The goal of the program is to increase transparency and integrity in public life and to promote open, accountable governance.
The program is a continuation of the Against Corruption program, which was started in 2000 and has led to significant institutional and legislative change. We were engaged in educational and information projects trying to sensitize the public to the various aspects and forms of corruption. We monitored the performance of government and political parties with respect to implementing and compliance with anti-corruption legislation. We conducted activities aimed at the dissemination and implementation of the recommendations of international institutions and the recommendations that precipitated from our own monitoring.
Currently, we are focusing on efforts to ensure the transparency of the legislative process and opening it up to the voice of citizens, the limitation of the risks of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the conflict of interest in public life, to strengthen the role and legal protection of whistleblowers. We monitor and analyze processes and events which affect the integrity of public life. We make proposals and recommendations aiming at improving the standards of public life and curbing corruption. We take measures to develop, disseminate and implement solutions which comply with the standard of good governance and accountable government. In our activity we cooperate with other organizations and institutions both in Poland and internationally. We are a member of the Coalition for Open Government
and the Anti-Corruption Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations.
- Civic Observatory – day-to-day monitoring of initiatives and events affecting the integrity of public life
We closely monitor initiatives and events important that can have impact on the integrity of public life. We scrutinize the websites of key centers of decision-making (e.g. parliament, government) and monitor the publications in the media. We also engage in direct observation participating in various groups, task forces, councils etc., in which issues relevant for the integrity of public life are discussed (e.g. Public Debate Forum at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland, parliamentary commissions, public meetings).
On the basis of the monitoring we produce short reports and in-depth analyses of events, initiatives and bills etc. which are relevant to transparency, accountability and integrity of public life. We disseminate them in the NGO community, public administration and the media.
Through the Observatory we want to reach out to the public, to pro-actively affect public debate and to increase awareness of such issues as good governance, transparency, problems of corruption and anti-corruption policies.
- Analysis of the Practice of Public Consultations – evaluation of government bills in terms of potential impact and the quality of public consultations
Public consultations are an important component of the modern legislative model. They open the legislative process to public input, make it more transparent, improve the chances of the new legislation being more readily understood and accepted by society. Consultations are also an important part of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) procedure which is aimed to develop the substantive basis for the legislative proposals. Sound consultations conducted as part of the RIA process ensure that such new legislation is designed to best meet its goals and objectives without causing detrimental social, economic or political impacts. By involving a variety of different stakeholders with different backgrounds and expertise in the RIA process legislators can better understand the practical implications of the proposed law.
The importance of public consultations was appreciated in the latest government Better Regulation 2015 program which among other things streamlines the consultation procedures by applying online tools and by creating and maintaining an up-to-date record of consulted stakeholders.
In 2013, we are assessing the results of the latest amendments in the public consultation and RIA process adopted by the government in late 2011. We are testing the impact of the 2011 amendments on the quality of legislation and the adequacy of the public consultations process. Over 100 government proposed bills (with related files) processed by Parliament in 2012 are examined with selected bills chosen for in-depth case studies.
We hope that our findings and recommendations will be used as inputs in the further review of the legislative process and in the implementation of the Better Regulation 2015 program.
- Personal Unions in Local Government – assessing the level of risk related to conflict of interest in local governments based on examinations of asset disclosure declarations and local case studies
Members of local councils often perform other public roles and functions (in public administrations, public and private business and in non-governmental organizations). Such a multitude of different roles may affect the quality of local democracy and create conflict of interest.
The objective of the project scheduled for 2013 and 2014 is to diagnose the scale and character of personal links at the local level and whether and how they affect the quality and integrity of public life. By using public domain sources (asset declarations, National Court Register and National Election Commission) we conduct a quantitative and qualitative study of ‘personal unions’ in local government. We will examine a representative sample of local governments with respect to asset disclosures (declarations) mandatorily filed by local officials and their various roles and functions. This examination will be supplemented by in-depth case studies in selected local governments.
The results of the study will be published in a report which will characterize and assess existing links among local legislators and offer recommendations for improvements in the quality of public life and conflict of interest prevention. We hope the report and the ensuing discussion will raise the level of public interest in local elections in 2014 and contribute to more informed participation.
- Protecting the Whistleblowers – supporting and strengthening legal protection of people who expose irregularities and abuse in public institutions
Since 2008 we have been carrying out activities aimed to improve legal protection of whistleblowers, i.e. individuals who, acting in good faith and out of concern for public good, disclose wrongdoing or unethical behavior in their workplace or professional environment, thus putting themselves at the risk of mobbing, loss of employment, or professional marginalization.
We undertake initiatives to improve the status of whistleblowers in criminal proceedings and adequate protection in labor law cases. We monitor court cases involving whistleblowers by taking part in court hearings as social observers (under Article 61 of the Civil Procedure Code or Article 90 of the Criminal Procedure Code) and by presenting our position on the case before it is decided (amicus curiae). We present directions of possible legal changes that may improve safeguards for whistleblowers (e.g. Outline of the law on protection of whistleblowers in professional environment [PDF 880 KB] ).
Currently, we focus on advocacy efforts for implementing legislation ensuring better protection for whistleblowers in Poland and on communication and education campaigns to change public attitudes towards whistleblowers.
We organize debates and meetings to promote the Outline of the law on protection of whistleblowers. We hold regular seminars with the participation of representatives of employer organizations, trade unions and legal professional where we discuss the benefits and threats related to implementing whistleblowing systems in companies, the role of trade unions in protecting whistleblowers and proposed amendments to current legislation.
We are developing a series of educational videos on whistleblowers to demonstrate the importance of signalizing irregularities in workplaces for public and economic interest as well as the implications and cost resulting from the lack of public acceptance and legal protection of such activities.
- Anti-Corruption in Practice – evaluation of corruption prevention mechanisms introduced in public institutions with the view to promote good practices
The UN Convention against Corruption adopted by Poland in 2006 imposes on the countries which have ratified it an obligation to place a greater emphasis on corruption prevention (Article 5 and 6). The experience of other countries such as the Netherlands, Australia or Germany indicate that implementing anti-corruption systems in public institutions may be one of the most effective prevention tools. Such systems developed in cooperation of the employees specifically for the given institution are the most effective way of preventing corruption.
Our goal is to present and promote a good instrument of reducing the risk of corruption in public institutions. In 2011-2012 we evaluated the application of the anti-corruption system introduced as an extension of ISO 9001 in three institutions: Ministry of Economy, Marshal Office of Mazowsze Province and Material Reserves Agency. The results of the examination show that the introduced systems in the above mentioned institutions have various shortcomings: they give too much discretion with regard to implementation, do not force the introduction of effective remedies, whereas the method of analyzing corruption risk is relatively arbitrary. Report from evaluations are publicly available on our website.
On the basis of our findings we developed a guidebook for public institutions which describes principles of good implementation of anti-corruption systems. The guidebook was presented at the conference Anti-Corruption Systems in Public Administration organized jointly with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on June 21, 2013.
- Monitoring of conflict of interest policies – activities aimed at reducing the risk of conflict of interest in public administration
Conflict of interest appears wherever public sphere interferes with private one. It does not always lead to corruption or a spectacular scandal, however, it always needs control – adequate legal measures, organizational culture and citizen vigilance ought – in order to avoid corruption and scandal.
The aim of the project, implemented in collaboration with the organizations from three Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine, is to improve the efficiency of the state and strengthen the role of citizens in their efforts to reduce conflict of interest in public administration. The project consists of: preparing a legal expertise identifying the existing regulations concerning conflict of interest, conducting a research on the conflict of interest in the central administration, monitoring of conflict of interest in the selected municipalities and undertaking advocacy efforts aimed to increase the participation of citizens in reducing the risk of conflict of interest in central and local governments.
We hope that the results of the project will stimulate a debate on the control of conflict of interest in Poland and contribute to the reform of mechanism counteracting the negative consequences of its occurrence.
First report on the conflict of interest in the Polish government administration
[PDF 5,10 MB
Project financed by the European Commission