Budget transparency innovations bring new extent and forms of transparency. The aim of the article is to explore the diffusion of budget explorers, that is, a budget transparency innovation extremely popular in the Czech Republic, and to evaluate their impact on voluntary budget information disclosed.
Careful mapping of the diffusion using a survey of budget explores in 72 former Czech district towns and media analysis shows that the key success factor was its convenience for politicians, as it is attractive, easy to implement and up-to-date demonstration of their transparency. Budget explorers are nowadays a standard extension to accounting software, and their usage is evaluated in several government transparency competitions.
The major benefit of the budget explorers is that they made for the first time publicly available detailed public financial information, changed the standard of best practice and drew some public attention. At the same time, they, unfortunately, narrowed the scope of the budget transparency debate by omitting the importance of the draft budget and introduction of performance measurement.
Inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) in the Czech Republic is common and flexible and is generally viewed as a means to reduce problems related to the highly fragmented local government structure. The paper utilizes financial and accounting data of public entities to evaluate the character and magnitude of inter-municipal cooperation in the Czech Republic. It concludes that the extent of public services provided based on the service contracts or through institutionalized forms of IMC is quite limited and that the majority of the IMC is somewhat informal and soft , e.g. exchange of experience and ad-hoc projects.
Introduction of the local coefficient in the property tax law since 2009 gave a significant tax authority to Czech municipalities; on average they can up to quadruple their property tax revenue which means increasing their total revenue by more than 10%. Czech municipalities appeared very cautious when exercising this new autonomy and only less than 8% of them applied the local coefficient in 2013.
The theory of yardstick competition offers one of the possible explanations of this reluctance: Voters do not vote for politicians who increase taxes unless the politicians in the neighbouring jurisdictions increase taxes as well. So municipal politicians are carefully observing what others do and approve the local coefficient with prudence.
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the usage of the local coefficient with special regard to spatial distribution and impacts on re-election and to verify the existence of the yardstick competition among Czech municipalities in case of the property tax.
The results of the difference of means test using data for 206 municipalities with extended scope comply with this theory: (1) politicians who applied local coefficient in 2010 got re-elected in a significantly lesser number of municipalities than those who did not, and (2) in all years analyzed, municipalities applying local coefficient are surrounded by a higher share of municipalities with local coefficient than municipalities without it.