The final international conference “Preventing Corruption at the Municipal Level: the EU Experience” under the NORMCORM project, implemented jointly by RiskMonitor Foundation, Sofia Development Association and MEPCO (Czech Republic), with the financial su

The final international conference “Preventing Corruption at the Municipal Level: the EU Experience” under the NORMCORM project, implemented jointly by RiskMonitor Foundation, Sofia Development Association and MEPCO (Czech Republic), with the financial support from the Prevention of and Fight Against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission – DG Home Affairs, was held on 25 March 2015 in Sofia.

The conference objective was to acquaint stakeholders from Sofia Municipality and the civic sector with the European experience in the sphere of prevention and counteraction of corruption and its applicability at the local level.

Participants in the conference were municipal councilors, representatives of the central and district administrations of Sofia Municipality, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations and the civil sector.

The opening address was delivered by Mrs. Mita Georgieva, Municipal Councilor and Chairperson of the Standing Committee, Set Up in Accordance with the Law on Prevention and Detection of Conflict of Interest, Sofia Municipal Council, as well as by representatives of the project partner organizations.

During the morning panel, two of the most renowned experts on the problems of corruption – Brendan Quirke and Prof. Petrus van Duyne – presented the topics of „EU Fraud and New Member States” and „Counting, Accountability and Tracking and Tracing from the First Signal or Complaint Onwards” respectively. During the afternoon panel, the topics of „Fight Against Corruption as Part of Strategic Management: the Czech Experience” and „Civil Monitoring on Public Spending through Public Procurement: the Bulgarian Model of an Integrity Pact” were presented respectively by David Koppitz, external senior expert for MEPCO, and Vanya Kashukeeva-Nusheva, Transparency International.

The presentations provoked the interest of the participants, who expressed active positions on the depicted problems within the framework of the subsequent discussions.

Representatives of Sofia Municipality discussed the Anticorruption Strategy proposal

The second roundtable discussion under the the “Non-repressive Model to Reduce Corruption at Municipal Level” – NORMCORM project, implemented jointly by RiskMonitor Foundation, Sofia Development Association and MEPCO, funded by the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission – DG Home Affairs, wаs held on 23 February 2015 at Sofia Municipality, with the participation of municipal councilors, experts, representatives of the Sofia Municipality Ombudsman, representatives of district administrations and NGOs.

The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the draft proposal of a Strategy for Prevention and Counteraction of Corruption at Sofia Municipality (2015 - 2020) with stakeholders from the Municipality, as part of a public consultation process for exchange of ideas and opinions to be reflected in the final draft.

Representatives of RiskMonitor and Sofia Development Association presented the draft strategy proposal by defining clear boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior and indicating those mechanisms that are necessary to be introduced in order to ensure an unfavorable environment for corruption. Measures to prevent and counter corruption in Sofia Municipality were traced, which are expected to lead to limiting the expressive forms of the phenomenon and to strengthening public intolerance and determination to combat corruption.

In the ensuing discussion, different opinions on the structure, form and content of the presented proposal were expressed; some ethical dilemmas were highlighted. The participants made recommendations and suggestions for amendments and additions to the Anticorruption Strategy proposal. They were unanimous in their appraisal that it would be extremely useful as a basis for action in the field of prevention and counteraction of corruption at the municipal level.

After editing the Anticorruption Strategy proposal, it will be officially submitted to the Sofia Municipal Council.

The second training seminar under the “Non-repressive Model to Reduce Corruption at Municipal Level – NORMCORM” project was held in Borovets

The second training seminar under the “Non-repressive Model to Reduce Corruption at Municipal Level – NORMCORM” project was held on 27-29 November 2014, with the participation of 30 representatives оf Sofia Municipality. Тhe seminar, entitled “Strategic Management and Anticorruption Measures at the Local Level”, was opened by representatives of RiskMonitor and Sofia Development Association. Afterwards, the lecturers David Koppitz and Milan Půček from the partner organization MEPCO presented the state of corruption in the public life of the Czech Republic.

On the next day, the two lecturers acquainted the participants with the strategic management methods at the local level and with participatory budgeting, which are prerequisite for an open and transparent municipality. They also examined case studies from the Czech Republic – the corruption strategies of the cities of Liberec and Prague, and presented the methodology for monitoring corruption risks through a set of key indicators. After a discussion on the practical applicability of the indicators in the Bulgarian conditions, designed to benefit Sofia Municipality, the participants were divided into groups and developed models for assessing the risk of corruption in activities with high corruption risk levels such as tenders or budgeting.

During the last seminar day, a draft of a strategy for preventing and combating corruption in Sofia Municipality was presented and discussed with the participants.

The seminar was part of the training program of the project, organized with the financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union (DG Home Affairs).

How do Czech municipalities cope with corruption?

From 29 to 31 October 2014, five officials from Sofia Municipality took part in a study visit to the Czech Republic, organized in the framework of the project “Non-repressive model to reduce corruption at municipal level”, supported by DG “Home Affairs” of the European Commission.Municipality representatives had the opportunity to learn about Czech approach to fight corruption and to identify good practices that might be transferable to Bulgaria for improving existing anti-corruption measures in Sofia Municipality.

Participants were given brief information about the Czech system of public administration to better understand the different levels of risk of corruption behaviour. The Act on Public Procurement, considered as one of the most important tools in reducing the risk of corruption during the public procurement process, was discussed with representatives of the Ministry of Regional Development, which is responsible for methodical management of procurement processes in the Czech Republic. Tangible steps in the fight against corruption at the municipal level were shown on the example of Statutory City of Liberec, in North Bohemia. Liberec is one of the few cities in the Czech Republic that has actually adopted an anti-corruption strategy. Therefore, the experience related to both its adoption and implementation is very valuable. Ways of dealing with corruption at the local level – as well as own activities in this field – were presented by the Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic (SMO) that participates in drafting legislative measures in areas pertaining to municipal competence.

What else was on the agenda? Particular attention was given to indicators for measuring corruption, monitoring systems and anti-corruption measures within participative budgeting at the local level. To have an overall view of the Czech approach to prevent corruption, the participants were acquainted with the Czech government anti-corruption strategy as well as activities of Czech NGOs in this field.

The study visit was organized by MEPCO, International Advisory Centre for Municipalities, in partnership with RiskMonitor and Sofia Development Association, with financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union.  

"Ethical Standards in the Work of Municipal Employees" - the first seminar in the framework of the project for prevention of corruption at municipal level

From June 19-21, 2014, RiskMonitor Fondation in partnership with Sofia Development Association organized the first seminar in the framework of the project "Non-repressive model to reduce corruption at municipal level", supported by DG "Home Affairs" of the European Commission. Thirty representatives of the municipal administration and members of four standing committees of the Municipal Council took part in the seminar. Participants learned about current and upcoming project activities and discussed the results of the public opinion survey conducted in the beginning of the project. The survey revealed the most important problems faced by citizens and businesses as users of municipal services. The project team presented and distributed a practical Guide to ethical standards and behavior, elaborated under the project.

Presenters in the seminar included Ms. Diana Kovacheva, lecturer in International and European Law at the University of National and World Economy and at the Institute for Public Administration, and a leading expert at Transparency International – Bulgaria, and Ms. Ralitza Ilkova, Professor of Criminal Law at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski". The main topics of their presentations included:

•    Ethical standards and principles in the public administration; Managing integrity - international standards and European legislation;
•    Ethical Infrastructure: Codes of Ethics as a tool of professional ethics;
•    Procedures for establishing violations of the ethical rules: analysis of the legal framework;
•    Legal responsibilities and liability for violating the ethical rules for municipal councilors and municipal officials.

A separate seminar panel focused on the project team efforts, led by the Czech partners from MEPKO, to create a model and a matrix for internal monitoring of corruption risks at Sofia Municipality. Participants received a draft copy of the document with the pilot indicators for management of the corruption risks together with a methodology for internal monitoring of the Municipality for the prevention of corruption.

PROGRAMME

The seminar was part of the training program of the project, organized with the financial support of the Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme of the European Union (DG Home Affairs).

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