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Open Parliaments: The Case of Buenos Aires

Parlamentos Abiertos: el caso de Buenos Aires

Florencia Romano|

Between 2021 and 2023, the Legislature of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires adopted open government and active transparency standards to promote a Legislative Branch that is closer to citizens. The Legislature, with which I have had the pleasure of working, carried out six specific actions to achieve this goal.

1. Made 120 public commitments, of which 95 percent were fulfilled.

To stay accountable to citizens, we’ve published an open management dashboard that allows them to know the initiatives we implement. The dashboard, which allows users to filter initiatives by strategic axis and degree of progress, is the first of its kind in a Latin American parliament. Some completed commitments include the implementation of digital signatures for parliamentary work, easier processes for purchases and contracts, the implementation of the citizen’s window, and the launch of the Legislative Dialogue portal.

2. Simplified the website to make it clearer, more agile, and user-friendly.

We redesigned the Legislature’s official website to improve the user experience. We simplified its architecture, reducing it from 54 to 22 pages so that all information is accessible within a maximum of three clicks. That way, we ensured access to information in a clear and transparent manner for all citizens, with more intuitive navigation and plain, simple language.

We also updated information on various contact channels, the public information access law, parliamentary statistics with systematized and precise information, and the public integrity office, which contains the financial disclosures of legislators and officials. Additionally, we added the open data portal, which already has 48 new and updated datasets in open format.

We recently published performance information for each legislator, including the number of legislative projects presented, parliamentary committees they belong to, and information about their team of collaborators.


3. Created the first Evidence-Informed Policy Office in the region.

With the support of all political blocs and parties, the office aims to improve the quality of legislative bills generated in the Legislature that impact the quality of life for the 3 million people living in Buenos Aires. The office was inspired by the international trend of creating scientific-legislative advisory bodies to promote legislative quality.

Among its main functions, the office supports and trains Legislature staff and committees in making evidence-informed decisions, and promotes prospective evaluations of projects and policy impact assessments. The office also assists legislators and advisors in searching and building data, backgrounds, and evidence for formulating projects, monitoring, and evaluating policies within the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

The office is a great example of an effective co-creation process with more than 43 stakeholders from Argentina and around the world, whose ideas and contributions enhanced this tool. We have a guide on evidence-informed policies and a self-paced course created, pro bono, by academic experts.

4. Promoted co-creation and citizen participation initiatives.

Through the Legislature’s portal, anyone can access legislators’ proposals and contribute to co-creating legislative projects. During the 2023 Open Government Week, more than 100 participants from civil society, academia, legislators, and citizens co-created commitments through an IDEATHON. Together, we co-created commitments focused on providing training workshops to promote citizen participation, showcasing the “Legislature and School” program, implementing a usability analysis for continuous improvement of the user experience on the official website, or publishing a platform with explanatory content on laws in simple language.

5. An open legislature speaks a clear language.

As part of the goals set in the Open Government Roundtable and following plain language principles, we published a Clear Language Guide and generated content to raise awareness and promote its use among legislators. Additionally, we conducted a Self-Assessment Module in plain language and provided internal training to encourage the production of texts in plain language.

Implementing policies that brought us closer to a more open and accessible Parliament and fostered public dialogue allowed us to carry out reforms with greater social legitimacy and, therefore, are more likely to endure over time. Citizen participation during these processes and the interaction between legislators and the public were crucial to foster greater involvement, improving the institutional quality of Parliament, and increasing citizen trust. Within the institution, consensus-building among all blocs, beyond political party affiliation, was crucial to bring about substantive changes that brought us closer to a more professional Parliament, such as the creation of the evidence-informed policy office.

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