The goal of this pilot is to support at least three municipal communities in Ukraine in designing effective digital tools for budget visualization and analysis, sustaining them over time and ensuring effective collaboration between the municipality, local journalists, and civil society to ultimately make municipal budgets, as well as the decision-making process, more transparent and participatory.
The latest Open Budget Index (OBI) Survey Report 2012 emphasizes that Ukraine fell in its budget transparency scores by more than 5 points from 2010 to 2012. Whereas OBI measures national budget characteristics, local-level fiscal transparency in the country is in even more dire straits, leaving Ukraine trailing behind other emerging democracies in terms of transparency.
According to the most recent study, only 10% of municipal websites have sufficient instruments for receiving citizen feedback or providing interactive service delivery (including informational services). This translates into the inability of citizens to find budgeting information or weigh in on fiscal issues. An earlier study, conducted at the beginning of 2013 targeted, amongst other factors, the openness of public procurement data of top-25 municipalities rated as “Most livable cities of Ukraine.” It found that even some of the biggest and supposedly most digitally-advanced cities (including Kyiv, Donetsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, Lviv, and Dnipropetrovsk) scored well below 50% of the possible number of points.
Keeping this in mind, budgeting and public procurement information at the municipality level remains largely in hardcopy format, is not easily accessible, and is complicated for civil society and local constituencies to interpret. In cases in which the information is publically and digitally available to the media and the community, it is deeply hidden in piles of information on local government websites and is virtually unsearchable.
The proposed pilot, therefore, attempts to address the gap created by the lack of access to municipal budgeting data. The pilot takes a two-pronged approach of:
a) equipping target municipalities willing to open up budgeting data with tools for budget visualization and;
b) 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.
This project 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. Three communities will develop internet tools that will maximize local governments’ communications potential, and journalists in those communities will learn how to use digital tools to produce data-driven stories that people can understand. The project will stimulate government-citizen transparency in underserved communities. It will serve the ICIL goal of empowering leaders in communities to prioritize the quality of information ecosystems in their decision making and activities, and it will empower local media to provide people with the news and information that they need, the ability to engage effectively, and the means to make their voices heard.
The main Objectives are then the delivery of city budget information to the public using online tools that are easy to use and that allow citizens to have a voice on how resources are used; the creation of two-way communications between officials and constituents on how resources are used, to foster an environment of government accountability; the education of local leaders on the value of transparency and collaboration with the community through their cooperation with journalists and social and digital activists; and the transfer of data visualization skills to journalists so that they can find, interpret, visualize, and report complicated financial data to the public in ways that are clearly understood and enables the public to engage more meaningfully in budgeting processes.
The pilot will kick off in January, so stay tuned!
 Results of monitoring the effectiveness of implementation of e-government in cities of Ukraine, conducted by a coalition of NGOs: NGO "Podolsky Agency for Regional Development", Association of Cities of Ukraine, NGO "Institute civil society , Transparency International Ukraine, Civic Network" Resistance "Association," Ukraine e-government, "and the National Centre for e-government (http://bit.ly/17mFYp9).