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Transparency Case Study: Public Procurement in the Slovak Republic

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Introduction

Slovakia Presidential Palace

Transparency and open data policies and initiatives have reached a state of maturity where it is crucial for us to evaluate them to learn what works, what doesn’t and why. Transparency is not likely to be a cure-all, but we think it is a cure-some; so, we need to figure out where and how it should be best applied. As part of that process, we have been conducting a series of in-depth case studies on the impact of technology enabled transparency policies around the world. Our initial case studies look at transparency in public procurement and we have chosen four countries to study. This analysis discusses our findings about public procurement disclosure by the Slovakian government.

For the Slovakian case study, we conducted interviews or sent questionnaires and surveys to members of the following groups: members of transparency NGOs, journalists who have covered procurement, academic researchers, the Slovakian Government Office of Public Procurement and the Slovakian Business Alliance. The experiences of these diverse respondents have allowed us to develop an equally diverse and comprehensive picture of the impact of the public procurement reforms enacted in Slovakia over recent years.

Our major findings: Slovakians' increased access to public data has led to increased oversight and engagement by the civil sector and the public. However, because of a lack of enforcement, corruption in public procurement remains a significant problem.

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OpenGov Conversations: Alexander Furnas on Creating Effective Transparency Policies

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Change is hard, and slow in coming. As Weber famously said, “Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards.” When things do change, they change for a reason. They key for us is figuring out why, and what role transparency plays in that process. The theory of change that I subscribe to is one in which outcomes change when incentives change for key stakeholders. In this light, we must evaluate transparency against its ability to alter the incentives for actors within a system.

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Transparency Case Studies: Some Early Lessons from the Field

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For much of this year I have been conducting research into the impacts of technology enabled transparency policy around the world. A significant step in this process was reading theory and existing evidence to find the footing and context of the project, as well as defining our scope and developing our methodology and research protocol. But over the last several months, the long process of data collection has begun. The first wave of the case study project is in full swing, and so I spend my days setting up and conducting interviews. At this point the data collection on our first case, public procurement in the Slovak Republic, is coming to a close. Despite the early stage, some interesting lessons and themes have already begun to emerge from the conversations I am having.

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The Fix-Rate: Integrity Action’s New Transparency and Accountability Impact Metric

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Earlier this week Integrity Action’s Fredrik Galtung launched his working paper ‘The Fix-Rate: A Key Metric for Transparency and Accountability’ (PDF). Yesterday my colleague Lee Drutman and I had an interesting conversation about this work with Fredrik, and I wanted to share some thoughts about the Fix-Rate.

With this paper Fredrik and Integrity Action take the position that the anecdote-heavy evidence base linking transparency and accountability interventions needs some more concrete measures. To that end, ‘Fix-Rate’ proposes a metric for measuring impacts, and offers examples of its use in a variety of national and municipal contexts, largely focusing on improvements in public service provisioning and infrastructure projects.

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Untangling the webs of tax lobbying

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It’s tax day today, and while Americans all over the country are scrambling to pay what they owe, in Washington there is a different kind of hustle taking place. About 6,500 lobbyists are busily working to make sure that their more than 2,000 client organizations can pay a little less in taxes. Some want a new tax credit passed. In this year that threatened comprehensive tax reform, many are focused on protecting existing loopholes, credits, and exemptions. To understand the vast and busy world of Washington tax lobbying, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis and visualization has mapped out the networks of tax lobbying from the 112th Congress (2011-2012), which should also be a pretty good guide to what lobbying in the 113th Congress will look like. Our interactive component lets you follow the industries and issues that you care most about. Click for Interactive Graphic by Alexander Furnas and Amy Cesal. Click to explore the network interactively. The visualization draws on the complete record of tax lobbying in the 112th Congress. For those keeping score at home, that covers:

  • $773 million in reported lobbying spending
  • 1,454 bills
  • 2,221 organizations

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Ten ways special interests want to change the U.S. tax code

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Sunlight’s new tax lobbying analysis gives the big picture on what tax lobbying looks like, visualizing what happens when 2,221 organizations in 336 sectors spend an estimated combined $773 million to hire 6,503 different lobbyists to advocate on 1,454 bills in a single two-year Congress. Here, we take a closer look at some of the specific proposed changes to the tax code. The ten bills highlighted here offer a window into the ways in which narrow interests work with lawmakers from both parties to tweak the tax code in narrow ways. Though none of these proposals have been enacted into law (yet), they offer a sampling of the many ways that particular interests work to benefit a particular industry, company, or set of professionals, or to incentivize a particular behavior.

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The bigger the bank, the higher the complaint rate

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The bigger the bank, the higher the rate of consumer complaints. That is the general pattern of a new Sunlight Foundation analysis of just-released consumer complaint data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The relationship is hardly surprising. The biggest banks consistently score the worst on surveys of customer satisfaction. The most recent survey found Bank of America with the lowest customer satisfaction rate. We find Bank of America to have the second highest rate of complaints, trailing only Capital One, a major issuer of credit cards. Capital One accounts for 21.3% (4,181 of 19,603) of credit card complaints in the CFPB data. size_and_complaints

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Untangling the webs of immigration lobbying

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As Congress inches toward major immigration legislation, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis (based on almost 8,000 lobbying reports) offers a comprehensive and interactive guide to the web of interests with something at stake. As legislation continues to take shape, a wide range of sectors will continue flooding Congress with their lobbyists, trying to make sure that their particular concerns are fully addressed. The visualizations we present can help to better understand who these interests are, what they care about, and how intensely they are likely to lobby to get what they want. Click for interactive version

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Share your experience, be a TransparencyCamp Ambassador

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TransparencyCamp 2012 Day 2 We here at the Sunlight Foundation could not be more excited about our upcoming TransparencyCamp! We have done this -- and had a blast -- with the rest of the transparency community for the last 4 years, and this year’s event is slated to be bigger and better than ever. But since both TCamp and our community has expanded over the years, we realized that some may appreciate an introduction to the transparency world and the unconference experience. Additionally, we know that many people have great tales to share from their participation over the years. That's why we are launching a new Ambassadors Program at this year’s TCamp. Ambassadors will be matched with attendees who may be new to the open gov and open data community or unconferencing with TCamp veterans and established members of the transparency world. Participants in the ambassadors program get the opportunity to connect with each other prior to the event, reach across transparency issue areas and meet exciting new people. We are thrilled about the potential of this program to help forge new and stronger ties amongst TCamp attendees, and make our community more accessible to new people. Interested in learning more? Sign up below.

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