Corruption: Answering the call?May 8, 2013
One of the capital’s most highly populated areas, the municipality of Aerodrom, is breaking new ground in the fight against corruption, becoming one of the first local governments in the country to provide a direct phone line for citizens to report suspected cases of official wrongdoing.
“This is public accountability in the most practical sense,” says Anzelika Bogdanovska, “With this job I feel I’m doing something really important for people and for the whole of society. It may seem a fairly simple and straightforward improvement but actually it’s a transformation in attitudes and in the way local government responds to the public.”
Anzelika is Aerodrom’s newly appointed focal point for handling reports of corruption, answering calls every day from citizens and taking action to ensure that each incident is recorded and investigated in accordance with the municipality’s recently introduced system for increasing integrity in local government.
“When we get a call, say a report of a bribe or a conflict of interests,” explains Anzelika, “I first establish and record all the details in the register and then we decide on the most appropriate body in the municipality to refer the case to depending on the type of corruption that’s alleged to be involved.” All calls are recorded and each complaint is officially registered with the municipality. The case is then examined by the municipality’s working group for integrity, and if the working group finds there are reasonable grounds for pursuing the case, the allegation is passed on to the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.
“At all stages of the process we make sure the initial caller who made the complaint is kept informed on the status of their case,” says Anzelika. “We let them know the case has been referred to the Commission, for example, and we let them know as soon as the Commission has reported back to the working group and advised them on how to proceed.” In accordance with the directions from the Commission, the municipal working group then takes all necessary measures to deal with the incident and seek measures to prevent similar future incidents.
“Naturally,” says Anzelika, “We let our callers know the final outcome of their case whether the Commission decides there is a basis for action or not. Either way they get direct feedback on their complaint and advice on what to do if they are not satisfied. I don’t think democracy in local government gets much closer than this”. Aerodrom is one of nine municipalities whose mayors signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption and UNDP in June this year—an agreement pledging the mayors to undertake the introduction of integrity systems in their municipalities.
The new anti-corruption phone line is one of many reforms brought in as part of UNDP’s project with the government of Norway for Strengthening National and Local Integrity Systems. Implemented in partnership with the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, the Ministry of Information Society and Administration, and the Association of Units of Local Self-Government, this project is supporting the development of a comprehensive anti-corruption policy affirming the principles of integrity and declaring zero tolerance for corruption at both central and local level.