IRI Releases Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach (VCA) Assessment in Bulgaria

Addressing vulnerabilities to corruption at the municipal level is vital for retaining and restoring people’s trust in the democratic process and institutions. Developed to assist local governments in identifying risks to corrupt practices as a way to improve transparency and accountability, IRI’s Vulnerabilities to Corruption Approach (VCA) assessment has been applied in 10 municipalities in Bulgaria. The seldom use of corruption prevention mechanisms that are otherwise in place is among the vulnerabilities identified. Transparency is also practiced without attention to accessibility of information for the citizens. Unresponsive institutions motivate citizens’ preference to use informal channels. Citizen disengagement is predominant. At the same time formal participation mechanisms are not successful in attracting participation, while involvement of civil society in municipal policy is inconsistent. In addition to these common vulnerabilities, specific ones have been established for each municipality. 

As a result of VCA deployment, IRI has compiled a study of vulnerabilities to corruption and recommendations to address them for the Bulgarian municipalities of Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Kardzhali, Pernik, Razgrad, Ruse, Sofia, Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo, and Vratsa. The study draws upon a political economy analysis that pre-emptively identified reform trajectories, windows of opportunity, and potential bottlenecks. The report’s findings and recommendations are based on data collected though 115 semi-structured interviews of local stakeholders.  

The study constitutes the foundation for a process to generate reform efforts to address the identified vulnerabilities. It will serve as a steppingstone for IRI-convened municipal working groups and help them focus their work on drafting tailored reform agendas for each municipality to improve transparency and civic participation. 

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