Over half a million people now have access to real participation in their municipality
The OCMs: citizen bodies to control local governments
After two years of work at the Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD), we are handing over our municipal tool to citizens: the Municipal Citizens’ Observatories (OCMs is the Spanish acronym), a project that fights opacity, encouraging participation in the most accessible level of government: the municipalities, to make them accessible and participatory from below. We are launching the proposal with five observatories already in place that have enabled real participation for more than half a million people in Burgos, Terrassa, Girona, Castelldefels and Moiá. And they won’t be the only ones: there are groups in several municipalities learning and preparing their own websites for their neighbours.
The OCMs propose a Municipal Citizen Audit, enhancing grassroots control: our consultations in a municipality are a part of the audit process as they show us what is important for us in our town. A government team doesn’t know better than us what is needed in our town or city. However, there are few that offer real participation tools in line with citizens’ needs.
We all know by now that our municipalities are opaque; there is no need to look at international statistics that confirm it. We do not understand why we are provided with less information than what we would find in a simple till receipt. And we believe we must not allow this: it is our duty to ensure that municipal accounts are made public, and for this, public pressure is effective.
We encourage you to create or promote your own OCM; an open, organized and self-managed space that will network with the others to achieve greater control of municipal accounts. Up to the date, we are only provided with mostly ineffective institutions such as courts of accounts or ombudsmen.
The tool also has an international orientation and is available in different languages so any city in the world can make use of it. We have developed an open source project because we truly believe in the culture of transparency and the value of sharing information.
If we want to fight corruption, influence governments’ budgets and make our participation go further than voting every four years … What better place to learn than the local level?… and after, we will be able to take it higher.