transparency (Índice de Transparencia de Gobernaciones) were implemented. This has enabled the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of state governments' anti-corruption measures in key processes of state administration. These processes are: budgeting, public procurement, insurance contracting, human resources and bank holdings. The sub-processes include procedures and rules, oversight and accountability, access to public information and citizen participation.
The government of the state of Miranda was 31% above other governments in terms of bank holdings, and remained at the top in all other processes, with the exception of human resources, where the government of Nueva Esparta ranked first with 84%. Lara stood out in public procurement with 61%, and Vargas had a strong performance in human resources with 79%.
The processes with the greatest levels of transparency on average, that is, where state governments performed best, were human resources and budgeting; whereas the processes where state governments lag far behind are citizen participation and access to public information. Some good practices were observed, such as the adoption of systematic procedures to respond to requests for information regarding bank holdings by Miranda and Nueva Esparta; participatory budgeting exercises in Miranda, Lara and Carabobo; and the development and documentation of a policy for insurance contracting by Carabobo and Miranda.
Based on the results, Transparencia Venezuela recommends that all institutions devise and implement an anti-corruption plan that recognises the weaknesses, risks and incentives that may exist within their structures in order to take urgent steps to overcome them. This process should start with formal tasks, such as approving and using updated rules and procedures manuals, creating systematic and statistical records of each process, and adopting legislation to secure the right to access public information. Another aspect that demands urgent attention is the development of programmes that will ensure transparency in all administrative procedures, procurement practices, public works, and other processes in which public officials are responsible for the management and expenditure of funds and other public resources. Transparencia Venezuela emphasises the importance of ensuring that all public bodies generate and provide online information regarding procurement that is updated, clear and complete; create spaces for citizen participation in budgeting and procurement processes; and establish record keeping procedures.
The Indicators of State Governments Transparency DO NOT measure the levels of corruption in government institutions; instead, the system measures the degree of compliance with certain minimum anti-corruption mechanisms that state governments are required to observe by law, by identifying and promoting good administration practices that will ensure a better and more rigorous use of public funds.
Finally, Transparencia Venezuela called on all candidates for governor to take into account this information in their government agendas and in the campaign for the December 2012 elections.
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