Transparency International Russia ideas on transparency in state funding of NGOs
The anti-corruption research initiative Transparency International Russia (TIR) has deemed the system of state funding of NGOs insufficiently transparent. Its report analyses the distribution of presidential grants in 2012 and the funding of social NGOs by the Ministry of Economic Development in 2013. It examines the degree of openness of the grant givers and bid winners, as well as the mechanism for giving grants from state funds. TIR looked at bid winning organisations which received grants over 3 m roubles, in total 114 not for profit organisations.
They found that the selection of winners for the presidential grants is closed, and no information is provided on the size of the committees which judge the bids. A quarter of the winners in this tender don’t have websites and only a third have published on the Justice Ministry website their obligatory annual report.
The Economics Ministry tender was more transparent but TIR concluded that there was significant potential for additional transparency. Almost all the successful bidders had websites but only 41% had published their annual report. TIR recommended that the system of selection of presidential grant winners should be made more transparent and declare what money is withheld by the organisers from the grants as commission for holding the contest. The texts of the adverts, contracts with the grant receiving NGOs and the latter’s reports should all be published. The conflict of interest which exists in the grant giving process also needs to be removed. TIR suggests that NGOs should be obliged to publish on their websites how they account to the Justice Ministry for their use of the funds they receive and they should not be allowed to receive funds from the same donor several years in succession. Publication of their annual report and accounts on the Justice Ministry website should be a condition for receiving a grant.
This was the third study of transparency in the grant bidding process by TIR. Last year, it proposed that NGOs publish on their websites their statutes, information about their management and to develop and implement an ethical code. In October 2014 TIR published a booklet of best practice in developing and implementing ethical codes for NGOs.
By Georgiy Ivanushkin