The Voice of Guanacaste will launch a project of alerts about corruption with international funds

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Translator: Arianna Hernández

The Voice of Guanacaste is one of six journalistic organizations in the world that will receive funding from MuckRock’s DocumentCloud Gateway, an international non-profit organization that brings together journalists, researchers, activists and citizens to promote transparency and democracies by safeguarding public information.

With the $45,000 funding, The Voice will take its GuanaData project to the next level. GuanaData analyzes and investigates the use of public resources by local governments, and reveals possible cases of corruption and malpractice in public contracting.

The proposal consists of improving GuanaData tools and backing up five years of information from the Public Procurement System (Spanish acronym: SICOP) of several Guanacaste municipalities. One of the main objectives is to protect these documents from arbitrary political decisions or cyber attacks, such as the ones suffered by institutions such as the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Finance.

The new fund will be developed hand in hand with the Latin American Center for Journalistic Investigation (CLIP), which will be in charge of all of the technological development of the platforms and tools.

GuanaData has proven to be one of the investigative journalism projects with the most potential in Latin America. Several organizations are already looking to support this innovation, which began by explaining municipal budgets and is now turning into a powerful tool to discover and prevent corruption in local governments. A tool that is also available to all citizens. That’s our goal,” said the director of The Voice of Guanacaste, María Fernanda Cruz.

GuanaData: A Project On the Rise

The GuanaData project initiated in 2017 and, since then, it has gone through several stages.

  1. Three editions of GuanaData analyzed budgets from the municipalities of Santa Cruz, Liberia, Cañas and Bagaces and held community workshops to share tools and knowledge to understand, monitor and get involved in planning projects that use municipal funds.
  2. On a third occasion, in addition to investigating the resources of the local governments of Nicoya and La Cruz, other municipalities in the country were included: Limón, Puntarenas, Talamanca and San Carlos.
  3. In a next stage, together with CLIP, a technological system was developed that identifies and warns of possible anomalies and even cases of corruption in the municipal contracting processes, such as irregular extensions of contracts or multiple contracts with a single provider.

The new funds will allow The Voice of Guanacaste to back up information on public contracts from local governments in the province, in order to continue investigating the use of community resources.Photo: César Arroyo Castro

The funding from MuckRock will now allow SICOP’s information and data to be backed up on the DocumentCloud platform, which anyone in the world can use freely.

Over the past decade, DocumentCloud has gone from a convenient place to host and share primary source materials to becoming a trusted collaboration for high-impact journalism and civil society work,” said MuckRock’s co-founder and CEO, Michael Morisy.

“These grantees, who represent projects from around the world, are helping us test and take advantage of new technologies that will ensure the work can continue, despite the growing technical and legal challenges facing these organizations and the public’s right to the information,” he added.