General Secretariat of Presidency of Republic and Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Brazil has developed diverse initiatives for social participation in local planning and budgeting processes. The experiences of participatory budgeting (OP), spread across several states and hundreds of municipalities, are the best known. As this trend grew stronger in local government, at the federal scope the openness to participation in planning and budgeting was still quite shy. Social organizations and movements, since 1980s, articulated their efforts to influence the planning and budget elaboration and monitoring its implementation. In the absence of a specific institutional channel, this incidence was done through lobbying, dialogues with parliamentarians, discussions with sector councils or pressure on the executive agencies. The demands were presented in fragmented form, isolatedly and entirely dependent on the power of influence of the group that vocalized them. This scenario represented a difficulty for organized groups seeking to influence the public agenda, especially on issues involving minorities and vulnerable populations (ethnic, racial, elderly, LGBT, gender, poverty, migration, indigenous etc.). With low power of vocalization and little parliamentary representation, these groups did not recognize themselves into the governmental planning. Moreover, the lack of a federal mechanism for participatory planning cornered the demands of social organizations and movements to sectoral bodies such as national councils. This generated dissociation between national planning on the one hand, and implementation of sectoral public policies, on the other, which did not contribute to the design of a common agenda for national development. During the elaboration of the four-year-long Multi-Year Plans (PPA) 2004-2007 and 2008-2011 there were processes of consultation to civil society, involving public hearings and regional audiences. However, mobilizations were sporadic, involving participants during times of development, but had no continuity throughout the implementation of the plans. Another problem observed in these previous initiatives was the fragility of the responses provided to participants. There has been no official communication about the outcome of the analysis of the various proposals, which made it impracticable to verify which have been effectively incorporated into the plan. Without this feedback, participants had to search the results directly with the agencies responsible for sectoral policy areas, which further contributed to the fragmentation of dialogue. There was therefore a triple challenge presented to the PPA 2012-2015: (1) establish participatory methodologies and channels that could influence the federal planning, harnessing the accumulation of historical experiences of municipal OP, but adapting to the reality and scale proper of federal level; (2) consider and respect the existing participatory spaces in various areas of public policy, such as national conferences and councils, articulating an intersectoral strategy in which government and civil society could discuss the issue of federal public planning as a whole and not fragmentally; (3) make participatory spaces articulated with the management of public planning, particularly by way of monitoring, in order to make social participation a permanent practice sustained throughout the implementation of the plan.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The strategy of the Intercouncil Forum (FI) was entirely designed by the teams of public servants from MPOG and SGPR. Initially, it was necessary to review the initiatives previously developed to address the challenge of participative planning and budgeting in federal level. Main sources of data came from the PPA 2004-2007 and PPA 2008-2011, both showing some level of public consultation in its preparation, and the recommendations of an interrupted workgroup assembled in 2007 (Presidential Decree of March 1st) to propose some guidelines to foster social participation on the matter. This resulted in a proposal of a “second-level” participatory structure, that would consider all the large spectrum of collegiate organs already existing in the government. The proposed structure was therefore called “Fórum Interconselhos” or Intercouncil Forum (FI), due to fact that relied primarily upon the national councils, operating in-between them. This initiative is about the building of a direct channel of dialogue and influence over decisions, regarding public planning and budgeting in federal level. Its main objective is to empower citizens, by existing participatory structures as national councils, to monitor and participate in decision-making processes about planning and budgeting of public policies as a whole. Thus, there are two major intended audiences targeted by this strategy: (1) more directly, the representatives of social organizations and movements (non-governmental ones) that already take part in a national council and could be appointed to compose the FI; (2) indirectly, citizens in general, who could take part of the open-access channels developed (public hearings and internet groups) or would be involved in similar activities replicated by the councils. So, the councils are not only members of the “intercouncils” forum, but also expected as multipliers and diffusor elements of it. Articulating with the councils was also necessary as a way to spread the required knowledge about public planning and budgeting, which lacks in some of the social organizations and movements interested in doing social monitoring, and even more in non-organized citizens. Therefore, the FI was thought of as a huge and comprehensive pedagogic process, able to share between government and society the specificities regarding public planning and budgeting as an institutional technology, as well as the social wisdom that would allow a proper monitoring. In summary, the institutional design of a participative strategy in such environment should deal with that aforementioned triple challenge: make it unique and innovative to adapt itself to the scale of federal level; take into account and articulate the diverse and heterogeneous participatory structures already existing; and be so integrated to the routines of planning and budgeting that would make itself permanent. Today it is possible to see that the main objective of developing a participative strategy to social monitoring of public planning and budgeting in federal level was accomplished. Similarly, only today it is possible to perceive that such an achievement just opened up a large view of possibilities and necessities of fostering citizen engagement in the deep core of public decision-making, like a democratic Pandora Box.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The Multi-Year Plan 2012-2015 was elaborated with the participation of civil society, through the Intercouncil Forum (FI). The Forum was developed as a "second-level" instance of social participation, i.e., dependent and supported (non-autonomously) by the range of already existing participatory institutions in the federal government, promoting a permanent and articulated dialogue with them, expanding their competence and influence over a common and intersectoral agenda of national development. This resulted in an institutional transformation of planning in Brazil, in various approaches. It has demonstrated the possibility of interaction with society considering the set of existing institutions and a project of national development (1st FI). It confirmed that it is possible to build credibility through honest responses to presented proposals, with precise indication of the points of consensus and dissent between government and society (2nd FI). Moreover, it strengthened the conviction that public planning is a continuous process and that citizens have interest and ability to participate in not only its development, but also in the monitoring of the plan that they helped to build (3rd FI). Finally, it has shown that public budgeting and transversal policies, referring to social minorities, can be monitored in a participative and permanent way (4th FI).

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The ultimate goal of ensuring effective social participation in national planning and budgeting was established by the President of the Republic herself. It was left to the technical teams of MPOG and SGPR develop the institutional design that would meet the expectations of government and society. The spreading of the discussions on the new plan was made by the inclusion of the subject on the agenda of the councils, when MPOG and SGPR teams discussed the preparation of PPA in 22 councils, which in turn fostered the debate among citizens in general. In 1st FI, on 24 and 25 May 2011, representatives of the MPOG and SGPR exposed the new format of the plan and a draft proposal. The 300 society representatives were divided into groups by topic and by region, and could present its recommendations to government planning, intersectorally and articulately, taking into account what had been discussed by their councils and organizations. After a specific analysis of the proposals, the 2nd FI, on October 13, 2011, the same organizations were called to discuss the government's response to what had been proposed. The session was carried through in videoconference with state capitals and simultaneously broadcast via internet. In this meeting was presented the idea of Transversal Agendas (AT), a thematic selection and compilation of elements of the PPA, as a transparency instrument for identification and monitoring of government actions aimed at specific groups. To strengthen the link between planning and budgeting, the MPOG promoted an overhaul of the structure of planning and budgetary laws and developed an integrated computer system for planning and budget, with information freely accessible. The SGPR, in turn, promoted dialogue with councils and civil society entities, especially those that showed the biggest concerns with the new format, putting together the main criticisms received. With the goal of information equity, comprehension difficulties presented by the participants were faced by the teams of SGPR and MPOG through the elaboration of informative materials in accessible language, as well as conducting preparatory courses, as the course about "Basics Notions on Planning, Budget and Participation", held on 7 and 8 November 2012. Next, there was the institutionalization of the Forum as a permanent place for monitoring the national planning, during the 3rd FI, on 7 to 9 November 2012, when the pact was made that the Forum would carry out the monitoring the AT of PPA. So, in 2013, for the first time in history, the Brazilian federal government developed specific participative processes of public consultation, mediated by internet, about annual federal budgetary guidelines (LDO) and annual budgetary law (LOA), following the pacts from FI. Finally, the 4th FI, on 2 September 2013, brought the first official federal report for each one of the AT, starting the participative monitoring of public planning and budgeting by society. MAIN CHRONOLOGY -2011: 24-25 May - 1st INTERCOUNCIL FORUM: presentation of proposals by society. 13 October - 2nd INTERCOUNCIL FORUM: responses to the proposals. -2012: 18 January - enacted Law no. 12.593, establishing the PPA 2012-2015. 7-9 November - 3rd INTERCOUNCIL FORUM: proposed participatory monitoring of PPA. 19 December - edited Decree n. 7866, mentioning social participation in the management of the PPA. -2013: February-June – Workgroup composed by members of FI is assembled and presents, for the first time ever, social contributions to federal budgetary guidelines (LDO) and annual budget law (LOA). 9 July – first PUBLIC HEARING on federal budgeting. 2 September - 4th INTERCOUNCIL FORUM: first report on planning and budget implementation submitted for social analysis. 24 December - enacted Law no. 12.919, establishing the LDO 2014 (first elaborated with social participation).

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Intercouncil Forum (FI) was a joint and horizontal initiative of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic (SGPR) and the Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management (MPOG), involving the national councils of several areas of the federal government. Under the MPOG, the initiative is part of a broader effort to revise the methodology of public planning, reinforcing the culture of planning and a national project of development based on human rights, backed by an integrated planning and budgeting information system. Under the SGPR, the effort is part of the overall strategy of strengthening social participation as a human right, a policy of state and a governmental method, backed by a Social Participation National Policy. National councils, related to different areas of public policy, formed the basic structure upon which relied the Forum. Each of the councils has promoted discussion about public planning among its members and thus acted as a diffuser point for all organizations and movements represented there. Council representatives, chosen solely from its non-governmental members, have attended to the Forum and have been responsible for coordination between discussions on national FI and on their origin collegiate. Another key allegiance was the participation of social organizations and movements invited to join the FI. They have promoted an increase in the diversity of opinions within the Forum, to broaden representation and allow the inclusion of minority or vulnerable groups. With the participation of these entities, the historical accumulation from non-governmental initiatives to participation in planning and budgeting can be respected, considered and integrated into the current proposals. STAFF – Civil Servants COORDINATORS: Daniel Avelino (SGPR); Leopoldo Vieira (MPOG). SUPPORTERS - SGPR: Gilberto Carvalho (Minister); Paulo Maldos (Secretary); Pedro Pontual (Director). MPOG: Miriam Belchior (Minister); Esther Bemerguy (Secretary); José Roberto Júnior (Secretary).
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Talking about financial resources, the FI shows relatively low cost compared with other similar initiatives. Full organization of the 1st FI totaled less than R$ 200,000.00, plus costs of air transport and publications. The 2nd FI, which did not involve air transportantion of participants, had almost all their expenses absorbed by routine activities of the agencies. In turn, the 3rd and 4th FI expenses involved not much more than publications, air tickets and personal expenses refunds for participants. Coordinating bodies of the Forum (SGPR and MPOG) mobilized its own ordinary budgets, in which had already been forecast activities such as promoting social participation and development of PPA. While financial costs would be low, mobilization of human resources was quite intense. All the work of organizing the Forum, including social communication and dialogue with participants, was conducted by teams of SGPR and MPOG. Consolidation and analysis of the proposals from society, as well as the preparation of government own proposals, involved an intense intellectual work from those public servants. Technical resources came from the agencies themselves or from partners. Institutional design of the Intercouncil Forum was conceived entirely based on the expertise of teams of MPOG and SGPR, considering Presidential guidelines and previous experiences, relying on huge amount of knowledge provided by successful cases of participatory budgeting in municipal level. Strategies for information spreading have been prepared under the guidance of governmental advisory organs of communication. The online live broadcast of the events was made possible through partnerships with public institutions like Interlegis, (from Federal Senate) and SERPRO. ENAP collaborated in mediating the 1st FI and developing formative activities for 3rd FI. Information systems to be used for monitoring the PPA will be those already developed and maintained by MPOG and SGPR. It is highly important to mention that the mobilization of resources by SGPR and MPOG was accompanied by an effort from all organizations and entities involved to encourage debate and participation, which also involves some costs. Organizing discussion sessions, developing its own publications, displacement of representatives for preparatory discussions and various forms of communication and dissemination are some examples of actions taken by the participants directly, by its own expenses.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
First, Intercouncil Forum promoted a conjugation of government and social expectations about public planning and budgeting. The space created for dialogue in the PPA 2012-2015 and occupied by the society is a solid and permanent basis for thinking about social participation in all the coming national plans. For the first time ever, there is a popular monitoring of all actions of the federal government at once, in a perspective of national development. Second, the numbers involved are impressive. The PPA 2012-2015 encompasses all areas of activity of the federal government, including the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches, direct (ministries and secretariats) and indirect (foundations, institutes and public companies) public administration. This represents R$ 5.5 trillion (~ U.S. $ 2.7 trillion) of public investment, of which R$ 2.5 trillion (45.5%) are for the social area. Of these, 55% are for shares of social security, benefiting about 100 million Brazilians, and 12% for health, offered to the entire population. In other areas there was also emphasis on social investments: from the R$ 1.1 trillion planned for the area of infrastructure, for example, 57.7% are for improving housing and electricity. Third, the FI starts in Brazil the experience of social participation of second level. It sets its basis on the extensive range of existing channels of social participation, articulating its actors around national and intersectoral themes, promoting synergy and networking on a scale previously nonexistent. At the same time, strengthens each one of these channels individually, to enhance its powers concerning public planning and budgeting through a direct dialogue with the federal competent agencies, as there was not before. Fourth, it has shown that public interest and governmental planning could be more convergent than it was thought. In the 1st FI more than 800 recommendations had been received, which were synthesized in 600 proposals for government planning as a whole. Of these, there were a total of 97% of convergence (77% complete and 20% partial) between what was proposed by society and which was latter submitted to National Congress as government planning for the next four years. Fifth, the choice of the Transversal Agendas (AT) as the main focus of monitoring has revealed itself as a powerful outcome in information about equity. The AT unveils the governmental actions under the perspective of nine specific social groups: children and teenagers; youth; elderly; women; racial and ethnical groups; indigenous people; LGBT; disabled; and street dwellers.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The Intercouncil Forum (FI) can be seen at the same time as an agent that promotes the monitoring of public planning and budgeting and as a governmental initiative itself worth being monitored. About the former, much has been discussed above, but it is important to emphasize that all activities of FI are part of the official system of management of PPA, sharing the same data and the same procedures established in behalf of organs that promote political control of public accounts. All of this is supported by an all-new Integrated System of Planning and Budgeting (SIOP), with a friendly public interface in internet ( for raw data access. As an initiative itself, the FI is submitted to monitoring and evaluation of both government (internal) and society (external). Internally, the strategy is constantly discussed and revised by thematic meetings of MPOG and SGPR during each phase of planning and budgeting. Collective evaluation is also gathered among national councils periodically. Externally, each activity promoted by the FI is concluded by a step of self-assessment, in which the methodology itself is put in debate. This way, part of the proposal presented by society and responded by government is directed to the implementation of FI. There is also an internet platform (, developed by SGPR entirely in free software, that will host most of the activities of the FI and promote a comprehensive register of opinions issued. Recently, the outcomes of FI made it be confirmed as a specific commitment in Brazilian Second Action Plan in Open Government Partnership. Finally, it is important to highlight that as a governmental initiative, the FI is part of the PPA, as a specific goal about social participation in public planning. Therefore, all its activities are monitored through the system established in Presidential Decree n. 7866, valid for all federal government. Its data are part of the reports submitted to evaluation by National Congress and, in an evident metalinguistics, by society itself in FI.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The biggest challenge was trust-building. In spite of well-succeeded local initiatives, there was not an expressive history of social participation in federal planning and budgeting. Experiences with previous PPAs were important, but also generated a lot of criticism by participants. Working groups were created and interrupted without continuity in the process. There was no guarantee that society would use the newly created channel of participation. This situation was faced, in the first place, with an intense dialogue, before and after each one of the Forums, with the involved actors. This served to dispel the doubts and incorporate the criticisms presented. Moreover, the specific government response was crucial. The 2nd FI was called less than five months after the first meeting, showing the results of the analysis of each of the proposals, indicating the items of the plane in which they were incorporated or the reasons why they were not. Finally, it was important to transform the Forum into a continuous process. The calls to the 2nd and 3rd Forums assured the participants that the government was willing to maintain dialogue, recognizing the importance of society participation not only in drafting the plan, but also in monitoring what was agreed upon. Right after the renowned protests that toke the streets in Brazil, the documents presented in 4th FI put that pact into work and showed, in practice, how a participatory monitoring could be developed. Far beyond the specific discussions about public planning and budgeting, the official reports for each one of the nine Transversal Agendas were widely received by the public as a quintessential tool of information for advocacy and political action in behalf of social minorities. In terms of trust-building, government and society are not the same as they were three years ago.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The adhesion to the process was an indication of the credibility built. About 300 non-governmental representatives from more than 30 national councils and over 80 civil society organizations attended the 1st FI, in two days of meetings. The 2nd FI had 200 participants in Brasilia, with simultaneous videoconferencing sessions held in 6 other states, for a day. The 3rd and 4th FI were composed of 200 participants from over 30 councils and more than 60 civil society organizations. In terms of effectiveness, the quantitative assessment is also positive. In the 1st FI more than 800 recommendations had been received, which were synthesized in 600 proposals for government planning as a whole. Of these, there were a total of 97% of convergence (77% complete and 20% partial) between what was proposed by society and which was submitted to National Congress as government planning for the next four years. These measures depict only a partial portrait of the changes promoted in trust-building between government and society. Concretely, the FI as a second-level participatory structure provides a complete revamp on the political role of the national councils. At first extremely heterogeneous, with only a few ones harnessing the power to intervene in planning and budgeting of its areas, now all of them, even the merely consultative ones, has at its disposal an effective and direct channel to discuss all public policies as a whole. It has set the path for them to go beyond sectoral analysis and really think about a national development agenda. The Transversal Agendas (AT) have also been a major example for how the participatory monitoring can make a difference to political role of social movements. In each one of the nine themes reported, militants and activists have now a massive amount of information, on public policies, that is at the same time official and unified, which means that there is no need anymore to collect sparse data from each one of the governmental agencies that deal with that topic. Thus, although there are still heterogeneities in governmental organs regarding openness and dialogue with public, all of its information makes its way to the engaged citizens through a direct, clear, unified and official path. Maintaining its focus on most vulnerable social groups (children and teenagers; youth; elderly; women; racial and ethnical groups; indigenous people; LGBT; disabled; and street dwellers), the AT explicit a governmental commitment to social equity. They also allow citizens to perceive more clearly, without the challenges of the technical language, what has been done in benefit of the given social group and what still needs to be. Both for the design of the participatory process and for the results which it helped to promote, this is an unprecedented (long-term and large-scale) transformation of the relationship between the government of Brazil and the Brazilians.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The need for low budget resources makes Intercouncil Forum highly sustainable, from a financial point of view, while the use of internal expertise from coordinators agencies also makes the initiative technically sustainable. From a social standpoint, the existence of a number of civil society organizations interested and enabled (and already working in) to the monitoring of public actions contributes to the continuity of the action, while stimulates the diffusion of this culture of social participation within the government. The commitment to social participation as stated in the Law of the PPA - the superior law of public planning in the federal government - and in its management decree guarantees a safe institutional framework, reinforced and regulated by agreements made between participants in each edition of the FI. The initiative is already being replicated within the federal government in other areas. There were, for example, strategies for social participation through intercouncil meetings in Plano Juventude Viva (plan for reduction of violence against black youth) and in Plano Brasil sem Miséria (comprehensive plan to eradicate extreme poverty), which made use of mobilization and discussion inspired by Intercouncil Forum. Key aspects, such as the enhancement and networking of existing instances of social participation, the specific response and the focus on national development agenda are methodologies being recommended to other participatory spaces. Therefore, the FI is an initiative highly replicable, both nationally and internationally. However, some of the features of its political and institutional context deserve to be observed, such as the previous existence of a range of instances of social participation relatively consolidated and institutionalized; existence of a motivated and competent team of public servants to carry out the institutional design of the Forum and develop specific responses to proposals; existence of civil society actors who trust government highly enough to cooperate with the entire process; and effective commitment from policy makers to consider and respond to social contributions to a national development project. Complied with these conditions, the initiative can be fully adapted to meet the specificities of other contexts.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
One of the most important lessons learned is the importance of the contribution of society in all areas of government, even the most specialized ones. The lack of a formal technical knowledge by social actors is more than balanced by the experience in monitoring government actions, by the popular wisdom, by the history of political activism, and by the knowledge of specific reality of their region or social group. When the government recognizes these practices as legitimate knowledge, the public planning activity is enhanced in quality and legitimacy, in a way that could not be achieved otherwise. Another important confirmation was great potential for dialogue between government and society. Both governmental and non-governmental participants learned together that to every society proposal must correspond an analysis and a response from the government, which may be a refusal whenever an agreement is not possible, but must always be supported by a honest and transparent motivation about what was presented. The FI unveiled a high degree of convergence between the aspirations of society and the actions envisaged in the PPA 2012-2015, indicating that much of what is demanded today is already being provided by the government in some way. Following this learning, monitoring activities can show if there are problems in implementation, in selection of beneficiaries or even in communication to the general public. That has become even more relevant after the protests that occurred in Brazilian streets in June, 2013. Therefore, the Intercouncil Forum promotes a transformation in Brazilian participatory democracy, a seed of democratic reform of state meant to be cultivated together by government and society.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   General Secretariat of Presidency of Republic and Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Daniel Avelino
Title:   Sr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +55 61 3411 4384
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Praça dos Três Poderes, Palácio do Planalto, sala 105, Anexo II-A
Postal Code:   70.150-900
City:   Brasília
State/Province:   DF

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