Exchange of Experiences between Open Government agencies from Paraguay and Brazil

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The Technical Secretariat for Socioeconomic and Development Planning at the President’s Office of the Republic of Paraguay (STP) submitted a proposal to the Support Unit of the Open Government Partnership to carry out an exchange visit to the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU) of Brazil. The exchange was proposed as an opportunity to share expertise and knowledge about successful commitments in order to learn best practices that could be replicated during the co-creation phase of the Third Open Government Action Plan 2016-2018. See www.opengovpartnership.org/country/brazil/action-plan

This project was approved by both parties and took place last September 30th and October 1st.

The exchange between Paraguay and Brazil represented an interesting forum for both parties, where they shared best practices and lessons learnt by evaluating their implemented plans.

Representatives from the General Secretariat of the President’s Office (National Secretariat for Social Coordination), the Ministry of Justice (National Secretariat for Consumer Affairs) and the Comptroller General of the Union met to discuss Brazil’s affiliation to OGP, its first action plans, implementation of commitments, self-assessment and evaluation by the Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM), as well as the coming phase of co-creation of the Third Action Plan 2016-2018. Through these discussion, the parties gained an understanding of how to strengthen this new form of citizen communication.

Delegations analyzed the following best practices implemented by Brazil:

  • Create an executive group where the civil society acts as support to the Inter-ministry Committee for Open Government.
  • Establish Open Government focal points within Government Agencies.
  • Set a period for virtual and on-site submissions and consultations.
  • Assign the establishment of commitments to specialist working groups: For instance, education, health, and access to information.
  • Provide a response period for the relevant Ministry to approve or reject submissions.
  • Clearly establish the role and responsibilities of parties from the beginning; keep a record of the process and each decision made.
  • Analyze possible alternatives to engage the citizenship during the implementation process.

Successful commitments by Paraguay its Second Action Plan include the passing of the Law of Access to Public Information, becoming the 100th country in the world with this legal framework; information availability in an open data format (education, housing, public expenses) and the creation of a forum for dialogue among different sectors and the country’s administrative body.

The following challenges were faced in the development of the National Action Plan:

  • Linking to Paraguay’s 2030 National Development Plan.
  • Increasing communication to achieve citizen participation.
  • Engaging other branches of government, agencies and local governments (state and municipalities).
  • Broadening the participation of civil society (NGO, academia, unions, etc.).

We would like to thank OGP Support Unit for its support to this exchange visit and the Comptroller General of the Union for its extraordinary kindness and accompaniment during the visit activities.

The following details the analyzed commitments and describes some highlights:

Commitment 1.10: Implementation of a Methodology for Social Participation in the Monitoring of PPA (Brazil’s Multi-year Plan) and in the design of the Federal Budget: aiming to foster, in coordination with the Planning Ministry, the participation, rating, and dialogue with society for monitoring the public planning cycle.

Commitment 1.11: Implementation of a monitoring system for claims of social movement through the Inter-Ministry body “Mesa de Seguimiento”, representing a strategy for government monitoring and evaluation in response to the claims of social movements – allowing for the necessary improvements of work processes, information exchange and government coordination to effectively resolve claims presented by the civil society.

Commitment 2.5 Encouraging Social Participation: we aim at encouraging social control through a broad communication strategy that conveys information about social control and anti-corruption, so that citizen participation can be acknowledged as a sound mechanism for fostering public ethics and integrity in administration.

Examples of initiatives developed under this commitment are: online training courses on Social Control and citizenship; the initiative “One for All and All for One”, aiming at fostering educational activities to ensure an ethical approach, citizen responsibility, social participation, democracy and self esteem on students from municipal schools; training courses about the Program “Keep an Eye on Public Money”, an initiative that has been redesigned to encourage municipal authorities, public policy advisors and civil society representatives to make better decisions on public expenses, and the development of children-oriented comic books on “The fight against Corruption”.

Commitment 2.9 “Improving data transparency of the National System for Information on Consumer Protection (SINDEC)”. Led by the National Secretariat for Consumer Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, this commitment aims at “improving transparency of the claims record of SINDEC through the continuous disclosure of their data in an open format on the website www.dados.gov.br, in compliance with the principles of the Open Government Data policy.”

The content is used to evaluate the regulatory impact from the consumer’s perspective, monitoring for the effectiveness of the measures applied by all the System’s entities, besides other public organisms and the market. The System is composed as follows:

  • Public Defender: provides assistance and free legal advice to consumers and acts on behalf of public defense.
  • Public Ministry: fosters and acts on behalf of the diffuse and collective interests of consumers.
  • Procon: creates, coordinates and executes state and municipal policies for consumer defense, articulates state and municipal systems, promotes attention to consumer and monitors for infringements to consumers’ rights.
  • Civil Entities: acts to defend consumers by representing the general interests of the civil society before the market and public organisms.

Commitment 3.1 Restructuring of the Federal Government’s Transparency Portal aiming at improving the usability of the Transparency Portal by adhering to the open data principles and making it more interactive and accessible in order to ease its navigation by different stakeholders.

All information must be maintained by creating tools to help the searching process be more intuitive for all types of data. The portal must also incorporate innovative technologies and satisfy society’s growing expectations. We also foresee the restructuring of the portal databases and their complete integration to guarantee the management of large sets of data in a more dynamic and efficient way.

Commitment 3.3 Transparent Brazil Program supports the implementation of the Law of Access to Information and other efforts to strengthen public transparency and the adoption of Open Government measures in states and municipalities.

Online and on-site orientation courses are developed under this commitment, as well as campaigns and education and communication strategies on the Transparency Portal about system development and citizen information (e-SIC) at the subnational level.

Commitment 3.7 Improving social participation mechanisms on public policies: through the identification of general recommendations and the articulation of existing mechanisms. We expect these actions to improve the effectiveness of the participation forums and public policies.

Commitment 3.8 Brazil Portal on Social Participation: the portal is part of the National Policy on Social Participation. It will incorporate information about opportunities for social participation in the federal government and will encourage the creation of communities for citizen participation. The portal can be accessed at www.participa.br

Dialoga Brasil www.dialoga.gov.br

Although this commitment is not listed under the current Open Government Action Plan as it started on July 28th, 2015, Dialoga Brasil became a forum for digital participation and interaction between the government and citizenship to debate the Government’s priorities, disclose key information, and opening a direct dialogue for citizen submissions to help make improvements.

Dialoga Brasil consists of 14 topics and 80 priority programs of the federal government to foster citizen participation and suggestions on how to improve public policies on health, public security, education, poverty alleviation and culture.

The three most voted proposals will be assumed by the corresponding Ministry.