Monitoring of the Implementation of the Access to Information Act in the Federal Executive Branch
With the maturing of the Transparency Policy in the Brazilian Federal Executive Branch, there was a need to broaden the assessment of the implementation of the Access to Information Act. The innovation here lies in the methodology adopted, which was previously quantitative and is now also qualitative, allowing an improvement in the answers provided to citizens and the extension of the transparency culture, favoring all stakeholders: public bodies under assessment, citizens and the Government.
The innovation of this case is found in how the assessment of the implementation of the Access to Information Act (LAI) is carried out: not only are formal aspects and quantitative procedures assessed, a qualitative assessment is conducted as well. The innovation lies in the extension and broadening of the process, improving the implementation and compliance with the Access to Information Act and promoting a change of a culture of secrecy into one of transparency. The aim is to reduce the number of omissions, bringing it as close as possible to zero, while increasing the quality of responses.
The assessment of the compliance with the Access to Information Act used to be quantitative, since only statistic data were raised based on the data collected through the Electronic System for the Citizen Information Service (e-SIC). With the maturing of the Transparency Policy in the Brazilian Federal Executive Branch, there was a need to broaden the assessment of the Access to Information Act implementation, which led to the creation of specific and standardized procedures for a qualitative assessment of the compliance with the following requirements:
1. Passive Transparency - detailed assessment through the analysis of a sample of answers to request of information registered on the e-SIC;
2. Active Transparency - assessment of the fulfillment of active transparency obligations by federal public bodies;
3. Open Data - assessment of the compliance with the Open Data Policy, set forth by Decree n. 8777/2016.
That assessment was part of the Commitment 3 of 3rd National Action Plan in the scope of OGP, which reads "Enhance mechanisms in order to assure more promptness and answer effectiveness to information requests, and the proper disclosure of the classified document list".
With the undertaking of a commitment that prioritizes the effective functioning of the public machine, entities and bodies being assessed are directly benefited from this innovation. Citizens and the Brazilian State are favored, as well. Finally, aiming at ensuring this benefit, improvements on the assessment on the compliance with the Access to Information Act flow are implemented as needed.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
This project is innovative because of the methodology adopted, which involves not only a legal perspective and quantitative procedures, but also qualitative approach. In addition, the communication exchange between the CGU and the bodies being assessed is based on a partnership between the body being assessed and the assessor body, since the latter does not only identify flaws, but seeks to propose solutions for problems found.
Collaborations & Partnerships
The way the assessment of the compliance with Access to Information Act is led meets Organized Civil Society's wish to enhance mechanisms for ensuring more expediency and quality of answers to information requests as well as proper disclosure of declassified documents. It also provides support to public bodies in being compliant with the Act, based on the partnership that is set between the body being assessed and the assessor body.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Citizens are the main stakeholders. Besides gaining more quality in responses to information requests, they also benefit from the assessment on the compliance with the Act, which is disclosed on active transparency on http://www.acessoainformacao.gov.br/lai-para-sic/sic-apoio-orientacoes/politica-monitoramento/avaliacao-do-atendimento-a-lai.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The assessments of compliance with the Act result in reports describing the main findings and guidelines of the CGU on agencies and entities of the Federal Executive Branch. Then a meeting is scheduled with the assessed body where the results collected in a report are presented. The assessed body takes care of the adequacy of each orientation made by the CGU, and sends a formal response within a period of 30 days. After this period, the CGU verifies if there was progress in the topics considered unsatisfactory. Finally, the results obtained are published.
Challenges and Failures
The main challenge is managing cultural differences between those involved in the Access to Information Act implementation process. On one side is the CGU, as the monitoring authority, on the other an independent body that has its own characteristics, infrastructure and unique organization. There are additional challenges in overcoming the culture of secrecy and in making the public bodies increasingly transparent.
Conditions for Success
The success of this initiative requires establishing a policy of support for transparency instituted by the leadership of the organization. This policy comprises clear rules and values by establishing a continuous, regular and periodic routine.
Only the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU) has the legal attribution of monitoring the implementation of the Access to Information Act by the bodies and entities of the Federal Executive Branch, so other bodies are not able to replicate this innovation in this sphere of government; however, it is possible that other powers and spheres of government (legislative, judiciary, states, Federal District and Municipalities) as well as in the international scope may use it.
The partnership established between the assessed body and assessor body is one of the great highlights of this initiative. The presentation of flaws, accompanied by proposals for solutions to enhance the compliance with the Access to Information Act makes the initiative increasingly successful.