Reading & video: Tools to fight corruption
Before we check several interesting anti-corruption tools, we can first watch this video (1:41) by Transparency International, which promotes measures against corporate crime and political corruption in the international arena, on how corruption affects you – and why you should follow closely what your governments are doing with public money:
According to Transparency International, Corruption is a result of poor accountability and transparency mechanisms, and it is still a major issue in Europe . Besides the major corruption scandals, which are often revealed only after the change of powers in the government, there is also bribery, “creative” accounting, preferential treatment, and blurred procurement processes hurting the system and trust in institutions. Activists, investigative journalists and non governmental organizations use Open Data and Freedom of Information Act to fight corruption. Merging Open Data and FOI with civic technologies, led to the creation of many tools that enable citizens to shed light on malversations and misuse of state resources and public money.
Public procurement (purchase of goods, services and works done by governments and state-owned enterprises) is the largest channel of public spending . In 2016, an investigation done by The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) from the European Commission  showed that in a period of 5 years, 20 % of all reported irregularities have been related to breaches of public procurement rules, accounting for 30 % of all reported irregular financial amounts. With the purpose of achieving a better control of how governments are spending public money, Hungarian activists built Red flags, a Corruption Warning System that monitors procurement processes in Hungary and highlights fraud risks at different stages of the procurement process. These flagged procurement documents can be further checked by public officials in control agencies, journalists and citizens. Red flags tool provides stakeholders at large with practical solutions to monitor procurement processes by alerting them about potential risks at the very early stage of the procurement process.
Check out the video (2:14) by Transparency International-Hungary, to see how Red Flags work in practice:
Another great example comes from Guatemala. 40 City Halls under the magnifying glass is an online platform that monitors 40 local governments and local officials, and investigates corruption and misuse of public resources. This initiative is developed by the independent journalism company Ojoconmipisto.com. Each municipality was investigated through requests for access to public information, about their budgets, contracts, results of audits, criminal cases and complaints, as well as on contracts with companies registered in the contracting procedures.
It might seem that any such tool needs a group of activists to work on it and maintain the infrastructure, but it’s not always the case. A single activist, who formerly was an architect, built a public auditing platform in 2009 to increase the transparency surrounding Belgian politicians’ multiple mandates. Cumuleo is a monitoring tool for the accumulation of political mandates. It publishes all the mandates, functions and public or private professions held by the political representatives and certain senior Belgian officials.
In Belgium 96% of politicians are multiple office-holding with an average of 6.86 offices per politician. Some even have more than 50 mandates/public functions. Cumuleo has already recorded more than 1100 mandates, managerial functions and professions at federal and regional levels that office holders failed to declare between 2004 and 2017.
Romanian based NGO Funky Citizens built an easy to use and interactive database of all the important public figures in Romanian politics convicted for corruption. The platform Mari Corupti shows how many ministers have been convicted, how many years all their corruption amounts to, what are the most common acts for which they have been convicted, how many have been executed and how many have been suspended, which party has the most high-ranking convicts. According to Funky Citizens, “by aggregating and educating youth around a series of tools, we believe we can build the understanding and human capital necessary to influence more participatory, responsible and transparent democracy in Romania”.
Yet, to be able to monitor public procurement public spending, citizens should first understand very complex systems of tax collecting and tax consumption. That is why Bosnian based activists launched MojPorez.ba, an educational online tool that allows citizens to calculate, in an easy way, the total of taxes paid on an annual basis, including the calculation of paid contributions, value added tax and excise duties on fuel and luxury products. Once a user enters their monthly salary in the tool, they will find out how much tax they pay on an annual and monthly basis and on what basis they pay it. Then, they will receive a personal “Public Service Account” that shows how and for what these taxes are spent (the price paid for financing public services, ie the amount of tax payments for pensions, health care, repayment of external debt, roads and highways, public services, defence, public order and security, economic affairs, environmental protection, housing and community affairs, recreation, culture and religion, and education and social protection). In addition, the tool lets users calculate a personal “Tax Freedom Day”. Tax Freedom Day is a symbolic day when citizens stop working for paying taxes and start working to meet their needs.
Tasks and resources for explorers:
Inspired to take control of your taxes and public spending? Check out some other ways on how you can participate in the fight against corruption in this video.
 Transparency International (2020). CPI 2020: Global Highlights. https://www.transparency.org/en/news/cpi-2020-global-highlights
 European Commission (2017). European Semester Thematic Factsheet. Public Procurement. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/european-semester_thematic-factsheet_public-procurement_en_0.pdf
 The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) (2016). The OLAF Report 2015. Publications Office of the European Union. https://ec.europa.eu/anti-fraud/sites/antifraud/files/olaf_report_2015_en.pdf