How Martin became transparent & won a UN public service award

A TI anti-corruption project in the Slovak city of Martin has won a UN award, Gabriel Sipos from TI Slovakia reports.

Martin, Slovakia

Martin, Slovakia. Photo: Flickr / Frankz

The northern Slovak city of Martin was given the prestigious UN Public Service Award for its anti-corruption reforms supplied by the Slovak chapter of Transparency International last week. It is the first time that a Slovak institution was awarded such a prize, which is given to public institutions such as ministries or cities.

In late 2008, the newly elected mayor of Martin, Andrej Hrnciar, approached TI Slovakia in search of a transparency package that he could implement in the city of 60,000 inhabitants. Hrnciar had won an election on an anti-corruption ticket two years earlier.

Under the leadership of Emilia Beblava, TI Slovakia proposed to carry out the project in three phases. First, she and seven other experts drew up a list of recommendations in 17 policy areas such as procurement, staffing, grant-giving, public participation and municipal company policy and compared them with the city’s legislation and internal rules. Having identified the gaps, TI’s team of eight experts, together with municipal officials, drafted new by-laws and regulations adapted to Martin’s conditions.

Finally, TI helped train the local administrators and explain the changes to the public.

Within the next half-year, Martin’s town hall adopted most of the recommendations, pushing through new legislation in the city assembly as well. A year after the start of the project, the first city purchases were carried out by electronic auctions, saving up to quarter of expected expenditures.

Martin’s example drew interest from other municipalities, especially in the election year of 2010. Last year TI Slovakia was contracted to carry out anti-corruption audits in cities of Prievidza and Ziar nad Hronom, and this year in the cities of Banska Bystrica and Ruzinov, second largest district of the capital, Bratislava. Meanwhile, late last year, Hrciar was soundly reelected as a mayor of Martin.

The prize will be awarded in July in Tanzania. In late 2010, TI Slovakia ranked the hundred largest cities in Slovakia for their transparency – Martin came in third.

For more on TI’s work on local government, see here.

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