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Portugal

Access to Administrative and Environmental Information (PT0007)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Portugal Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: National Network for Open Administration

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

E-Government, Environment and Climate, Open Data, Public Service Delivery, Records Management, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Portugal Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

COMMITMENT #7: IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING OF THE REGIME OF ACCESS TO ADMINISTRATIVE AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION
Commitment Start and End Date: January 2019 – December 2020
Lead implementing agency/actor National Network for Open Administration
Commitment description
What is the public problem that the commitment will address? Access and re-use of administrative data is a challenge and opportunity for all social, economic and political actors. In Portugal, Law 26/2016, of August 22, regulates access to administrative information. The bases of a structured and properly regulated offer are therefore established. Its operationalization is the central problem. The entities that produce administrative and environmental information do not yet implement the necessary measures to strengthen the supply of this information. An important volume of social, economic, environmental and civic relevant information is subtracted from the public domain.
What is the commitment? The program for the implementation and monitoring of the regime for access to administrative information intends to contribute to the application of legislation already in force and also to disseminate good practices of the public sector in this area.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem? The commitment promotes the strengthening of the regime of access to administrative and environmental information and will increase the volume of data supply.
Regarding the expected results, and in the absence of previous diagnostic studies or benchmarks, it is expected that the regime of access to administrative and environmental information will undergo a measurable reinforcement.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values? The commitment primarily fits in the Transparency axe, as it seeks to increase the volume and quality of the administrative and environmental information available and to solve the problem of lack of access to information on the supply side. In addition, it promotes proactive transparency through the strengthening of the regime of access to information already regulated.
Additional information
Milestone Activity with a verifiable deliverable Start Date: End Date:
Appointment and identification of employee
responsible for access to administrative and environmental information on the institutional website of all eligible public entities or, alternatively, publication of an aggregated list, in machine-readable form and updated quarterly on the Dados.gov web portal.
January 2019 January 2020
Publication, in the Dados.gov portal, of a preliminary list with the typologies of information and data produced and managed by each eligible public entity. January 2019 January 2020
Provision of legally available metadata associated to all documents made public (issuer, date of application, date of availability and identification of the person responsible for the good continuation of the request for access). January 2019 January 2020
Provision of information on policies and practices of access to information, including the identification of public entities and agents with good practices in the domain of access to information and the average time to make available the requested information.
This information should be made available in an accessible and plain language, for example through infographics or interactive displays. January 2019 January 2020
Contact information
Name of responsible person from implementing agency CADA - Rui Ribeiro
AMA – Claúdia Barroso and Tiago Mendonça
Title, Department CADA – Secretary
AMA – Head of the International Relations Unit / Senior International Relations Officer
Email and Phone CADA – geral@cada.pt | 21 391 35 70
AMA – eri@ama.pt | 21 721 55 45

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Implementation and monitoring of the regime of access to administrative and environmental information

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan: [44]

“Access and re-use of administrative data is a challenge and opportunity for all social, economic and political actors. In Portugal, Law 26/2016, of August 22, regulates access to administrative information. The bases of a structured and properly regulated offer are therefore established. Its operationalization is the central problem. The entities that produce administrative and environmental information do not yet implement the necessary measures to strengthen the supply of this information. An important volume of social, economic, environmental and civic relevant information is subtracted from the public domain.

The program for the implementation and monitoring of the regime for access to administrative information intends to contribute to the application of legislation already in force and also to disseminate good practices of the public sector in this area.

The commitment promotes the strengthening of the regime of access to administrative and environmental information and will increase the volume of data supply. Regarding the expected results, and in the absence of previous diagnostic studies or benchmarks, it is expected that the regime of access to administrative and environmental information will undergo a measurable reinforcement.”

Milestones:

7.1. Appointment and identification of employee responsible for access to administrative and environmental information on the institutional website of all eligible public entities or, alternatively, publication of an aggregated list, in machine-readable form and updated quarterly on the Dados.gov web portal.

7.2. Publication, in the Dados.gov portal, of a preliminary list with the typologies of information and data produced and managed by each eligible public entity.

7.3. Provision of legally available metadata associated to all documents made public (issuer, date of application, date of availability and identification of the person responsible for the good continuation of the request for access).

7.4. Provision of information on policies and practices of access to information, including the identification of public entities and agents with good practices in the domain of access to information and the average time to make available the requested information. This information should be made available in an accessible and plain language, for example through infographics or interactive displays.

Start Date: January 2019

End Date: January 2020

Context and Objectives

In 2016, Portugal passed into law a directive from the EU that regulates access to administrative information. [45] This law guarantees citizens’ right to access any personal information collected by public institutions. To facilitate this process, all eligible public entities are required to appoint an employee responsible for access to information (RAI). Additionally, the law requires public entities to actively disclose public information compiled or produced by the organization, guaranteeing universal access. However, the law does not provide sanctions for public entities that fail to comply. [46]

The Committee of Access to Administrative Documents (CADA) is an independent administrative entity responsible for assessing compliance of public organizations with the law. In 2018, the committee processed 1,047 requests for opinions, either from citizens requesting access, or from public institutions enquiring about specific types of data. [47] According to CADA representatives, one third of complaints received from individual citizens regard access to health-related documents. [48]

So far, public entities in Portugal have not yet taken the necessary steps to be able to actively provide the necessary information and comply with the law. A major challenge in the characterization of this problem, as recognized by CADA, is that the actual magnitude of the problem is not graspable. CADA only collects information from cases where one of the parts involved requests an opinion from CADA. Hence, neither the number of requests fulfilled, nor the total number of requests rejected are known. Additionally, for a considerable number of public entities, it is still not clear who is the person responsible for providing access to data. [49] This demand has progressively led hospitals and other health units to establish an RAI as required by law. However, according to CADA, several other public entities and particularly local governments have still not appointed an RAI. [50]

This commitment aims to promote compliance with the EU law of access to administrative and environmental data, and to increase the volume of data supplied by public institutions. To do so, the commitment proposes using the government open data platform – Dados.gov – to aggregate some of the data required by the law, such as RAI information of all eligible entities, and to produce a guide of best practices for compliance with the law. The commitment emphasizes open and transparent data access and therefore supports the OGP value of access to information.

The IRM researcher considers this commitment as verifiable. The milestones are concrete, although excessively ambitious given the mechanisms proposed to achieve these goals. Interviewed AMA representatives recognized that completion of this initiative is unlikely during the current action plan. [51] In turn, CADA noted that the active provision of data produced and managed by each institution remains contingent on the goodwill of each entity and will require “a change of mentality.” [52] The commitment does not foresee any mechanisms to enforce or even incentivize compliance with the law, besides the publication of a manual of good practices. One example of such a mechanism, according to MSF members, would be making CADA decisions binding. [53] For this reason, although the stated goals of the initiative are relevant and ambitious, it is not clear how the commitment is expected to change government practices over the long term. The potential impact is therefore minor.

Next steps

On the basis of the analysis above, the IRM researcher recommends the following steps:

  • Information on each institution’s RAI could be included in the updated SIOE platform that has been developed as part of Commitment 5. This coordination could either be done during the current action plan or be prioritized in the following plan.
  • The IRM researcher believes this commitment could be prioritized in a future action plan. However, to be more effective it should focus on specific mechanisms to increase compliance with the law. An example of an ambitious commitment would be to promote the required regulatory changes to make CADA opinions binding.
  • Future efforts to promote compliance with this law should start by focusing on producing accurate estimates of the amount of non-compliant institutions.
[45] Law no. 26/2016, August 22, which transposes Directives 2003/4/CE, January 28, and 2003/98/CE, November 17, from the European Parliament and European Council.
[46] Cláudia Barroso and Tiago Mendonça, Administrative Modernization Agency, 22 April 2019.
[48] Rui Ribeiro, Commission of Access to Administrative Documents, 18 April 2019.
[49] Ibid; Karina Carvalho, Transparency and Integrity, 17 April 2019.
[50] Rui Ribeiro, Commission of Access to Administrative Documents, 18 April 2019.
[51] Cláudia Barroso and Tiago Mendonça, Administrative Modernization Agency, 22 April 2019.
[52] Rui Ribeiro, Commission of Access to Administrative Documents, 18 April 2019.
[53] Rui Ribeiro, Commission of Access to Administrative Documents, 18 April 2019; Cláudia Barroso and Tiago Mendonça, Administrative Modernization Agency, 22 April 2019; Karina Carvalho, Transparency and Integrity, 17 April 2019.