US Embassy-backed anti-corruption map goes online

Source: Oživení

Czech activists have launched an online map of the Czech Republic that highlights anti-corruption strategies, and the lack thereof, adopted by municipalities across the country. The authors believe that the project, which has been backed by the US Embassy in Prague, will provide people more information about what their town is doing to fight corruption, as well as to allow authorities to share their experiences.

Source: Oživení
Two hundred and twenty seven red dots appeared on the anti-corruption map of the Czech Republic when it went online on Thursday. Each dot represents a city or a town while the colour suggests the current state of its anti-corruption policy. Green means some measures have been adopted, red means no strategy at all. The map was launched by two Czech NGOs called Oživení, or Revitalisation, and Change Politicians. Tomáš Kramár is the head of Oživení.

“The aim of the map is to show the different approaches of Czech cities and towns to anti-corruption policies. It’s also a tool that allows mayors to promote their anti-corruption plans. Our organization will check how these plans are implemented, and give marks like at school.”

Tomáš Kramár, photo: Sedmá generace
When you click on a dot on the Google map-based application, a window appears with information on the mayor, the municipality’s anti-corruption measures, and their evaluation. No city has yet entered any data into the map so the dots are all red. But Tomáš Kramár says at least some of them should turn green in the near future.

“Our estimates are that within a month or so, first dozens of cities and towns will fill in their anti-corruption plans in the map. So people will be able to check, compare and comment on these strategies in one or two months’ time.”

An estimated 20 percent of all public spending in the Czech Republic is non-transparent. On the local level, corrupt activities are also often related to management of municipal property which is governed by no special rules.

Ahead of November’s local elections, both groups approached candidates with an anti-corruption manual. Nearly 450 of those who promised they would implement these policies did get elected. The NGOs say they will now contact them again to make sure they keep their promises. The authors also hope that negative publicity will be an incentive for the rest.

US Embassy in Prague
“We will compile lists of cities showing what anti-corruption measures they have adopted, and also which cities have done nothing or haven’t been successful. This should put mayors under pressure to make sure they are not at the bottom of the list.”

The project received a 6,000 USD grant from the US Embassy in Prague. The mission was actively promoting transparency in the Czech Republic even before the arrival of the new ambassador, Norman Eisen, who has a record of fighting corruption in Washington. David Gainer is the embassy’s cultural attaché.

“We feel that activities such as these are part of our core mission to support the civic society, to try and build together a strong civic society. So we were happy to support this project through what we call our small grants programme.”

The anti-corruption map can be found at http://mapa.bezkorupce.cz/.