On 7-8 November 2013 the Center for the Study of Democracy, as coordinator of the SELDI initiative, in cooperation with its local partners from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” and Ohrid Institute for Economic Strategies and International Affairs carried out an anti-corruption monitoring training in Skopje. The training gathered representatives of the SELDI partners from nine countries, as well as local CSOs, policy-makers, survey agencies and the media. The lecturers presented practical and methodological knowledge on corruption monitoring techniques. A particular focus of the training was CSD’s Corruption Monitoring System (CMS) and the required steps for the successful implementation of nine corruption monitoring surveys, planned for the beginning of 2014. The participants also discussed the main topics to be covered in the nine upcoming country-specific Corruption Assessment Reports, possible sources of information and policy recommendations.
Ms. Emina Nuredoniska, Head of Department for Civil Society and Democracy, Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC) welcomed the participants to the second day of the seminar, outlining the organisational details and the agenda ahead. Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Coordinator of SELDI and Director of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy gave a general overview of the existing tools for measuring corruption in Europe. Mr. Stefanov focused on the theoretical and methodological aspects of internationally recognized methods for measuring corruption. The various existing types of methodologies, such as experts` assessments, composite indices and corruption victimization surveys among others, were reviewed. While discussing their advantages and disadvantages, Mr. Stefanov also provided the participants with concrete examples of notable research and studies, which employ the different types of methodologies.
Ms. Daniela Mineva, Research Fellow at the Economic Program of the Center for the Study of Democracy, presented a comprehensive methodology for monitoring anti-corruption reforms in Bulgaria, developed by the CSD to assess the Bulgarian anticorruption strategy. Ms. Mineva discussed the system of indicators for the assessment of the implementation of the Strategy for Transparent Governance and for Prevention and Counteraction of Corruption for the period 2006-2008 and the Program for the Implementation of the Strategy for 2006. There system is composed of three groups of indicators for assessment of (1) the implementation of the anticorruption strategy, evaluating its adequacy, effectiveness, implementation progress, observance of deadlines, etc.; (2) the social environment factors directly affecting the level of corruption and governance transparency (victimization and perception surveys); and (3) the effect of implemented programmes and measures on society by monitoring their outcomes and practical impact – assessment of the effectiveness of anticorruption policies. The main objective of the system of indicators is to introduce a viable mechanism of accountability and evaluation of the results of the implementation of anticorruption strategies.
Mr. Munir Podumljak, President of the Partnership for Social Development (PSD) in Croatia discussed the organization`s experience as part of the project “Anti-Corruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption” (ANTICORRP). The project, which the Center for the Study of Democracy is also a partner organization to, is the largest in history research project on corruption within the 7th Framework Program`s social sciences and humanities domain. Mr. Podumljak focused on the founding questions related to understanding corruption, namely how to describe it, what defines it and how to tackle it. He discussed the existing trends in corruption assessment, such as corruption country assessment, country profiles, country process tracing, as well as country background reports. Methodological variations of these assessments can be classified in several groups, while the main aim is to find indicators that can detect, diagnose, measure and track progress related to corruption. Mr. Podumljak also presented examples of indicators, specifically tailored for process tracing of corruption.
Ms. Leila Bičakčić, Director of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) in Saraevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, discussed ways in using investigative journalism as an indicator for measuring corruption and/or as a complementary method, especially important in cases where there are no other data available. She used case study examples to demonstrate how investigative journalism indicators could complement corruption monitoring practices. The network of investigative reporters in the region of Southeast Europe, more specifically the reports produced by these reporters, can bring about positive change. Ms. Bičakčić discussed the “Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project” (OCCRP) project, which is a joint program of a number of regional non-profit investigative centers and for-profit independent media stretching from Eastern Europe to Central Asia. In addition to providing in-depth investigative stories and the latest news related to organized crime and corruption activities in the region, the OCCRP is building an online resource center of documents related to organized crime including court records, laws, reports, studies, company records and other public documents that will be an invaluable resource center for journalists and the public alike.
In the afternoon session, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov presented the methodology of the internationally recognized Corruption Monitoring System (CMS), developed by the Center for the Study of Democracy. He discussed the concepts and indicators measured by the CMS. There are two types of issues generally faced by the methodology. (1) Can corruption be measured through surveys? Specific forms of corruption can be assessed through interviews with stakeholders, review of institutional performance and audit of specific projects. (2) Are corruption measures objective? The reality is that survey-based measures are the only available methods, especially in the context of Southeast Europe. The used methodology differentiates between experience of corruption (victimization approach) and perception. There is a need to adapt the existing methodology for specific, sector-approach. There are three main outputs of the Corruption Monitoring System. First are the preconditions, which have to do with identification, tolerance and susceptibility to corruption, which assess the corruption pressure, meaning for example, how often people were asked to give out bribes but also the involvement in corruption (money, favors and gifts). Perceptions, on the other hand, look at overall corruptness of society, institutional, occupational and sectoral ranking. Countering efforts give the overall perspective on corruption, as well as a view on government`s efforts to tackle the social phenomenon. The methodology for calculating the CMS`s indices, as well the organization of the survey questionnaires, in terms of number and type of questions, and manner of conducting the surveys themselves were also elaborate on.
Drawing from the experience of the Center for the Study of Democracy while developing the publication in Bulgaria, Ms. Daniela Mineva turned the participants` attention to the structure of the future national Corruption Assessment Reports (CARs), as well as to the Regional CAR for Southeast Europe. Ms. Mineva discussed in detail the CARs` main objectives, main content sections and length, highlighting issues of EU-wide comparability of the data, as well as the added value of the victimization approach of the CSD` Corruption Monitoring System. She also stressed the important condition for the Corruption Assessment Reports to be prepared in a public-private partnership with a view of greater outreach, validation and effectiveness.
During the last panel discussion, Mr. Marco Paunovic, Executive Director of the Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies (CLDS) in Serbia shared the organization`s experience in monitoring corruption. He presented in detail a number of CLDS`s researches on corruption, including their results, challenges and specific methodological aspects. The Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies has produced two publications on the topic of general corruption in Serbia, including a several secto-specific studies focusing on customs administration, judiciary, as well as economic analysis of corruption. Mr. Veselin Jovanovic, Fundraising and Outreach Assistant at the Secretariat of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI) in Saraevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, presented RAI`s experience in monitoring corruption in the organization`s member countries. The intergovernmental organization publishes annual reports of its member countries on the implementation of 10 joint measures to curb corruption in Southeast Europe, based on the Brussels` Ministerial Declaration from 2005. The organization also administrates separate online anticorruption portals for each member state. Mr. Jovanovic discussed potential channels for cooperation between RAI and SELDI` s partner organizations, pointing the added value for both non-governmental organizations to work with an intergovernmental entity, as well as vice-versa. Ms. Jovana Marovic, Research Coordinator at Institute Alternative, Montenegro, presented valuable practices of monitoring the implementation of anticorruption programmes and action plans at local level. She discussed the main risks and challenges in monitoring local action plans on anticorruption.
The participants in the training seminar were very active in bringing forward valuable comments, and feedback. They shared their experience in conducting surveys, arguing that face-to-face, compared to telephone, interviews are better suited in terms of sampling and authenticity of responses. The project partners were also pro-active in clarifying other important methodological and organizational information with regard to future steps and activities within of SELDI network.
Presentations from the participants in the panel discussions
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria – Existing Tools for Measuring Corruption
Ms. Daniela Mineva, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria – Monitoring Anti-Corruption Reforms
Mr. Munir Podumljak, Partnership for Social Development, Croatia
Ms. Leila Bičakčić, Center for Investigative Reporting, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria – The Corruption Monitoring System (CMS)
Ms. Daniela Mineva, Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria – CAR Structure
Mr. Marco Paunovic, Center for Liberal-Democratic Studies, Serbia
Mr. Veselin Jovanovic, Secretariat of the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, Bosnia and Herzegovina