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São Paulo, Brazil

Information System, Participatory Communication and Transparency (SAO0008)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sao Paulo Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Municipal Comptroller General’s Office (CGM)

Support Institution(s): Municipal Secretariat of International Affairs (SMRI)24; Municipal Secretariat of Innovation and Technology (SMIT) Municipal Secretariat of Management (SG); Municipal Secretariat of Finance (SF); Municipal Secretariat of Subprefectures (SMSUB); Secretariat of Municipal Government (SGM); Municipal Court of Accounts (TCM). Rede pela Transparência e Participação Social (RETPS); Instituto Update;

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Capacity Building, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Local Commitments, Open Data, Public Participation, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sao Paulo Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Commitment no. 3: “Information System, Participatory Communication and Transparency”
Develop the integration of the Official Gazette, the Transparency Portal and the Budget and Finance System (SOF), with user-friendly language and interfaces, aiming at accessibility through digital and physical communication (website, clipping, messages, posts), through the “INFOAberta” Network focal points and organized civil society agents to disseminate these systems and train civil society and civil servants to use them.
Commitment start and end date: January/2019 - August/2020
Lead implementing agency/actor

Municipal Comptroller General’s Office (CGM)
Commitment description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The City of São Paulo has several portals and systems that provide public information, not always in an integrated way or in a clear and simple language. In addition, based on the demands made by the citizens throughout the co-creation process, it was identified that the population do not know all the uses of the mechanisms that allow access to information. Overall objective(s) and expected result(s)
By implementing this commitment, we seek to provide more qualified access to information for the population, in addition to training civil servants and citizens to increase the use of the portals and systems available.
How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
In seeking ways to improve portals of access to information, and providing training and better dissemination of existing portals and systems, the commitment will contribute to making public information available in a more integrated way, in a more accessible language, and to further exploring the potentialities of portals and systems mentioned by citizens and servers.
Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
The actions foreseen in this commitment seek to improve the quality of access to information by citizens, proving relevant for the strengthening of transparency and public integrity.
Additional Information
Milestone activity with a verifiable deliverable
Start date:
End date:
Improve the Transparency Portal, ensuring better usability.
January/2019
December/2019
Develop informative actions and materials for citizens regarding the use of the three portals and systems mentioned.
January/2019
June/2020
Training for “INFOAberta” Network in relation to the use of the three portals and systems mentioned.
January/2020
August/2020
Develop a feasibility study for the implementation of a platform for communication and social participation.
January/2019
December/2019
Encourage, through “Agentes de Governo Aberto” Program (“Open Government Agents”) public notice, the submission of projects related to access to information and use of the portals and systems mentioned.
January/2019
August/2020

Contact information
Name of responsible person from implementing agency
Gustavo Ungaro
Title, Department
Municipal Comptroller General, Municipal Comptroller General’s Office (CGM)

Email and phone

controladoriageral@prefeitura.sp.gov.br +55 11 3113-8234

Other actors involved

State actors involved

Municipal Secretariat of International Affairs (SMRI)24; Municipal Secretariat of Innovation and Technology (SMIT) Municipal Secretariat of Management (SG);
Municipal Secretariat of Finance (SF);
Municipal Secretariat of Subprefectures (SMSUB); Secretariat of Municipal Government (SGM); Municipal Court of Accounts (TCM).

Civil society actors involved
Rede pela Transparência e Participação Social (RETPS); Instituto Update; Fundação Escola de Comércio Álvares Penteado (FECAP); Movimento Cultural das Periferias (MCP).

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Information Systems, Participatory Communication and Transparency

Commitment text:

Develop the integration of the Official Gazette, the Transparency Portal and the Budget and Finance System (SOF), with user-friendly language and interfaces, aiming at accessibility through digital and physical communication (website, clipping, messages, posts), through the “INFOAberta” Network focal points and organized civil society agents to disseminate these systems and train civil society and civil servants to use them.

Milestones

3.1 Improve the Transparency Portal, ensuring better usability.

3.2 Develop informative actions and materials for citizens regarding the use of the three portals and systems mentioned.

3.3 Training for “INFOAberta” Network in relation to the use of the three portals and systems mentioned.

3.4 Develop a feasibility study for the implementation of a platform for communication and social participation.

3.5 Encourage, through “Agentes de Governo Aberto” Program (“Open Government Agents”) public notice, the submission of projects related to access to information and use of the portals and systems mentioned

Start Date: January 2019

End Date: August 2020

Editorial note: to see the complete text, visit

https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sao-Paulo_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

Commitment Overview

Verifiability

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Did It Open Government?

Not specific enough to be verifiable

Specific enough to be verifiable

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

3. Overall

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Context and Objectives

Overall objective and relevance

This commitment seeks to improve transparency tools and access to public information. The diagnostic is that there are several online portals run by the local administration, but they are not integrated or user-friendly. The commitment comprises three channels of access to public information: the 1) Official Journal of the City, 2) the “Transparency Portal,” and the Financial Budget System.

The Official Journal of The City is the document that comprises all the public acts: bills, decrees, hiring and firing of public servants, and so forth. The journal has had an open format version since the end of 2014, with official records from 2003 onwards. This was a project done in partnership between the Office of the Municipal Comptroller and with Colab, a research centre from the University of São Paulo, which was discontinued in 2016. Two years later, the city administration decided to stop the printing of a hard copy of the document and only have it available online – without, however, making any changes to the design of the publication.

The Transparency Portal is a public information channel online provided by the Municipal Decree nº 53.623, from 2012. In the last days of Mayor Kassab's administration, the mayor published the decree that enforced the information access bill at the local level and provided that the city should have the Transparency Portal, which must contain transfers of financial resources and detailed budgetary and financial execution. In 2014, Mayor Haddad issued a decree (nº 54.779 from 2014) providing that the portal also include bids carried out and in progress, with public notices, annexes and results; along with contracts signed by the administration, in full; and the signed agreements in their entirety, with their respective process numbers.

The portal was revamped in 2016 to become more user-friendly and intuitive, maintaining the proposal to strengthen social control and allow greater access to and use of this tool. Making use of the free use of external services such as the Infogram and using icons from public databases as references, the portal became a hub for other municipal government websites and presented graphics related to the work of the Office of the Municipal Comptroller.

Finally, the Financial Budget System (SOF) is the platform in which the city registers information about its planning and budgetary authorization, hiring, budgetary and financial execution, and accounting. More recently, in December 2016, City Hall organized a “Hacker Café” workshop and worked to make the SOF data available through an API (Application Programming Interface). This tool allows greater manageability of the return of the budget execution data to improve the mechanisms to meet the legal requirements of transparency and the demands of society. The API user normally produces applications and has good knowledge in programming, so civil society entities specialized in public accounts, public agencies and universities, among others, can make use of the interface to develop other tools to access and disseminate public information.

One of the key milestones of the commitment is to provide training through the existent Open Government Agents (Agentes de Governo Aberto) programme, which has been in existence since 2015 and consists of the training of civil society representatives, social movement members, and citizens in general about open government policies and tools (training on transparency, innovation, participation and integrity). The training courses are theoretical and practical and are given by the Open Government Agents, i.e. individuals whose accredited projects were selected, through the program's Accreditation Notice, receiving a scholarship as financial support. The program has already trained approximately 23,000 citizens, and it was awarded at the Social Innovation Forum in the Public Sector and recognized as a replicable government practice by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy (IOPD).

The second milestone provides the development of materials and dissemination on the use of the portals and systems mentioned. The milestone text does not however specify what kind of materials or how dissemination would be implemented. A civil servant explained that this would be specified during the implementation phase. [19]

The third milestone aims to strengthen the InfoAberta network [20] by providing training to civil servants to support the promotion of open government practices and values. The other milestones relate to activities thought to support the assimilation, by the public, of the integrated web portal to access public information, basically involving training materials and outreach.

This is an access-to-information promotion commitment. However, it does not provide the disclosure of more information but rather focuses on improving the form and quality of the information disclosed to the public. The activities outlined about the milestones tackle both ends of the information flow: the supply (milestone 1) – which is the core of this commitment – with the portal merger, on the one side, and the demand (milestone 2, 3, 4 and 5), with training and creating communications and outreach channels, to support the usage of the new platform by key stakeholders from civil society, on the other side. The commitment is also relevant for technology and innovation since the improvement of access-to-information is based on changes in the IT systems.

Verifiability and potential impact

The way this commitment was drafted is specific enough to be verifiable. It is clear that the Official Journal, the Transparency Portal, and the Financial and Budgetary System, currently based in three different platforms, are to be integrated into one. However, the actual shape this merger would take is not clearly defined. Moreover, the commitment does not explicitly state which stage the technical difficulties and coordination with the public IT company (Prodam) that manages databases will be tackled in. [21]

The commitment has a technology and innovation component, although it is not clearly stated how the innovation will take place, since the type of integration is not defined. Additionally, a civil servant pointed out that all three portals are in fact maintained by different Secretariats and have completely different systems, which increases the challenge of integrating them. [22] It does, however, contain aspects that can improve public capability development to improve access to information and participation (training, communications and outreach). Despite the relevance of these activities, one CSO representative pointed out that such changes in portals of access to information often entail risks of not taking a user-centered approach. She pointed out as an example the Transparency Portal of the federal government, which, after the restructuring, represented an improvement for some users, but it has rendered more difficult for others to navigate. This risk, she argues, is also present in the case of this City Hall initiative to design the improvements to the integrated portal and can make it difficult to ensure user appropriation of the new system. [23]

A civil servant mentioned [24] that the feasibility study would be related to the case of the Consul platform. Consul is a free, open source software portal that allows citizen participation features such as consultations, collaborative legislation, voting, and participatory budgeting. Indeed, this kind of portal would bring innovation, as City Hall does not currently have such platform to roll out online social participation. However, this was not written in the commitment or the milestones, and despite the feasibility study being a first step towards the adoption of such a platform, it does not ensure the portal implementation.

Considering the limitations explained above, overall, this objective can potentially have a minor impact on the São Paulo City governance framework.

Next steps

The first recommendation here would be to state clearly in milestone 1 the need to coordinate with the IT public enterprise that manages the database. Many attempts to implement innovation, or even minor changes are hindered, for not taking this key stakeholder into consideration.

In addition, this commitment could potentially benefit from the incorporation of a more participatory approach to the development of the new portal. There is vast knowledge – sometimes freely available – in society. The public authority could make use of this capability by integrating the public in the process – not only programming experts, but also designers, heavy users and citizens in general, to both solve potential problems and to find issues and solutions that the developers would not be able to find without public participation and engagement.

The IRM researcher understands that this commitment, although technically difficult, does not require follow-up or further developments. Therefore, it does not need to be made a priority in future action plans but rather should be integrated into ongoing programmes (such as Open Government Agents) and processes – in particular to maintain, manage and enliven the communications platform.

[20] The Info Aberta Network is composed by civil servants in different Secretariats and its aim is to improve access to information and other open government policies: https://www.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/cidade/secretarias/controladoria_geral/coordenadoria_de_promocao_da_integridade/?p=225252
[21] The Communications Secretariat summarized the main problems related to the IT company as follows: Among the contemporary challenges of the public authorities are the various difficulties faced in the area of technology related to the lack of qualified human resources, the mismatch generated by the rapid evolution of the private market for technology and its remuneration, the lack of adequate structure and systematization of governance.”: http://www.capital.sp.gov.br/noticia/cidade-avanca-na-carreira-publica-de-tecnologia
[22] Interview with Anna Dienstmann, 26 March 2019.
[23] Interview with Renata Galf, 19 March 2019.
[24] Interview with Ana Dienstmann, 26 March 2019.

Commitments

  1. Budget

    SAO0006, 2018, E-Government

  2. Decentralization and Local Development

    SAO0007, 2018, Environment and Climate

  3. Information System, Participatory Communication and Transparency

    SAO0008, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Education

    SAO0009, 2018, E-Government

  5. Fight Against Corruption

    SAO0010, 2018, Access to Information

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership