Internews in Ukraine and UNDP in Ukraine decided to unite their efforts and expertise in order to address the gap created by the lack of access to municipal budgeting data. So the 6-months pilot takes a two-pronged approach of:
- equipping target municipalities willing to open up budgeting data with tools for budget visualization and;
- training data journalists and bloggers from these target municipalities to use open budget tools to effectively increase awareness of the constituencies on budget tracking and monitoring.
During January and February, 2014, UNDP will elaborate the criteria for selection of the potential target municipalities and design the application form for the municipalities. Written commitment from the city administration will be a pre-requisite for participation in the competition, and will include: readiness to open up budget data; co-designing relevant digital solutions through a collaboration with civil society and journalists; investing into the maintenance of the designed digital tool to be utilized at the municipality website or at a separate location.
The call for applications will be disseminated to the cities, and three municipalities will be selected for the project. In March, 2014 2-days workshops will be organized in selected municipalities. The workshops will bring civil servants, civil society workers, ICT experts, and journalists together to create ways in which municipal budget information can be better shared with the public. Overall, up to 50 people will participate in 3 “Itch Workshops” sessions.
Day 1 of the event will be dedicated to raising awareness of 2-3 civil society activists, 1-2 journalists and/or bloggers per municipality on the issues of the budget cycle, the budget procedures, in-flows and common line-items, as well as the data that is available (or should be available according to the legislation). Representatives of the municipality departments entrusted with fiscal data will participate in a brainstorming event on
Day 2. These public officials will be accompanied by relevant datasets to work with and will actively participate in the teamwork aimed at creating a prototype of the digital solution that they would like to develop. The process of developing a prototype solution will be supported and guided by mentors and advisers. Modalities for development of the full-fledged beta-versions will be agreed for each of the winners and the development will start. As a result 3 internet tools will be prototyped and further developed in order to maximize local governments’ communications potential.
UNDP will work with the municipalities through strategic advice of its knowledge management specialists at the level of UNDP’s regional bureau for Europe and the CIS and by providing digital specialists to transform the prototypes into operating tools.
Internews will launch an education course for 15 journalists from selected municipalities in March, 2014. The course combines off-line and on-line meetings, thus participants will pass 2 webinars covering the Law on access to public information, journalists rights and local budget formations principles issues. In the beginning of April the journalists will be gathered for 2-day training on finding, interpreting, visualizing, and reporting information from financial databases. The trainers will introduce digital tools to help journalists produce data-driven stories that raise financial literacy in underserved communities.
After the training Internews will work with journalist community to keep pressure on the municipalities to follow through with their commitments to use the new transparency tools in consultation with their constituencies.
During May-June the developed Internet tools will be launched, trained journalists will publish their stories on budget issues, UNDP and Internews will collect success stories from the pilot projects and share though electronic channels. Scaling up of the pilot will also take place through the “innovation for good governance” work advanced by UNDP Ukraine. The results will also be scaled-up through the Ukrainian Association of E-Governance Cities, a UNDP Ukraine partner organization.
[Guest Blog post written by Mariya Kozubskaya, project manager for the Open Budget Pilot porject in Ukraine]