BIRN Serbia Holds Training on Monitoring Local Govts’ Tender Spendings

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BIRN Serbia held a training on monitoring local government spending through public tenders for 13 local journalists and civil society representatives from Nis, Leskovac, and Vranje.

The workshop, entitled “Monitoring local public tenders”, was held in Nis and organised by BIRN Serbia, Civic Initiatives and the Committee for Human Rights Nis on May 12.

The training provided practical advice on data collection and processing techniques, publicly available resources that can help the media and civil society monitor how local governments allocate public funds through tenders, as well as information on risk points and possible abuses.

New data published in BIRN’s database show that during 2022, the Serbian state distributed 6.8 billion dinars, or about 58 million euros, through public tenders.

However, this money was often wasted and regularly used to finance GONGO organisations and tabloids.

During the workshop, BIRN, together with its partners, shared tools and knowledge with journalists and activists so they could report on public spendings through project financing, monitor money flows and analyse public finances, and thus contribute to greater transparency on budget spending and authorities’ accountability. The workshop program focused on previously identified problematic points:

  • stages of the competition at which abuses may occur – and how to report on this
  • the silence of institutions – how to use requests for access to information of public importance to obtain data
  • GONGOs – how to recognize them

“Our goal is to strengthen the local media and provide them with the methodology and knowledge we used in our research and database creation, so that they have the tools to follow and report on this topic,” said Tanja Maksić, BIRN Serbia program manager and the author of the methodology based on which BIRN’s database on public tenders was collected and presented.

“The more eyes that are focused on the spending of the state budget, the less room there will be for abuses. Empowered journalists are indispensable partners in this process,” she added.

The workshop was organised as part of the project “Publicly about public tenders”, which also created the largest database of open data on public tenders.