Think Hungarian municipalities abide by the law? Think again!

July 21, 2016

corruption

Hungarian municipalities have never been considered open or transparent, even though such attributes are indispensable for reducing corruption, and  effective governance.

Transparency reduces corruption risks because transactions and municipality decisions, where corruption happens, become more open and verifiable. It works as a tool of the modern state operation and open governance, so this way it helps the involvement of the citizens, and it enhances the public trust in the state institutions and municipalities too.

Corruption and research

The Corruption Research Center Budapest was created in November 2013 in response to the growing need for independent research on corruption and quality of government in Hungary. Now in their latest research, they have examined whether Hungarian municipalities have become better at abiding by the law.

They analyzed information disclosure practices on 368 Hungarian municipalities’ websites from 2015, comparing the results with the ones from 2013 with the following focus points: transparency, accountability, and informing citizens. Their report is based on

  • whether the homepage of municipalities contains data on public procurement;
  • whether they contain the minutes of the representative body meetings and their future agenda;
  • the languages in which the homepage is available; and
  • whether there is a site map.

After collecting all the data, they uploaded them to a common database and rated towns, cities and villages based on openness and law-abidance.

All in all, the corruption center noticed some improvements, but many of the local governments still fail to obey some of the laws.

Representative board meetings

For example, only 29 percent of municipalities release the preliminary agenda of representative board meetings.  However small the number may seem, two years ago only 10 percent did the same, so it is a definite improvement. This is considered as an important weakness, because when the citizens are informed about the next meeting’s topics, they can decide whether they want to attend.

Public procurement

The contracts of public procurement procedures are sensitive data – although they are of public interest, municipalities are reluctant to upload them to their webpages: out of 368 sites only 173 (47%) contain at least one public procurement contract. Despite the changes in legal circumstances, this proportion has remained similar since 2013 (175; 47.6%).

Municipalities are also reluctant to upload statistical summaries of procurement procedures: only 55 of all 368 webpages (14.9%) contain the summary of year 2014.

The center examined whether the information on homepages was available in languages other than Hungarian. From the analyzed 368 communities they found foreign language on 111 websites. The most frequent languages were English (93.7%) and German (85.6%).

The full report of the Corruption Research Center Budapest can be read here.