It scored points in the area of openness of local government, town hall periodicals and whistleblowing, or whistleblower protection. The association perceives the biggest gaps in public contracts. “Companies in Brno do not apply for them as much, one of the reasons may be the damaged credibility of Brno as a contracting authority,” the association’s lawyer Marek Zelenka told ČTK. The average number of applicants is around five, according to the statement of the Brno municipality to ČTK.
In the field of public contracts, the association ranked Brno, together with other cities, on the 43rd to 55th place. “Given how many companies there are in Brno and the surrounding area, it can be surprising that they are not very interested in applying for public contracts. The result can be feedback for the contract department and the relevant deputies that something extra needs to be done for companies to make their way to the contract easier,” says Zelenka. According to him, Brno’s credibility as a contracting authority could have been damaged in previous years by the police’s interest in city district contracts.
The spokesman of the Brno municipality, Filip Poňuchálek, said that the number and volume of orders, which are much greater in a city the size of Brno than in a smaller municipality, must be taken into account. “The very demandingness of the implementation, as well as the need to ensure the quality of work, bring increased requirements for experience or the size of the company. Of course, this also brings with it the fact that fewer bidders apply for some procurement procedures. However, situations when no one comes forward are almost exceptional,” he said.
Brno, together with Prague, Uherský Hradiště and Uherský Brod, took first place in the whistleblowing category, where the association examined transparency towards city employees who are suspected of wrongdoing. The Brno municipality received points for the possibility of notification in an encrypted application, which enables anonymous and secure communication. At the same time, they train their own employees on the topic of whistleblowing, which less than a fifth of cities do. Apart from the assessment, however, analysts consider the offer of psychological consultations for whistleblowers to be very positive.
Brno took seventh place in the category of openness of self-government. The association emphasized that people will learn about the council’s program in time, they can look at the documents for the meeting and find out who voted. He sees the biggest room for improvement in transparently informing the public about the activities of commissions and committees.
In the area of town hall periodicals, Brno won points, for example, for the fact that it has established binding rules for publishing periodicals and has an established editorial board. “At the council, we assess what percentage of the opposition is represented in it. In the case of Brno, it is 20 percent, and that is not a very high number. The presence of personalities nominated by the opposition in the editorial board naturally brings in the involvement of alternative opinions and strengthens the guarantee of balanced content,” added Marie Krutišová, vice president of the association. According to her, in the Metropolitan, on average, around three percent of the area is devoted to alternative or critical opinions.
The members of the editorial board are appointed and dismissed by the city council. It consists of nominees of electoral clubs of members of the council and employees of the municipality. “The composition of the political part of the editorial board always corresponds to the composition of the council. In each issue there is an opinion section, which provides equal space to all members of the council. Each club chooses the topic at its own discretion. However, contributions must relate to solving current problems in the city. The space is always the same and is available in every edition,” said Poňuchálek.
The association also doubts whether a town hall-financed and published periodical is even needed in a city the size of Brno. According to the municipality, the latest public opinion research from 2013 shows that 35.4 percent of respondents regularly or often get information about events in Brno from the Metropolitan. Currently, the issue for one year costs six million crowns without tax.