2.1 The Municipal Checklist
In order to minimise loopholes and opportunities for corruption within the local authority, it is useful to examine the local realities and specific conditions that may perpetuate such corrupt activities within the local setting. The Municipal Checklist focuses specifically on the local government system and aims to assess the vulnerability of the system to abuse of authority and resources. In this sense it is different from the Urban Corruption Survey (see 2.2 below) which is applicable in the broader urban landscape.
The purposes of the Municipal Checklist are:
To identify and begin to focus on the different areas of vulnerability to abuse (45) of authority and management of resources that a municipality might have.
To provide a common base of information and understanding for all parties interested in knowing about and improving the effectiveness of the Municipality. The dissemination of this information helps to promote transparency.
Linkage to Transparency
The Municipal Checklist generates a profile of useful information obtained through (among other means) direct interaction with municipal officials and employees. Information that may contain indications on the various loopholes for corruptive practices should be widely disseminated to interested parties and the public at large. The impact of decisions made and actions taken as a result of the Municipal Checklist is intended to be helpful in achieving transparency at the local government level. Moreover, the process of obtaining information itself, as well as its wide dissemination, also plays an important role in encouraging transparency.
How It Works – The Key Elements
Structure. The Checklist is a series of questions divided into sections that correspond to those areas of municipal life that have generally been most subject to abuse or found to be in most need of strengthening in order to address corruption issues. They could include: Municipal Ethical Framework (see Section 2C for a more detailed explanation); Public Complaints (see also 2.23 Complaints and Ombudsman Office); Leadership; Human Resources; Budgeting (see also 2.29 Participatory Budgeting); Procurement (see also 2.19 The Integrity Pact); and Audit Procedures (see also 2.27 Independent Audit Function). A sample of questions divided into the seven sections mentioned above, that may serve as the framework for elaboration of questionnaires tailored more specifically to particular situations, are shown in Box 7.
Box 7:The Municipal Checklist
Municipal Ethical Framework
- Is there a code of conduct for senior local government leadership?
- Is it used and thought to be effective?
- Are the assets and incomes of senior local government leadership disclosed annually to the public through effective means?
- Is there an independent complaints office within the local government?
- Is it known to the public and to staff?
- Is it effective and respected?
- Is there retaliation against whistle-blowers or are they protected?
- Can anonymous complaints be made?
- Is there a programme for testing the integrity of the various local government departments?
- Is the programme publicised and is it effective?
- Is the local government leadership committed to the fight against corruption and how has this been demonstrated in both words and deeds?
- Does the public respect the work of the local government?
Municipal Human Resources
- Is there respect for work rules by all staff, including supervisors?
- Is the local government system for recruiting, disciplining, and promoting staff fair?
- Are local government pay scales and benefits fair?
- Is the internal administrative system for appeals of staff decisions considered fair?
- Is the local government budgeting process well publicised and open to the public?
- Does the public actively and directly participate in shaping local government budget priorities?
- Is the local government procurement system reputed to be fair?
- Is it based on competitive principles?
- Are procurements advertised in advance and made known to the public?
- Is the process for selecting a bidder thorough and fair?
- Are conflict of interest rules enforced?
- Are certain types of procurements excluded from competition?
- Does the local government make its investments through a competitive process?
- Have there been corruption issues with the procurement system?
- Is there a regular audit of procurement actions?
- Are the local government accounts regularly audited by independent auditors?
- Is there an internal auditor?
- Are the results made public in a timely and effective manner?
- Is there a separate local government public accounts committee?
- As a result of these audits, are actions taken to rectify systems and practices?
Source: Transparency International
Administering the Checklist. It is quite important that the process of administering the Checklist, i.e., utilising it to conduct an assessment of the local government, involves a wide range of stakeholders. There are many reasons for this, including the need for an accurate appreciation of the wider community’s views on corruption within the municipality, as well as the need to lay the basis for outside monitoring of the municipality’s performance.
An assessment making use of the Checklist can be carried out in a number of different ways. These can include small group meetings with individual work units, larger workshops, and outside studies. The underlying principle, however, is that it must be conducted in a collaborative manner with municipal staff. Through a partnership approach, and not simply as an audit-type enquiry by an external consultant, the Checklist can become a learning tool and an instrument for promoting change within the municipality. An initial assessment will need to be made by the senior leadership, both political and civil service, as to the approaches that will ensure maximum candour in responses.
Analysing Results. The Checklist can play an important role in helping various stakeholders understand the strengths and weaknesses of the municipality’s integrity systems. The ultimate goal is to have the results of the Checklist serve as a basis for change within the municipality. This can only happen with certainty when the municipal leadership is committed to good urban governance and has in place the systems that will enable it to act effectively. These systems are discussed as part of other tools in Parts B and C of this chapter.
While the Checklist is primarily a self-assessment tool for municipalities, it can also serve the very important purpose of building an informed community. For this reason, it is recommended that stakeholder involvement be built into the process of conducting the Municipal Checklist. This could be done through interviews and focus groups, as well as broader public meetings. Furthermore, sharing the results of the assessment based on the Checklist and the steps proposed to be taken by the municipality can go a long way in building trust between the Stakeholders and local government and enhancing transparency.
Application of the Municipal Checklist in Four Towns of Namibia
Use of the Municipal Checklist in Piraeus, Greece
Further information and contact
Transparency International (TI),
Otto-Suhr-Allee 97-99, 10585 Berlin, Germany
Tel.: +49-30-343-8200; Fax: +49-30-34703912
Namibia Association of Local Authorities Officers ,
80 Independence Avenue, Box 59, Windhoek, Namibia.
Tel.: +264-61-2902615; Fax: +264-61-2902344;
Namibian Institute for Democracy ,
P.O. Box 11956, Windhoek, Namibia
Tel: +264-61-229117/8, Fax: +264-61-229119,
Management Systems International,
600 Water Street, SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA.
Tel.: +1-202-484-7170, Fax: +1-202-488-0754,
United States Agency for International Development,
Transparency International – Greece, 6-7, Efroniou St., 11634 Athens, Greece.
Tel: +30-1-7224940, Fax: +30-1-7224947
Notes and references
- Vulnerability to abuse is a broad concept that includes management of not only financial resources, but also other resources, such as land and the environment, for which local authorities often have responsibility.
URBAN GOVERNANCE TOOLKIT SERIES Copyright © 2004 UN-HABITAT