“Brazil Transparency Scale” Survey

The methodology of the “Brazil Transparency Scale” Survey consists of a checklist on 17 categories that cover all relevant aspects of the access to information regulation at the local level, the existence and functionality of the electronic Citizen Information Service (passive transparency), as well as the information disclosure of public funds, revenue, expenditure, public bidding, etc. (active transparency). The final evaluation score ranged from zero to ten.

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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). After 7 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.
Published by the Brazilian Federal Government, through the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), 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 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”.

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. Regarding the Active Transparency, the survey evaluated aspects such as “Revenue”, “Expenditure”, “Civil servants salaries”, “Travel and subsistence expenses”, 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. We understand that cultural changes are not easy, but they are necessary, especially in this context.

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