Parliament Watch Italy
Ministry of Space
Another member of our team works at the Croatian Institute of Public Finance. WeBudget was born as a prototype of the Citizens Lab network. The project's partners are all members of the network.
The aim of the project is to broaden the way citizens can interact with local authorities, thus influencing decision-making. We believe that creative IT solutions can strengthen local participation and democratic processes. Accordingly, we will create budget schools committed to advocate for budget transparency and participatory space in the budgeting process. With the participants we will co-create a tool that could help building trust between governments and citizens around public spending.
Communities in Budapest, Messina, Belgrade and Zagreb will be participating.
The European integration process can be achieved only if citizens are at its center. This transnational issue must be tackled starting from local contexts, where citizenship has to be strengthened through participation. Monitoring local budgets is a pivotal democratic transition, to have a say in public expenditures even more so. We are trying to foster this transition to reach point of no-return in good practices in dysfunctional contexts that show relevant signs of civic renaissance. European civil society is facing common issues but this awareness is still not sufficiently embodied in communities of practices, as ours, where different players support each other with mutual endorsements and by sharing narratives of local initiatives that tackles those issues.
In August 2019, there will be three basic outcomes:
1) Well trained local communities of practice, that can monitor the budgets and foster further participation, empowered with...
2) a tool co-created in collaboration with the project partners that allows them to run effective participatory processes and advocacy campaigns;
3) a transnational community of practice ready to share lesson learned with other stakeholders and to help activating new communities.
We will form multistakeholder local coalitions through invitations and open calls.
Every coalition will attend a “WeBudget school” during an entire budget cycle time span.
The school steps will allow peers to co-create a modular tool, while building the knowledge they need to:
1) understand the municipal budget, build storytelling on budget data (tool’s transparency module);
2) get other people on board, advocate for more detailed budget information and timeliness in information disclosure, co-create regulations on budget transparency and participatory budgeting (tool’s advocacy module);
3) understand basic participatory budget dynamics and co-design the module that can help to manage it (participatory module).
We are all committed in our local contexts where we have already set up transparency, anti-corruption, urban development and open government initiatives. For all of us monitoring local budget is part of a larger strategy to hold local governments accountable and to foster citizens’ engagement. The WeBudget initiative wants to:
1) bring transparency of public spending as a precondition to open space for meaningful participatory budget processes;
2) Fill the existing gap between online and offline engagement providing a tool as outcome of a face-to-face educational process.
Coming with different professional backgrounds, we have already prototyped this idea, we developed commitment and friendship and we feel enthusiastic to continue.
- Local decision makers and public servants interested in open government practices. This project already has at least one local government, Messina Municipality, strongly committed to experiment with the practices implemented by the WeBudget community;
- Citizens who don’t have insights into the public expenditures of their municipalities, but would be eager to participate;
- Activists who need a strong tool to advocate for a change;
- Local press facing the data driven journalism transition;
- Professionals that want to engage in urban development.
In dysfunctional contexts participatory budgeting is needed but difficult to reach, nonetheless it can be tried a bridging process that builds capacity on monitoring budget transparency and advocating for social responsibility as pre-conditions to set up meaningful participatory budgeting. To walk the path “from transparency to participation” a ready made tool cannot be enough. The “tool as outcome of a process” formula drove us to conceive a modular, easy-to-adapt software that will be implemented as a direct outcome of the WeBudget school activities.
The school and the tool will grow together allowing:
- nice and clear budget visualization
- storytelling on data
- advocacy campaign for budget disclosure and timeliness
- to bargain and manage more participatory space.
Funding requested from Advocate Europe
Funding granted from Advocate Europe
Travel and accomodation 5680 Communication strategy in 4 contexts and overall 20000 personnel costs 30000 technology 18150 events 3600 experts fees 1760
What similar projects are you aware of? What kind of participatory features do you think can be included in a platform dealing with budget participatory processes at the local level?
WeBudget grew from the need for instruments that make public finances transparent and help people co-decide how money is spent in their communities – a crucial element in the vision for more participative societies where citizens take more responsibilities in governing processes. Starting by co-creating an IT toolkit and school for participatory budgeting, the project will test these tools at the local level with communities in four cities in Croatia, Hungary, Italy and Serbia. The results can later be applied to other European contexts.