Increase the Use of Means of Communication by São Paulo City Hall to Spread Open Government Actions in Newspapers, TV Channel, Buses, Public Municipal Venues, Alternative Media, Dialoguing with the Legislative Branch, in Order for These Means to Become Strategic and Permanent Ways of Communication. (SAO0003)
Action Plan: São Paulo, Brazil Action Plan
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: São Paulo Aberta
Support Institution(s): Municipal Secretariat of Government and Municipal Secretariat of Communication; São Paulo City Council and the Shared Management Forum
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Subnational
Issue to be Addressed: Communication on the initiatives of open government do not reach the entire population of São Paulo. Primary Objective: Expand, diversify and ensure continuity in the dissemination of open government initiatives promoted by São Paulo City Hall. Short Description: Diversify the means of communication used by São Paulo City Hall (newspapers, TV channel, buses, public municipal venues, alternative media) as a strategy to increase and perpetuate outreach capacity of open government initiatives. OGP Challenge: The improvement in the outreach of open government initiatives will ensure access to information to a greater audience and therefore, will encourage them to participate in Open Government initiatives.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
3. Communication: Increase governmental communication on open government actions
Increase the use of means of communication by São Paulo City Hall to spread open government actions in newspapers, TV channel, buses, public municipal venues, alternative media, dialoguing with the Legislative Branch, in order for these means to become strategic and permanent ways of communication.
1. Develop a communication plan to expand and diversify outreach efforts of open government initiatives so that it reaches more civil servants and citizens, starting from a previous analysis of the means currently in use.
2. Integrate outreach actions on open government with the institutional general communication strategy of São Paulo City Hall, so that municipal administration incorporates open government values.
3. Execute this communication plan on Open Government actions.
Overall Objective & Relevance
This commitment addresses citizens' lack of awareness and knowledge on São Paulo City Hall open government actions and policies. The objective, as stated in the action plan, aims to expand, diversify, and ensure continuity in the dissemination of open government actions promoted by the São Paulo municipal government. Eduardo Barboza, public servant at the São Paulo Aberta Initiative, opening speech, Open Dialogue with the Participative Council, Jabaquara, 11 July 2017. To address this communication and outreach challenge, the government has committed to developing and implementing a communication plan on São Paulo's open government initiatives. In this effort, it will use a diverse set of communication tools, including online platforms, billboards, and newspapers. These tools, conceived to enhance communication, could improve the general understanding of government activities. However, it is unclear what information is to be distributed and whether it pertains to government-held information, as opposed to information on general government activities that could be found through other means. Although the purpose of this commitment is laudable, the IRM researcher considers it not relevant to the values of open government as defined in the IRM Procedures Manual. See IRM Procedures Manual, p. 44, https://opengovpartnership.org/documents/irm-procedures-manual.
Specificity and Potential Impact
This commitment was broadly framed. Its specificity is low. It describes activities that can be construed as verifiable but requires some interpretation by the reader to identify measurable deliverables. For example, it is not sufficiently precise on information in the communication plan, vehicles and/or mediums to be prioritized, and target audiences for this outreach effort, if there are any. If fully implemented as written, this commitment would have a minor impact. It constitutes an incremental but positive step to improve the lack of awareness and knowledge on open government initiatives.
This commitment had a limited implementation. The intended communication plan took several months to be finalized by the government. The government limited the modest final product to a few communication outlets. The plan also lacked an underlying strategic vision. The electoral transition resulted in many delays and changes regarding this commitment. Those changes involved implementing partners within government and the expected activities (i.e., the communication plan itself) during implementation.
The São Paulo Aberta team led several attempts to re-engage the Secretariat of Communication to jointly agree on an open government communication plan. The plan would be 'integrated into the institutional general communication strategy of São Paulo City Hall' (as defined in the second milestone). However, this harmonization did not happen. With little external support from the original implementation partner, the São Paulo Aberta team sought alternative partnerships. Within government, these efforts involved the Secretariat of Education. Efforts also involved Shared Management Forum (the Forum) members from civil society. Ana Dienstmann, responsible for communication at São Paulo Aberta, explained that due to those unforeseen challenges, in July 2017, São Paulo Aberta approached the Forum to discuss an alternative - and more modest - version of the plan. See 'Minutes of the XII Forum Meeting (13/07/2017),' to which the IRM researcher had access. The Forum agreed internally on a revised version of the communication plan. The Forum publicized the plan in late December 2017, with an implementation report, a proactive accountability and public justification exercise. Prefeitura de São Paulo, RelaÃ§Ãµes Internacionais, 'Plano de ComunicaÃ§ão de Governo Aberto,' 20 December 2017, http://www.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/cidade/secretarias/relacoes_internacionais/noticias/?p=247324. For the full document, see '#3_Communication Plan_SP Aberta' in the 'São Paulo_ IRM Repository of Evidences' folder, available at http://bit.ly/2v0fBYy. According to the document, three areas were prioritized: (i) website, (ii) communication in the territory, and (iii) social media.
Throughout the year, the government implemented this alternative communication strategy. It focused on immediate communication needs regarding the remaining commitments, particularly Commitments 1 and 2 (Participation and Training, respectively). Interview with Renata Galf from TransparÃªncia Brasil (14 November 2017), and interview with Haydee Svab from TransparÃªncia Hacker (23 November 2017). It also concentrated on re-establishing a website for São Paulo Aberta, the previous one having been discontinued after the end of the previous municipal administration. São Paulo Aberta's focused on the website because the Municipal Secretariat for International Relations had no specific budget allocated to this commitment. Thus, the secretariat could not, for instance, pay for television time (as implied in the commitment text) for communicating open government. Interview with Ana Dienstmann (7 August 2017).
Since the first three months, the government envisioned the temporary solution of establishing a WordPress portal for open government initiatives. This portal would be placed under existing Secretariat of Education virtual platforms (for instance in the Pátio Digital platform), while the government negotiated with external providers to develop a new portal. In September 2017, São Paulo Aberta communicated to Forum members that the new website was ready and would be open to the public upon final approval of the Secretary of Education. See 'Minutes of the XIV Forum Meeting (29/09/17)' and 'Minutes of the XII Forum Meeting (13/07/2017),' to which the IRM researcher had access. However, pending approval lingered throughout the implementation period. The São Paulo Aberta communication plan, made public in December 2017, sets February 2018 as the new deadline for the website to be fully functional. An update from São Paulo Aberta, in May 2018, details that 'the website underwent a budget review, no longer being necessary, for contractual reasons, to develop it together with Prodam (Information and Communication Technology Company of the Municipality of São Paulo), since the guidelines for contracting technology services had changed and it would be possible to achieve a less-costly solution, which is currently underway'. Without that virtual space, governmental communication efforts on the OGP plan were fragmented, taking place through a series of disconnected online platforms. The open government information temporarily displayed in the official City Hall online Transparency Portal (Portal da TransparÃªncia) was scarce and not regularly updated. For example, only three out of the five OGP commitments were present on the portal, numbers 1, 2, and 4. They mostly included a news format, invitations to meetings, or communications on the launch of the Open INFO Network. But the portal does not serve as an institutional repository of comprehensive information. See http://transparencia.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/Paginas/Governo-Aberto.aspx and http://transparencia.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/Paginas/Historico-de-Noticias.aspx. The government created a smaller website with a limited scope for the Open Government Agents Program. The Secretary of Education's virtual space also hosted this website, which functioned until October 2017.
Consequently, overall OGP dissemination relied mostly on alternative online communication tools (email and listservs) and social media, particularly São Paulo Aberta's Facebook page. For the São Paulo Aberta Facebook page, see https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1469765476577024&ref=br_rs. The Facebook page currently stands as the most complete information repository of the pilot action plan outputs. Despite being an interactive tool for the government to engage with citizens, the Facebook page does not fulfill the need for a comprehensive and organized repository and a project tracker for OGP-related actions and outputs.
Forum members acknowledged that circumventing those structural challenges would have required significant additional efforts. Such efforts were mostly of a political nature and would have to be led by those in higher positions. These efforts seemed beyond the reach of the few technical civil servants at São Paulo Aberta. Forum civil society organization (CSO) representatives also admit they had little resources or energy to broker the situation. The Forum had assigned few civil society representatives to assist the government in developing the plan. These representatives were minorly engaged in implementation, creating the need for other - already overtaxed - CSOs to replace them later in the year. Amid this complicated scenario, stakeholders prioritized urgent demands from other commitments. According to one civil society representative from the Forum: 'Communication matters. In the world we live in, no information means it does not exist. An initiative, like OGP, can also die of invisibility.' Interview with Joara Marchezini and Caroline Burle from RETPS (21 November 2017), interview with Renata Galf from TransparÃªncia Brasil (14 November 2017), and interview with Haydee Svab from TransparÃªncia Hacker (23 November 2017).
Early results: did it open government?
Did not change
The low specificity and lack of clearly defined outcomes of Commitment 3 resulted in a more narrow and instrumental interpretation of how to communicate open government during implementation. This was further accentuated by multiple implementation challenges encountered by the São Paulo Aberta team.
The dissemination and outreach occurring on the remaining commitments, and the continuous individual efforts from civil servants within São Paulo Aberta, remain centrally important. However, the intended communication activities were delayed and their implementation limited.
Contrasting with the commitment language, the informal plan ultimately carried out informed targeted citizens involved in the OGP process about events and activities for commitment implementation. It relied on very similar means and outlets used in the past. The Secretariat of Communication did not incorporate the plan. Hence, the commitment fell short of communicating open government to citizens at large and reaching out beyond the usual suspects already connected to São Paulo Aberta's network, particularly through social media. The modest version of the communication plan struggled to secure a proper website for gathering citizen-friendly information on open government. It also did little to leverage the interactive potential of new communication tools for mobilization purposes. Without a proper public online platform and repository, information on open government remains scattered and of little use for building and sustaining citizen mobilization and engagement.
More encouraging initial results exist for the commitment's aim to create a 'dialogue with the Legislative power' to boost those outreach efforts. The IRM researcher notes that the government built some important alliances with other governmental bodies, including the legislative power, for the joint Open Government Agents Program workshops (Commitment 2: Training). Those alliances unequivocally had a dissemination and outreach potential. Those open government, citizen-led trainings - which are, by nature, more decentralized and less dependent on virtual outlets - do partially contribute to this intended dissemination effort. However, they do not constitute a coherent governmental communication strategy on open government. Overall, communication on open government during this first pilot year was mostly informative and did not reach its aimed sensitizing and mobilizing potential.
To move this commitment's intended reforms forward, the following recommendations should be considered by the São Paulo government:
1. Make sure City Hall has a proper online repository of its open-government-related initiatives. The repository should include those initiatives carried out as part of OGP. It should also function both as a site of institutional memory, and a mobilization tool to secure and sustain government and civil society engagement in the future.
2. Host an Inter-Secretarial Committee on Open Government meeting to agree on a modest and cross-sectorial plan. The plan should cover how to disseminate open government initiatives. It should also use available communication outlets and communication human resources within relevant secretariats, in addition to those established by São Paulo Aberta.
3. Proactively engage civil society, citizen journalists, and technology groups (for instance, those identified in Commitment 5 as innovation actors). Engage them to find collaborative solutions to build and sustain a live platform for open government in the city. These solutions can include governmental policies and programs, those listed as part of the OGP action plan, and citizen-led initiatives. OGP itself can be a valuable hub and a complementary source for innovative collaborations.
Sao Paulo, Brazil's Commitments
SAO0006, 2018, E-Government
Decentralization and Local Development
SAO0007, 2018, Environment and Climate
Information System, Participatory Communication and Transparency
SAO0008, 2018, Capacity Building
SAO0009, 2018, E-Government
Fight Against Corruption
SAO0010, 2018, E-Government
Increase the Power of Intervention of the Municipal Participative Councils in Each Subprefecture (City District), Creating Deliberative Open Sessions to Receive Proposals and Demands from the Citizens.
SAO0001, 2017, E-Government
Expand the Training Program “Open Government Agents”, Becoming a Permanent Education and Citizenship Program, Ensuring Territorial Mobilization and Ramification in Order to Reach the Largest Number People in São Paulo.
SAO0002, 2017, Capacity Building
Increase the Use of Means of Communication by São Paulo City Hall to Spread Open Government Actions in Newspapers, TV Channel, Buses, Public Municipal Venues, Alternative Media, Dialoguing with the Legislative Branch, in Order for These Means to Become Strategic and Permanent Ways of Communication.
SAO0003, 2017, Capacity Building
Create a Network of Civil Servants Involving All City Hall Secretariats, Entities and Public Venues, Dialoguing with Ciga (The Intersecretarial Committee on Open Government) and São Paulo Aberta (Open São Paulo Initiative).
SAO0004, 2017, Capacity Building
Improve the Innovation Technology Laboratory (Labprodam), Turning the Lab More Open, Mapping Groups Already Working on Free Technology, Such as Youth Groups, Startups and Collectives to Create Projects Similar to São Paulo’S Urban Mobility Laboratory (Mobilab).
SAO0005, 2017, Capacity Building