“Transparency Index of Local Authorities” (TILA) is a pilot study that aims to assess the level of transparency among 41 municipalities in Latvia and 10 municipalities in Norway, by measuring the extent of information disclosure on their websites. The Latvian sample covers all post-reform municipalities that had web-pages at the time of initiating the evaluation. The Norwegian municipalities have been selected from different geographical parts of the country, representing different sizes in population.
Similar studies regarding municipality information disclosure practices on their webpages conducted by TI Lithuania, TI Ireland, TI Ukraine and TI Netherlands were used as a basis to identify a set of indicators that would fit the context of both Latvia and Norway and that could be fulfilled by all local authorities regardless of budget, location and/or number of staff.
While this approach has allowed us to obtain a bird’s-eye view of information availability and comprehensiveness across a large number of municipalities, the study does have some limitations to be considered and addressed in future work. First, the study mainly focuses on the existence of information rather than assessing the content of such information in detail. Secondly, while this study seeks to provide explanations for the observed trends and patterns in information availability and comprehensiveness, future qualitative assessments will be needed to better understand the underlying factors.
Overall, a trend could be seen that the largest cities among which also happen to be capitals of their respective countries have scored fairly well when compared to other municipalities. However, marked differences can be seen in the performance of Latvian and Norwegian municipalities in several areas so generalized conclusions should be made with care.
Drawing on the insights of this pilot study, TI Latvia and TI Norway intend to create a toolkit with guidelines for municipalities on how their transparency scores could be improved, as well as general advice on how information could be presented to better serve both businesses and the citizenry. Furthermore, the findings of this report, which have allowed us to identify weaknesses and best practices within and between the two countries, will be used for the development of a toolkit for local decision-makers to improve their data disclosure and level of cooperation with businesses as well as citizens, and to provide recommendations to national and local governments to improve legislation, policies and practices on the transparency of decision-making, use of public funds, citizen engagement and business integrity.
This report and the evaluation of municipalities in Latvia and Norway is the result of a pilot initiative aimed at exploring the possibility of measuring and making cross-country comparisons with the help of the TILA. It is the intention of the authors to consider building upon the methodology developed in the course of this study in the future with the involvement of stakeholders from the private as well as the public sector.
The pilot study is part of the broader project “Strengthening Integrity and Transparency in Local Municipalities and in Cooperation with Private Companies”, and it receives funding from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway within the framework of the EEA and Norwegian grants. The aim of the project is to strengthen the transparency of local governments in Latvia and Norway, and it is conducted by the Transparency International chapters of Latvia and Norway.