Brazil Transparency Scale (EBT)
Ministry of Transparency, Oversight and Comptroller General

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
As of May 16 2012, Law 12,527/2011 (Brazil’s Access to Information Law) entered into force. With the law in place, any person may have access to documents and information kept by public bodies, within all branches of power (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary and Public Prosecutor’s Office) and in all government levels (Federal, States, Municipalities and the Federal District). All public organs shall provide the requested data within 20 days, which can be extended for additional 10 days, with no need for the requesting party to justify their claim. That means that all information either produced or stored by the government, which is not regarded as classified and is therefore of public nature, shall be made available for all citizens. The Access to Information Law is the first step of a wider revolution that is taking place in the relationship established between the society and the public sector. It is a critical tool to consolidate country’s democracy, as the new law regulates the constitutional principle that states that the citizen is the true owner of public information, whilst the government is only its depositary body. The Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), which has the authority to monitor the implementation of the Access to Information Law within the Federal Executive Branch, has built capacity of approximately 700 public servants working in the Citizen Information Service (SIC) offices located at each government body. Additionally, it has developed an electronic system that registers information access requests entries and replies, besides providing a standard request form. The system, which is called e-SIC, is of critical relevance to public managers, as it helps them manage the incoming requests and the time it takes for requests to be properly answered. The principle that establishes that publicity and transparency shall rule information management and secrecy is an exception to such rule is one of the most relevant provisions established in the law. Besides regulating access to information requests and the time government bodies have to reply to such requests, the Access to Information Law also stipulates that the government shall promote the proactive dissemination of information, regardless of the submission of requests, and make use of the internet to have it fully disclosed. With regard to the Federal Government, all ministries keep an “Access to Information” webpage in their respective websites, which can be accessed by clicking on a standardized seal with the letter “i”. These webpages comprise data on the government body’s responsibilities; organizational structure; authorities; addresses and telephone numbers; most relevant programs and actions; budget and expenditures; bidding and contracts; and a link to e-SIC system. After 5 years of enforcement, the biggest problem are the municipalities. Policy makers with a high impact on society – like public planning, urban mobility, primary health care, and basic education – Brazilian cities have the very lowest levels of transparency and accountability, which may help to explain their failure to produce substantial public policies.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Published by the Brazilian Federal Government, through the Office of the Comptroller General, the index “Brazil Transparency Scale” was designed to analyze the compliance with the law in municipalities with more than 50 thousand inhabitants in all 27 Brazilian states. The methodology consists of a “checklist” of 12 categories that cover the aspects of the access to information regulation at the local level and the existence and functionality of the electronic Citizen Information Service (e-SIC), or “passive transparency”. The local regulation was weighted at 25% and 75% for passive transparency. The final evaluation score ranged from zero to ten. The methodology applied by the Brazilian federal government is concerned to improve the transparency and access to information in states and municipalities by means of a positive “competition”. An overview of the study can be found on this page: http://www.cgu.gov.br/assuntos/transparencia-publica/escala-brasil-transparente

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Despite the legal and institutional actions to promote transparency, government entities face serious difficulties to comply with the law. Thus, the CGU developed a methodology named Brazil Transparency Scale (EBT) to quantify public transparency in states and municipalities, as well as the Federal District. The EBT methodology evaluated the government entities based on points related to Access to Information Law Regulation (adequacy of the law to the local context) and Passive Transparency, including elements such as “Exposure of legislation on the rated site”, “Regulation of Citizen Information Service”, “Existence of Internet service”, “Existence of local regulation”, etc. The survey’s first round reported that 63% of the municipalities scored a grade of zero; and 22,6% a grade of one. Surprisingly, more than 85% of the cities that were analyzed received a score of zero or one. On the other side, only seven cities received a score of 9 or 10 (including two state capitals: Sao Paulo with a 10 and Curitiba with a 9.3) and only 20 municipalities had scores between 8 and 9. At the state level, two states received a score of zero (Amapa and Rio Grande do Norte); five states presented very low scores, between 2 and 4 – one of which was Rio de Janeiro. On the other side of the spectrum, six states obtained a score above 9. The regulation of the Access to Information Law by municipalities is recommended by the Office of the Comptroller General, since the legislation approved locally adapts the general principles of the law to the subnational specificities. In other words, the federal legislation provides a general law that should be applied to any public entity of the federation. However, it is important and necessary that each entity (municipalities, states, Federal District and federal entities) regulates the law to make it suitable to its own reality. This aspect is so relevant in public transparency implementation process that own CGU evaluates through EBT how the law was regulated by the municipality. In the transparency implementation process in municipalities, it is important the adequacy of civil employees to the new reality, since the internal processes must be changed in order to clarify the actions of public administration. Civil employees who make up the management must understand that in the context of public transparency is required that the data be entered in the system in real time. They equally should be reliable and express the reality of management in order to ensure their availability and reliability. We understand that cultural changes are not easy, but they are necessary, especially in this context. The transparency implementation in public administration in Brazilian municipalities, although required by law, has not been effectively carried out by many of these public entities as shown by the Brazil Transparency Scale, developed to quantify the level of transparency implemented in municipalities, states and the Federal District. The main goals of the Brazil Transparency Scale are, as follows: - To support the adoption of measures to implement the Access to Information Law and other laws on transparency and to raise awareness and build capacity of civil servants to enable them to act as agents of change in the implementation of an access to information culture; - To disseminate the Access to Information Law and to encourage citizens to use it; - To promote the exchange of information and experience relevant to the development and the promotion of public transparency and access to information; - To support the implementation of the Access to Information Law and combine efforts to increase public transparency and the adoption of measures for open government in states and municipalities.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
This commitment promotes transparency and social control in the public administration, the use of new technologies, and innovative solutions to open governments. The innovations brought by Brazil Transparency Scale consist of three fundamental aspects: • Effective verification of compliance with the legal determination by the subnational entity evaluated • Use of the “mystery consumer” methodology by the Office of the Comptroller General • Use of a dissemination strategy that seeks to give society maximum knowledge of the methodology used and the results obtained When assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of Access to Information Law obligations for states and municipalities, the CGU decided to give maximum publicity to the results as a dissemination strategy. In this way, the results of Brazil Transparency Scale were announced in a press conference format. It was also established that the results would be available on the internet, in a simple, friendly language, using open data and several infographics elaborated to inform the society and especially the subnational entities assessed about the methodology and which items were evaluated. This dissemination strategy, including the worst outcomes, is widely used by human rights organizations and has shown positive results in advancing the issues raised.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The initiative was designed to serve primarily citizens and indirectly the managers of the three levels of government, academics, control bodies and civil society organizations engaged in actions to promote transparency, access to information and social control. We found it was essential to support subnational entities as early as possible, using the technical capacities developed by CGU. This verification was evident after an analysis of the situation of governmental transparency from the official websites of the subnational entities, focusing the access to information regulation in the 26 states, the Federal District and 254 municipalities with a population greater than one hundred thousand inhabitants. The results indicated that in 2014 the Access to Information Law was regulated in 19 states, in the Federal District and in 17 capitals. With regard to the 254 municipalities with more than one hundred thousand inhabitants, only 24% of them had the local normative on access to information. This scenario was decisive to conclude that the support to the states and municipalities in the implementation of the law would be an important action for the consolidation of a culture of access and transparency in the whole public sphere. For further information, please refer to the following link (in Portuguese): http://www.cgu.gov.br/assuntos/transparencia-publica/brasil-transparente/mapa-transparencia/mapa-da-transparencia-2 Thus, the CGU had a challenge: how to contribute to the fundamental right of access to information at the state and municipal levels, without additional budgetary resources to stimulate the implementation of the provisions of the law and taking into account the autonomy of the federated entities defined in Federal Constitution? From this scenario, the proposal to carry out an evaluation to verify the existence and effectiveness of mechanisms of access to information offered by states and municipalities arises. With this measure, we intended to give publicity to the managers who had already implemented mechanisms of access to information, as well as to those who did not have them yet.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In its first edition the Brazil Transparency Scale evaluated 465 municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants, 27 capital cities, 26 states, as well as the Federal District. According to the methodology, the evaluation of municipalities was made from three requests for access information of important social areas (health, education and social assistance) and one request for access information based on the regulation of the Access to Information Law in the municipality. The final report of EBT, in its first edition, was released on May 15 2015, in Brasília, to celebrate three years of validity of the law in the country. However, despite that, the results were pretty worrying: 310 evaluated municipalities (corresponding to 63% of the total) had no point. The situation is even more alarming when observing the average grade of municipalities: approximately 1.35 point in a scale to goes up to 10. The methodology was applied again, in its second edition and its final report was released on November 20 2015. In its second edition, the EBT evaluated 1,559 municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants, 27 capital cities, 26 states, as well as the Federal District. At this time, 789 evaluated municipalities (49,71%) had no score. Since the conception of the initiative until the dissemination of the results of its implementation, the following steps can be highlighted: Step 1: formation of a working group to create the methodology of transparency evaluation to be applied; Step 2: training the civil servants to apply the methodology; Step 3: definition of the sample group of subnational entities to be evaluated; Step 4: realization of the evaluation; Step 5: carry out the review of the results registered by the evaluators in the previous phase; Step 6: consolidation of results. In terms of human resources, we had 6 servants of the Coordination of Federal Cooperation and Social Control and 40 servers from the Corruption Prevention Centers (NAP) at the Regional Units of the CGU in states that worked directly in the design, test and application of the Brazil Transparency Scale. In addition to these resources, online assessment questionnaires were created using the Limey Survey system, available on the internet as a free software, without costs to the Administration. As demonstrated by the results, without additional budgetary resources it was possible to obtain notable advances in the policy of governmental transparency of several subnational entities. Thus, it is possible to consider that the initiative obtained a high degree of efficiency, in view of the allocated resources.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
In addition to the institutional mission of CGU, several studies have already pointed out that governmental transparency, besides being a democratic element and strengthening social control, allows for greater efficiency and accountability in the management of public resources. Thus, the progress of compliance with the determinations of the Access to Information Law, provides direct benefits both to the citizen and to the Federal Public Administration itself. It is acknowledged that involvement of other relevant actors in the assessment of local transparency and access to information is fundamental. In this way, we have envisaged an advancement of Brazil Transparency Scale to be implemented in 2017-2018, for evaluation of subnational entities that should include, in addition to the opinion of the citizens, the opinion of civil society organizations focused on the subject of transparency and public oversight.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
After the publication of the results of the first edition of the Brazil Transparency Scale (EBT, in its acronym in Portuguese), there was a significant increase in the number of subnational entities which started to comply with the evaluation criteria used in the established methodology and which are also obligations established by the Brazilian Access to Information Law. Among these criteria, there are the virtual handling of requests for access to information and the need for local regulations of the Law. In relation to the municipal entities, considering that the samples had different sizes in the two editions of the evaluation, it is possible to infer the improvement of the results from the analysis of the percentage by note of the municipal entities evaluated. In the first edition of the EBT, only 1.4% of the municipalities reached a grade between 9 and 10, while 63% scored zero. In the second edition of the EBT, 61 municipalities received grades between 9 and 10, equivalent to 3.8% of the municipalities evaluated, while 51.8% received a grade of zero. Obviously, at the municipal level, the data show that a great effort is still needed to reach state levels, but the results already show improvements. In addition to these quantitative results, the knowledge that the state / municipal managers have nowadays about the subject is remarkable, although the evaluation is still difficult to measure quantitatively. However, it is important to note that since the disclosure of the EBT results, several state control bodies (states’ Courts of Accounts, states’ prosecution services) started to request more speediness to subnational managers in implementing the access to information measures, which brought advances in the discussion of the subject within the Public Administration. According the United Nations Convention against Corruption, each State Party shall promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations in the prevention of and the fight against corruption and to raise public awareness regarding the existence, causes and gravity of and the threat posed by corruption. This participation should be strengthened by such measures as, inter alia, enhancing the transparency and ensuring that the public has effective access to information (art. 13.1). Besides, our initiative has established a direct link to the SDG 16: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The methodology of the Brazil Transparency Scale could be improved, since the mere existence of a local regulation doesn’t mean that the compliance with the law is adequate. Despite the fact that the methodology only examines the most basic obligations, the results are below expectations, especially at the municipal level. On the other hand, it is certain that the CGU is taking a step forward, principally by reinforcing the idea that it is fundamental to have an agency that is dedicated to the implementation of the Access to Information Law. Some of the difficulties could be mitigated or overcome through adopting the following measures: • The use of drawing of lots, through statistical sampling, eliminates doubts about political orientation. In addition, the voluntary request for evaluation with high adherence of municipalities (104 subnational entities requested to be evaluated) indicates the interest of the entities themselves in being evaluated, as positive notes can be transformed into political capital for well-evaluated managers. • In order to further refine the methodology and give the respondent further opportunities to demonstrate compliance with legal requirements, a second review stage was included in the second edition of EBT, in which another servant, from another CGU local office, reviews all aspects of the evaluation of subnational entities which received low grades. • In order to give more clarity to the reviewed manager about the type of adjustment or measures which needs to be adopted in order to meet transparency requirements in public management, we consider including, in the next round of the EBT, a document to be sent to the subnational body evaluated, with a clear explanation about the nature of the evaluation, which questions were not properly addressed by it, and which body or bodies to seek for further clarification.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Regarding the results and quantitative impacts, it is possible to point out changes which took place in the six-month period between the disclosure of the results of the two EBT editions. Therefore, the second edition of the EBT reflected evolution data, taking into consideration items covered by the first edition. Transparency in the dissemination of results is fundamental to the initiative and took place through several mechanisms. Thus, we created a specific page on the CGU website to explain the methodology of evaluation and release the statistical sampling plan, as well as the results in open data and other information on EBT. This page has information about all EBT editions carried out so far, with a view to enable citizens and public managers to monitor the progress or eventual setback of the subnational entity on its interest regarding government transparency. Such data can still be used by researchers, scholars and students. In this way, the data is available in its entirety and in open format. In addition, we sought to facilitate the understanding of information by the citizen through the use of simple and accessible language and the intense use of infographics, especially for the dissemination of information on the state and municipal situation.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Who shall comply with the Access to Information Law? In the federal level, public bodies and entities that form Direct and Indirect Administration (including state-owned companies, government-controlled companies and other entities controlled directly or indirectly by the Federal Government); not-for-profit private entities which receive public funds. Information requests do not need to be justified; the request shall be answered within 20 days, extendable for another 10 days, by means of express justification; information provision is free of charge; only document copies can be charged; the denial of access shall be justified, but appeals are admitted within the public body. The EBT enabled an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Citizens’ Electronic Information Services, made available by states and municipalities. It also reviewed local regulations of the Access to Information Law. Last but not least, it has also stimulated the use of the Access to Information law by the Brazilian citizens.

 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:   Ministry of Transparency, Oversight and Comptroller General
Institution Type:   Ministry  
Contact Person:   Adenísio Álvaro Oliveira de Souza
Title:   Mr  
Telephone/ Fax:   +55 61 2020 6516
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   adenisio.souza@cgu.gov.br  
Address:   Controladoria-Geral da União - SAS, Quadra 2, Bl. “E”, Sala 624
Postal Code:   70070-020
City:   Brasília
State/Province:   DF
Country:  

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