Municipal Citizens’ Observatories for Debt Audit

An interesting tool that enforces citizen participation comes from the Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform. The project is called “Municipal Citizens’ Observatories” (the Spanish acronym is OCM) and attempts to provide a solution to the corruption crisis found in all levels of contemporary public administration in several countries around the globe. The main aim is to start a bottom-up process that promotes transparency and encourage citizen participation. The chosen level of application is municipalities, as the most accessible level of policy making. The OCM is an open, organised and self-managed space, which aims to network different groups from several municipalities in different countries, in order to achieve greater control of municipal accounts. The tool was created in order, not only to function in a specific context, but also to be spread in several municipalities in an international level. With the moto “Transparency begins on the street!”, the initiators are inviting several people to act in order to gain control over matters that impact on them, participating to the observatories. Therefore, the call is accompanied by the description of the process, which can be followed by everyone that wants to participate to the observatories. The first step towards the creation of an OCM is assembling a diverse team that will coordinate the project. On a next level, the team creates a website, which local citizens can access in order to get informed on issues concerning the management of the funds by the local government. At the same website, one will be able to download the annual balance, make comparisons, and ask questions and clarifications. After the website has been set into function, the team is ready to manage organised consultations. That means, that a large amount of local people should get to know the project and how to use it. Therefore, the responsibilities of the team involve the dissemination of the project through organisation of educational sessions, presentations in open space and groups, contact to local press and promotion among the citizens so as to get them active. At the same time, spreading queries and questionnaires could provide feedback and, therefore, contribute to the improvement of the project. The initiators of the project emphasise on the fact that the project can be evolved by each group under the philosophy that the more people and skills involved, the further the project can reach. The project functions already in five municipalities in Spain (Burgos, Terrassa, Girona, Castelldefels and Moiá) allowing more than a half million people to participate. Concurrently, there are other interested municipalities in Spain that are preparing their own websites. Read more! Featured Image: Katsigianni K., MetaPolis Edited by Maria Kikidou

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