The Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society, within the USAID Civic Engagement Project, assessed the state of good governance in the local self-government units (LSGUs) in the Republic of North Macedonia for 2021. The assessment is the result of a survey based on the Openness Index.

The 2021 survey found that most municipalities do not work hard enough to meet openness standards. The results in the areas indicate that the LSGUs apply low standards for consultation, transparency, monitoring and control in their work. The average openness of the municipalities for 2021 is only 25%.

The openness index showed that in the measurement for 2021 the best results have the municipalities of Ohrid (51%), Vasilevo (48%) and Kocani (48%), while the municipality of Plasnica is the lowest-ranked with only 3%.

A public event was held on 16 November to present the results of the Index for 2021, where participants had the opportunity to directly take part in the discussion with the researchers in the project, and with representatives of local government.

Jasminka Popovska, a representative of the Local Development Agency Struga, partner of the Metamorphosis Foundation in measuring the Openness Index, referred to the experience with some of the municipalities that were monitored by the organization.

“Many of the web pages are non-functional, some web pages are difficult to search, while others the quick search button does not work at all. Often, uploaded documents are in an inappropriate form, and are not searchable. Simply, if we want to see the budget of the school attended by our children, we simply cannot. How can we, as citizens, get the information we need from the municipalities? For example, what is the garbage collection schedule within the municipality? However, a positive aspect is that the employees in the administration have a great interest in working on this, and many of the omissions are made out of ignorance. In the future, much attention should be paid to the education of municipal employees.” – said Popovska.

The representative of the Foundation for development of the local community from Štip, Boris Šarkovski, also a partner of Metamorphosis in the measurement of the Openness Index, talked about the similarities and differences between the urban and rural municipalities, with a smaller population, and how it affects the openness and transparency of the municipality.

“Municipalities need to take more seriously the importance of transparency in the interest of citizens. We hope that with the new policymakers who were elected in the last local elections, they will achieve close cooperation and partnership again, in the interest of the citizens and in order to improve the services that the municipalities offer to them,” said Šarkovski.

Marija Vasilevska, Program Manager at the Center for Social Innovation Blink 42/21 from Skopje, spoke about the unexpected challenges and results faced by the research team during the measurement, as well as the availability and openness of municipal administrations to such surveys, seen from the aspect of civil society organizations.

“CSOs and municipalities should work in partnership on openness and transparency. An excellent opportunity to achieve this is through the mCommunity which enables easy communication between municipalities and citizens and digitalization of some of the services. It is crucial to understand that we are all aiming for a better community,” Vasilevska said.

The recommendations of the research will be transmitted to all representatives of the local self-governments that were subject to monitoring, through meetings, as well as to the general public through social media and holding public events. The research is conducted annually and allows us to compare the extent to which these recommendations are followed. This assessment is available in Macedonian, Albanian and English on the Metamorphosis website. This research was conducted as part of Metamorphosis activities within the USAID Civic Engagement Project.