WEBPAGE LEAD
CITIZENS NETWORK
WATCHDOG POLAND

biuro@watchdogpoland.pl
UL. URSYNOWSKA 22/2
02-605 WARSAW
DESIGN: RZECZYOBRAZKOWE.PL

Cork Fund Monitoring (monitoring funduszu korkowego) – Citizens Network Watchdog Poland

Until now the correctness of spending was verified by state institutions – the Supreme Audit Office and the Regional Chamber of Audit. Post-inspection conclusions of these institutions became motivation to plan the monitoring. The activities of the inspectors showed that 37% of the checked province marshal offices and 59% of the municipalities spent the fees obtained from issuing permits to sell alcoholic beverages for other purposes than those required by the provisions of applicable law [2]. The cases of abuse in this area where reported also by the inspectors of the Regional Chambers of Audit.

Within the monitoring, for the first time the citizens were given a chance to check how the so-called fundusze korkowe (‘Cork Funds’) are spent. It is worth noting that the actions carried out by citizens as part of the monitoring of the fundusz korkowy (‘Cork Fund’) varied from those conducted by the Supreme Audit Office and the Regional Chamber of Audit, as they served the needs of verifying whether or not the funds are spent effectively from the point of view of citizens. The inspections carried out by these institutions do not include qualitative analysis of the adopted programs for prevention of alcoholism and drug addiction, the inspectors do not check either whether the funds are spent effectively and whether a given municipality plans and checks their effectiveness, and especially whether they are directed there, where they should be directed in accordance with the applicable law and the recommendations of the State Agency for Prevention of Alcohol Related Problems.

It is worth noting that the local actions were carried out by the residents of the monitored municipalities, with the support of the Citizens Network Watchdog Poland, an organization, which is responsible for the preparation and coordination of the monitoring.

When?

The first monitoring was carried out from April 2011 (the beginning of the recruitment of persons wanted to carry out the monitoring) and January 2012 (preparation of the reports on monitoring). Data collection and analysis took place between June and December 2011. The effects of this actions are the monitoring reports and information gathered (drawn on the basis of the analysis of documents, interviews and observations). The data collected during the monitoring represent a unique knowledge base available on the website: korkowe.samiswoje.pl/gminy. All the materials developed are available on a free license (the license of Creative Commons BY). In 2012, the monitoring continues as one of the tasks under the action called Your Voice – Your Choice.

Who participated in the Project?

In 2011, the Association invited [3] to the monitoring 28 people representing 15 localities [4]. The reports on the carried out activities were developed in 9 localities. Further activities – meetings, debates, promotion of the monitoring results and reports – are conducted in 7 localities.

Support

Those invited to the project participated in an introductory training on monitoring principles. They also signed a cooperation agreement and the Declaration of Independence, in which they declare, inter alia, that during the monitoring they will not undertake any action related to an election campaign, or any other actions that could be perceived as a conflict of interest. In the course of the training, the participants took part in workshops on the methodology of actions (collecting and analyzing information, conducting interviews and observations, access to public information) and in lectures on the municipal budget and methods for prevention of alcoholism as well as disbursement of funds obtained from the fundusze korkowe (‘Cork Fund’). All lectures (presentations and recordings) are available online at the website: www.korkowe.siecobywatelska.pl.

During the implementation of the monitoring, legal and substantive support was provided by the Association of the Leaders of Local Civic Groups. The participants took part also in a panel and discussion with experts on methods of preventing alcohol problems and in a meeting meant to produce a summary of the monitoring.

Methodology

The participants in the monitoring conducted their study on the basis of standardized methodology and used the online platform for the collection and analysis of data.

The monitoring consisted of gathering information, analyzing documents, comparing the information obtained during the interviews, observations, and other sources of documents. During the monitoring the information was obtained based on the right of access to public information. First, the documents were obtained from the Public Information Bulletins [5], and where they were not available in the Bulletins, the information was obtained by sending requests for access to public information.

The monitoring was based on the study of existing regulations and practices. The study included documents from the last 3 years (from 2009 to 2011). Such scope of the study allowed for the comparison of the documents, determining whether and how they were changed and checking what actions are supported and which have been abandoned. During the study the participants also examined how the funds are obtained and disbursed, they evaluated the work of municipal committees and ongoing operation of the fundusze korkowe (‘Cork Fund’).

The reports that constitute a summary of the monitoring include data based on information obtained from the documents – i.e. municipal and urban programs, reports, minutes, contracts. Local coordinators included in the reports the information checked in a variety of sources.

Internet tool

To collect, analyze and publish the data an online platform was created. Data analysis tool is a unique project of the Association, developed over years of experience in carrying out monitoring. An electronic version of the tool was created by an external company using open source software (Drupal).

Access to the tool is provided only for registered users. In the profiles available after logging in you can find forms for data collection and analysis. They are divided into different issues. The user enters the data responding to questions included in a given issue, and providing documents on the basis of which the answers are recorded. The tool also provides all the information that is necessary for conducting the study:

  • tips on how to carry out the monitoring “step by step”
  • tips and practical hints, for example, variants of a request for public information (e.g. what happens when an office does not respond to a request for public information)
  • patterns of requests for public information
  • interview scenarios (with instructions on how you should prepare yourself and conduct an interview)
  • forms for observation of events (including tips on how to do it)
  • a place to upload documents, audio and video files, notes
  • calendar for recording events.

The website available for other (non-registered) users contains information about the project, a guide to conduct the monitoring ‘step by step’, a knowledge base where you can find the necessary information. The website presents also the results of the 2011 monitoring. See: www.korkowe.siecobywatelska.pl

See also the appendix: Description of the monitoring ‘Fundusz korkowy (Cork Fund) step by step’ – read here!



[1] Cork Fund is a colloquial term denoting the money obtained from licenses to sell alcohol, the money which according to the law should be used to prevent and solve the problems of alcohol and drug addiction. It’s one of the sources reinforcing the budgets of municipalities. They cannot, however, be spent by municipalities for any purpose, but only according to the provisions set out in the applicable law and the recommendations of the State Agency for Prevention of Alcohol Related Problems (PARPA).

[2] The recruitment lasted over a month. 28 people from 15 localities were selected and then invited to the training on the methods of monitoring, municipal budget and the issues related to preventing alcoholism and drug addiction. The criteria for acceptance of the persons were, inter alia, no conflict of interest (understood as working in an institution dependent on funding from the municipal budget, plans to candidate in the next elections, etc.)

[3] These were both town, rural and town-rural municipalities as well as two large cities (Szczecin, Wrocław).

[4] http://www.nik.gov.pl/aktualnosci/nik-o-oplatach-za-zezwolenia-na-handel-alkoholem.html

[5] Public Information Bulletin (BIP) is a special website, which must be operated by all institutions carrying out public tasks or disposing of public assets. This requirement was imposed by the Law on Access to Public Information. BIP has its own logo which can be easily found on the websites of public institutions. The advantage of BIP is a fast and easy access to information and the anonymity of the person seeking the information. The information provided by BIP – as opposed to the information from a standard website of public offices – can be regarded as official and binding. The office which provides information is responsible for its quality.


Logo of the Citizens Network Watchdog Poland.Open Society Foundations logo.Stefan Batory Foundation logo.

The monitoring was conducted by the Citizens Network Watchdog Poland (www.siecobywatelska.pl) under the project “Powerful Watchdogs” (www.watchdog.org.pl) with the support of the Stefan Batory Foundation (www.batory.org.pl). The online tool was created with the support of the Open Society Foundation (www.soros.org).

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