Accounting and Fiscal Information System for the Brazilian Public Sector (Siconfi)
National Treasury Secretariat

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
With the publication of Complementary Law Nº 101/2000 (LRF), important parameters, limits and sanctions were set to induce public managers to perform their job with maximum rationality and professionalism. The Law also imposed obligations on the various national entities and on the National Treasury, which now has the need to receive information to carry out its new duties. In this sense, the consolidation of the accounts of the Federation entities referred to in art. 51 of Law Nº 101/2000, required the standardization of the chart of accounts, the budget classification of public revenues and expenditures, and reports within the Federation units, since consolidate information in different formats would be impossible. The Law also imposed on the National Treasury the observance of the entities accountability (Annual Balance), preventing the Federation unit from receiving voluntary transfers and contracting credit operations until it has regularized its situation. In addition, the need to receive fiscal reports (Summary Report on Budgetary Execution - RREO and Fiscal Management Report - RGF) to constitute the requests for credit operations required receipt of a large volume of documents. In this context, shortly after the publication of Complementary Law Nº 101/2000, the System for Collecting Accounting Data from the Federation Units – SISTN was created. Its purpose was to receive data and accounting information regarding the Annual Balance Sheet, Budget Execution Summary Report (RREO) and Fiscal Management Report (RGF), as provided for in Legislation and ordinances issued by STN. For years, SISTN assisted the STN in the new tasks imposed by the Law. However, as time went by, difficulties arose. SISTN was developed on a platform that made it difficult to update the reports, which were periodically modified by STN to adapt to changes in current legislation and to cover improvements in accounting processes. In addition, the SISTN interface was no longer user-friendly. The process of homologation of the reports was executed manually by the users who had to prove the information inserted through printed reports, which were taken to a branch of a public bank for checking. Another limitation of the system was the lack of information validation, which in many cases allowed inconsistent information to be approved. Finally, the system did not provide management reports in accessible format not only to decision-makers but also to ordinary citizens. Public information were available in PDF format only. On May 27, 2009, Complementary Law Nº 131 expanded the transparency of public accounts, requiring the provision of reliable and quality information for the citizen. Given this scenario, STN detected the need to create a new system that would bring efficiency and sufficient skills to identify methodologies, processes and opportunities to broaden public transparency, as well as to support the decision-making process of public managers and help the elaboration of medium and long-term public policies.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Accounting and Fiscal Information System for the Brazilian Public Sector - Siconfi, based on XBRL technology, was developed. With the implementation of the system, users now have a friendly interface application, modern, secure, and available in a WEB environment, eliminating the use of documents and reducing processes. Users also have an information portal where they can find all the help they need to carry out their activities quickly and efficiently.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Siconfi can be accessed at www.siconfi.tesouro.gov.br and consists of two interfaces with different purposes: the so-called "public area", of free navigation, is accessible to all interested parties; and, the "restricted area", exclusive of registered users, responsible for the insertion of information. Registered users in the restricted area have several features and processes that added value and reliability to their work, such as: • Auto-registration and validation of users: to access the system, users make their own registration, not having to send documents or having any contact with the STN. However, as a security measure, to complete the registration, every user needs to be validated by another that already has a registration in the system, which reduces the risk of unauthorized users access. The institution chief, in charge of validating the first users, must initially access the system with the use of its digital certificate. • Sending modes: sending information can be done in three different ways: online in WEB form, loading Excel worksheet and loading XBRL instances. All forms of data entry are converted to the XBRL standard; • Validation of information: XBRL technology enables the STN business area to enter validations into reports. These validations run automatically as users complete their reports. Only the reports that go through all validations are approved; • Digital Certification: As a measure to guarantee security and privacy, several system functionalities can only be executed if access has been made through digital certificate. Among them, the main action is the reports signature: after the validations, the reports must be digitally signed by the competent authorities, according to the pertinent legislation. This provides the generation of PDF documents with digital signature that can be verified and constitute legally valid document. In the Siconfi public area, several resources are available that constitute an important tool of communication between STN and the society in general, such as: • Public consultations: all public area inquiries can be accessed by any citizen. Siconfi is the only original database of accounting, fiscal and financial data of the public sector that covers all public entities in Brazil. There is a large repository of accounting reports, which is accessed by researchers, journalists, students, control institutions, public managers, or even by social organizations committed to assessing budgetary and fiscal performance of municipalities, states, Federal District or Union; • Georeferenced queries: consultations in which you can visualize indicators through interactive maps; • Finbra (Finance of Brazil): allows the extraction of information in a manageable format (CSV). Through this consultation, it is possible to extract all the information from all municipalities, municipalities of a state, capitals, states and the Federal District at one time; • News, manuals, instructions and guides, and video tutorials: constantly updated, they guide users to send information, help solve common questions, detail the processes, broadcast events, promote training and inform society as a whole; • Calendar of events: guides and shows relevant dates in relation to Siconfi and public accounting. In this channel, users can consult the date of events, deadlines for sending reports etc.; • "Contact Us" service: Siconfi's great differential, "Contact Us" service is a two-way communication channel. Through it, users and citizens can ask questions about the system and the information available. Since the implementation of Siconfi in 2014, more than 30 thousand messages have been answered. As a rule, all messages received up to 6:00 pm are answered on the same day.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The technology chosen to be part of Siconfi is the XBRL - Extensible Business Reporting Language, specifically designed for business and financial data exchange. This pattern was unprecedented in Brazil and its use for information exchange between governing institutions was unprecedented in the world. XBRL is an internationally widespread technology, XML-based (eXtensible Markup Language), in line with the standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards for the web. Therefore, it is an open standard, rated with 5 stars (maximum level) in maturity of open data disclosure, and specialized for publication of accounting and financial data. In Brazil, XBRL was included in the e-PING, interoperability architecture used by government, after suggestions from National Treasury, other participating agencies and specialists in the information and communication technology. Another innovation was the implementation of the automatic validation of the data made in the system itself, which avoids the production of divergent or misleading information. In addition, the signature of the public managers through digital certification ensures authenticity, security and non-repudiation as to the reliability of the information available in Siconfi.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Siconfi was developed by the National Treasury Secretariat in partnership with the Federal Data Processing Service - Serpro, both agencies of the Ministry of Finance. The initiative initially aimed to improve the work process of information providers (various agents of the Federation who are required to send information to the National Treasury). The improvement of the process, in turn, also indirectly affected agents that work in the process inside STN. In addition, the deployment of the system benefited thousands of indirect users who started to use the information provided by the system. Siconfi is used by public agents of all the 5,568 municipalities, the 26 states, the Federal District and the Union. There are 11,378 registered entities in the system, with more than 34 thousand registered users. Other users of the information provided by Siconfi are: • STN: Siconfi information is used by several areas of the STN, configuring an instrument for integrating functions, such as: analysis of credit operation, payment capacity, calculation of fiscal statistics, etc. • Public entities: Ministry of Finance, IBGE, IPEA, Federal Senate, Courts of Accounts; • Financial agents; • NGOs: meumunicipio.org; • International organizations: World Bank, IDB; • Press: several media. Recently, the Folha de São Paulo published a ranking of states and municipalities that uses information consulted in Siconfi: http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/remf/; • Citizens in general.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In order to achieve harmonization of internal accounting practices with international standards of public accounting and fiscal statistics, STN realized that, in addition to reliable and detailed information, Brazil also lacked standardized information. Therefore, the automation of standardized accounting and fiscal information flow became essential. Thus, in 2007, the Technical Group for Standardization of Accounting Procedures (GTCON) was created, responsible for the analysis and elaboration of diagnoses and studies aiming at the minimum standardization of concepts and accounting practices, chart of accounts and budget classification of public revenues and expenditures of the Union, States, Federal District and Municipalities. Also in 2007, the Technical Group for Standardization of Reports (GTREL) was created, responsible for the analysis and elaboration of diagnostics and studies aiming at the standardization of reports and statements for all the Federation Units. Beginning in 2010, aware of the historical context favorable to the modernization of accounting practices, STN started to develop a system that would bring significant gains in efficiency and had sufficient competencies to provoke the strengthening of social control and transparency. With the beginning of the development of the Siconfi project, in 2011 the Technical Group for Accounting and Fiscal Information Systems (GTSIS) was created, with the attribution of, among others, to analyze and elaborate diagnoses and studies aiming at the harmonization of rules and functionalities of accounting and fiscal systems for all the Federation Units. All the above technical groups are composed of actors from different public and civil entities, who seek to bring their contributions to the process of standardizing accounting and fiscal information. In the following years, Siconfi was developed by the Federal Data Processing Service (Serpro) using state-of-the-art XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) technology to provide the desired automation of receiving qualified and reliable information. In addition to the process in effect at the time, the development of Siconfi was based on the recommendations emanated by the above technical groups. Finally, on April 1, 2014, the first version of the system comes into operation, contemplating the receiving of the Annual Accounts Declaration - DCA, former Annual Balance Sheet, of all entities of the Federation. In January 2015, the second version of the system is put into production, expanding the receiving of reports, including Budget Execution Summary Report (RREO) and Fiscal Management Report (RGF), also related to all entities of the Federation. On February 27, 2015, the Accounting Data Collection System (SISTN) was discontinued and, from that date, the entities of the Federation are required to approve their accounting, budgetary and fiscal information in Siconfi. All statements sent to the old SISTN were imported into Siconfi in PDF format.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Siconfi is the result of a partnership between the National Treasury Secretariat - STN and the Federal Data Processing Service – Serpro, which was responsible for the development activities, working together with the STN in the planning, management, testing and validation of the functionalities. In the process of business conceptual construction, STN had the contribution of the members of the following technical groups: • Technical Group for Standardization of Accounting Procedures – GTCON • Technical Group for Standardization of Reports – GTREL • Technical Group for Accounting and Fiscal Information Systems – GTSIS The technical groups are composed of professionals from various institutions, including court of accounts, financial secretaries, civil entities, computer professionals, auditors, accountants etc. of all Federation units. In addition, the Courts of Accounts of three states (Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul) signed a Technical Cooperation Agreement and contributed significantly to the provision of databases for testing, discussion and conceptual construction.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Siconfi has enhanced the experience of information providers and added value to the user’s work by delivering a high level of technical quality. Previous system had only one form of submission, by filling out a web form and handing out the supporting documents on paper. At Siconfi, it takes just a few hours to make and certify its statements (digitally signed) to comply with the legal obligation, saving time and resources in the process, which demonstrates the improvement of the public services offered. Siconfi entered full operation in 2015. In its first year, it received more than 36,000 reports from all entities of the Federation, representing a 99% increase compared to 2014. By 2016, more than 50,000 reports were received, surpassing 2015 and becoming an unprecedented result for STN. Another outstanding result is the increase in the quality of information received and made available to society. Siconfi reflects the various discussions in the Federation, mainly within the technical groups and other discussion forums, inserting validations that contribute to the correct information and data analysis. Finally, a great contribution was made to the increase of transparency in the public sector. Siconfi is a source of information for several interested audiences and contributes significantly to the citizen's ability to carry out social control. In 2016 alone, Siconfi was accessed more than 360,000 times, including by users from the United States, Russia, Portugal, Great Britain, Spain, Argentina and France, with more than 25,000 downloads.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The biggest challenge in achieving the system was the validation of the new procedures without assistance of any municipality or state. In order to validate the procedures, the project management team (STN and Serpro) developed a validation and approval strategy of the product using only internal resources. It should be noted that the validation scenarios were developed considering all the federative entities, as well as their expected user profiles. The unprecedented adoption of XBRL technology was a challenge for the entire project team. Both the development team and the business team needed to build the knowledge needed to make the most of the benefits of adopting XBRL technology. To this end, study groups and international consultants were hired, who presented the basic concepts of technology and followed the development of the system, suggesting alternatives and correcting imperfections. The complex management of the various employees of the National Treasury, of Serpro, of the technical groups and of the supplier companies involved. In order to face the complexity of development, the "agile software development" model was adopted, in which the success of the project reflect the result of collaborative work, which relied on professional commitment of multidisciplinary teams from various sectors of the institutions involved. The support of Siconfi, through the voluntary adoption of the system by national entities and the expansion of its use throughout the national territory. The STN sought to make possible partnership and technical cooperation agreements with courts of accounts, as well as other governing institutions. The National Treasury came into direct contact with hundreds of municipalities, presenting the system, solving doubts and assisting small municipalities in the first steps with the system. In addition, institutional support was decisive and ratified by the inclusion of the Siconfi project as a strategic project within the STN and the Ministry of Finance.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
After 3 years of its implementation, citizens today have three times more information about their counties and states, which allows for much greater social control. Citizens can now charge more transparency of their representatives, monitoring the execution of public spending. Users work exclusively on electronic media, no longer need to use paper documents, or even go to bank branches. Siconfi has made it possible to save time for all public institutions, which now have a friendly environment where information is entered and automatically validated. The most technologically developed federation units can send their reports through XBRL instances, without the need to enter the data, which means a great saving of human resources and a reduction in the occurrence of failures. Several public and civil institutions are discovering the great amount of information and analysis that can be extracted from Siconfi, and the result of this is the increase of studies and reports quoting Siconfi like source of their information.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The main purpose of Siconfi is to centralize electronic records of accounting, budgetary, financial, fiscal, economic, control, credit operations and public finance statistics of the Federation entities, contributing to meeting the requirements of the Fiscal Responsibility Law - LRF, in addition to promoting integration with other organizations. The use of digital certificate and automatic data validation has made reports more reliable and comprehensive, exposing poor public managers, and allowing control organizations to compare the performance of similar sized institutions. If Siconfi still does not reduce corruption, it is certainly an important tool to be used by professionals who work in the fight against corruption and misuse of public resources. Through their numerous public consultations, interested parties can develop the most varied analyzes and data checks.

 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)
Not applicable

Contact Information

Institution Name:   National Treasury Secretariat
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Leonardo Nascimento
Title:   Coordinator of Accounting Standards Applied to the  
Telephone/ Fax:   +55(61)3412-4905
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   cconf.df.stn@tesouro.gov.br  
Address:   Esplanada dos Ministérios, bloco P, Edifício Anexo
Postal Code:   70048900
City:   Brasília
State/Province:   DF
Country:  

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