Civic-tech tools for accountability and transparency
Civic-tech tools for accountability and transparency: Citizen watchdog tools
“If the institutions of parliamentary democracy are worth preserving, the duty to explain them to the people they are meant to serve becomes vitally important “, John Allen Fraser, former Canadian politician (1993).
The Global Parliamentary Report by UNDP and IPU  from 2012 registered that 190 of 193 countries now have some form of functioning parliament, accounting for over 46,000 parliamentarians representing its citizens. But even with the rise of parliamentary democracies globally, we are witnessing a tendency for “deficit of democracy”, insufficient accessibility and incomprehensibility of public institutions, which leaves space for the misuse of public resources and power, and makes citizens lose trust in their representatives .
Global Corruption Barometer by Transparency International (a non-governmental organisation started in Germany that became a global movement working in over 100 countries) showed that public trust in the work of parliaments (but also parties and Governments) has been in decline for the last few years. 31% of respondents in the report declared that they consider politicians and state officials as very corrupted, followed by public servants (30% of respondents).
In an attempt to secure public trust, most parliaments build informative and resourceful webpages, use social media to communicate with citizens, and some even have mobile (pop-up) offices on the ground – to reach those who would usually be left behind. More could be done.
Activists such as civil society activists, democratization experts, NGOs, civic-tech campaigners, etc. have placed their hope in the creation of numerous digital initiatives that aim to widen democratic dialogue and enable greater oversight of public funds and officials by citizens. Some tools allow you to keep track of your local Members of Parliament (MPs) activities: the so-called Promise Trackers; others offer budget expenditure oversight, public procurement or contract monitoring.
Let’s check together how some of them work and help restore trust in institutions.
 Power, G. (2012). Global Parliamentary Report: The changing nature of parliamentary representation. United Nations Development Programme and Inter-Parliamentary Union.
 Csaky, Z. (2020). Nations in Transit 2020: dropping the democratic facade. Freedom House. https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/05062020_FH_NIT2020_vfinal.pdf