In 1996, the Dominican government initiated a modernization process aimed at decentralizing the government and improving the general administrative structure and functions throughout the country. From the year 2000 onwards, various laws and regulations were emitted as part of a larger institutional reform that bound the centralized federal government to shift more administrative power to regional and municipal administrations. During this process, not only was participatory budgeting installed by law as mandatory for each Dominican municipality, but this legal framework also mandated a wide turn towards citizen participation at the municipal level.
The Dominican Republic was, in fact, one of the first countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region to implement such an extensive and all-encompassing legislation aimed at fostering participation and civic engagement from the local level upwards. Nonetheless, its implementation is still ongoing, with many municipalities facing trouble in complying with all the detailed provisions found in the law. Moreover, the country is confronted by a number of challenges that affect local administrations directly, such as the fight against high rates of criminality and corruption. As a consequence, public trust in government, perceived insecurity, and electoral apathy remain high, according to AmericasBarometer, and are continuing as such in the latest years measured. Perceived and measurable corruption both remain at high levels, with the general political identity measured as the most right-leaning population in the entire region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Therefore, both the central government and local municipalities have faced the challenge of modernizing institutions and implementing policies by opening up a large number of innovative institutional spaces aimed at informing and involving society in the realization of these measures. A big step in this direction has been the Dominican Republic’s full commitment to the Open Government Partnership in 2011; according to which the country has engaged in a gradual implementation of open data strategies, the raising of publicity of governmental acts and in undertaking transparency initiatives.
At the same time, these efforts are closely monitored by several NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and local groups. Therefore, a high number of civil society-led initiatives have been concerned with the installation of observatories set to follow the implementation of legal measures and international agreements and programs.
Various international organizations, such as USAID, the Canadian and German development services, the European Union and the World Bank have also led continuous initiatives supporting the work of NGOs in the country to keep track of its democratic development. In particular, in the areas of women and youth rights, minority rights and citizen participation, which have been in the spotlight for years.
Finally, democratic innovations surrounding the 2016 national and local elections are characterized by a digital turn towards instruments of monitoring and securing transparency and the rule of law. Citizens and private stakeholders have been using technology more and more to report misconduct during elections, to control the performance of public institutions, and to make use of open government resources to develop specific projects further.
Social Audit Committees / Follow-up Committees
The Social Audit Committees, created by Decree No. 39-03 and then incorporated by Law 176-07, which termed them Municipal Monitoring Committees, are specific audit and control bodies for the execution ...Read more
Local Democracy Watch
In 2010 and 2012, the Solidarity Foundation organized public monitoring of municipal administrations, which included 9 municipalities and three other public administrations, such as the Tobacco Institute (INTABACO) or the ...Read more
Forums "Let's Talk about Municipal Reform"
"Let's Talk about Municipal Reform" is the name of a series of public consultations held at the beginning of 2016, as part of the work for the National Development Agenda ...Read more
Observatory for Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups
The Observatory for Human Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Dominican Republic is a platform where civil rights individuals and organizations can report cases of human rights violations against marginalized ...Read more
Know Your Budget
Fundación Solidaridad (lit. Solidarity Foundation), a civil society organization, together with the International Budget Partnership (IBP), founded a campaign for budget transparency in the Dominican Republic named ‘Conoce tu Presupuesto’ ...Read more