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Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Neissan Monadjem Neissan Monadjem Founder and Member of the Board / Transparência Brasil.

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Presentation on theme: "Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Neissan Monadjem Neissan Monadjem Founder and Member of the Board / Transparência Brasil."— Presentation transcript:

1 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Neissan Monadjem Neissan Monadjem Founder and Member of the Board / Transparência Brasil GLOBAL FORUM V ON FIGHTING CORRUPTION AND SAFEGUARDING INTEGRITY. Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa 2 to 5 April 2007

2 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Introduction: Introduction: Social advancement, arises from the ideals and shared beliefs that weld society together. One of these beliefs is that Governments must serve people and thus are accountable for their actions. They must be transparent in the sense that their actions should be accessed by the people they serve. Meaningful social change results as much from the development of attitudes that foster constructive patterns of human interaction as from the acquisition of technical capacities and evolution of governance systems. The creation of a "corruption-free" public milieu depends on many factors, from the building up of ethical leadership within individuals, communities and social institutions to revisiting the meaning of public service and adopting strategies that may enhance the level of transparency of institutions. The later is the objective of Transparência Brasil and subject of this presentation. Regardless of the maturity of Democratic Institutions or the independence of the press and media in a country, there is a separate role for civil society organizations. Any country will benefit if its civil society has a level of organizational structures such as N.G.Os. Their role is to become a legitimate conveyor of the vision of organized society, as well as a consultation channel with Government Institutions.

3 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Access to public information Here we chose to approach one item alone. Of the many fields that corruption fighting can act, we will concentrate in cases that enhance access to public information in Brazil. Here we chose to approach one item alone. Of the many fields that corruption fighting can act, we will concentrate in cases that enhance access to public information in Brazil. Obtaining access to State-held information has been among the priorities of many organisations dedicated to enhance the integrity of the public sector. Advocating access to information relies in the belief that anything done by a State is not only done in the name of the public but with few exceptions, any information connected to such activities belong to the public. Obtaining access to State-held information has been among the priorities of many organisations dedicated to enhance the integrity of the public sector. Advocating access to information relies in the belief that anything done by a State is not only done in the name of the public but with few exceptions, any information connected to such activities belong to the public. Along the last few decades, enactment of access to information laws and regulations spread more swiftly in richer countries than in the worlds poorer regions. The promulgation of the American Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in 1966 is considered a landmark because of the influence it has had when arguing the case for opening up governments archives. In some countries where this instrument was not foreseen by Constitution, it became necessary to use ordinary legislation to introduce in the legal framework the right to access public information. Along the last few decades, enactment of access to information laws and regulations spread more swiftly in richer countries than in the worlds poorer regions. The promulgation of the American Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in 1966 is considered a landmark because of the influence it has had when arguing the case for opening up governments archives. In some countries where this instrument was not foreseen by Constitution, it became necessary to use ordinary legislation to introduce in the legal framework the right to access public information. A number of countries with recent Constitutions do guarantee citizens access to information. However, the existence of a Constitutional right of citizens to gain access to State-held information has not shown to be sufficient to guarantee that such information is delivered. A number of countries with recent Constitutions do guarantee citizens access to information. However, the existence of a Constitutional right of citizens to gain access to State-held information has not shown to be sufficient to guarantee that such information is delivered.

4 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Access to public information The following map depicts in green the countries where there are regulations concerning access to information, in dark yellow those countries where such regulations are being discussed by the Legislature and in light yellow countries where there is no legislative discussion about the matter. A country being green does not necessarily entail that its regulations are effective or fully in force. The following map depicts in green the countries where there are regulations concerning access to information, in dark yellow those countries where such regulations are being discussed by the Legislature and in light yellow countries where there is no legislative discussion about the matter. A country being green does not necessarily entail that its regulations are effective or fully in force. [Banisar 2006]. Map published in [Banisar 2006]. Map published in

5 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet Whatever is the case, the most convenient medium today to convey information is the Internet. It is cheap to maintain, it is permanent and accessible (in Brazil, unfortunately to only 25% of population). As a result, the amount of information presented in the Internet about governments, legislatures, the Judiciary, regulatory agencies etc. is steadily increasing. Whatever is the case, the most convenient medium today to convey information is the Internet. It is cheap to maintain, it is permanent and accessible (in Brazil, unfortunately to only 25% of population). As a result, the amount of information presented in the Internet about governments, legislatures, the Judiciary, regulatory agencies etc. is steadily increasing. The availability of information provided by the State does not automatically imply that the information is put to use. Being there is not enough. Masses of data do not necessarily result in a better understanding of what is going on in the State. The best place to hide a tree is in the forest. In order to pick up the trees, the forest must be mapped and understood. In order to be widely understandable, data provided by the State must be analysed, commented, cross-referenced, summarised and published according to each purpose and public. The availability of information provided by the State does not automatically imply that the information is put to use. Being there is not enough. Masses of data do not necessarily result in a better understanding of what is going on in the State. The best place to hide a tree is in the forest. In order to pick up the trees, the forest must be mapped and understood. In order to be widely understandable, data provided by the State must be analysed, commented, cross-referenced, summarised and published according to each purpose and public. The prime responsibility for doing that is usually attributed to the press. However, there are other sets of actors with similar responsibilities – especially Non-Governmental Organisations. The prime responsibility for doing that is usually attributed to the press. However, there are other sets of actors with similar responsibilities – especially Non-Governmental Organisations. Even the press responsibility is overstated. Excepting for immediately obvious events (such as somebody being indicted by the Public Ministry), the press mostly publishes material that has been interpreted by someone else. The average journalist do not have the time to take a set of raw econometric data and identify peculiarities that might indicate that perhaps everything is not quite as pristine as upheld by the authorities. Someone else must do that and point it out to journalists. This is where academics and, especially, NGOs enter the picture. Even the press responsibility is overstated. Excepting for immediately obvious events (such as somebody being indicted by the Public Ministry), the press mostly publishes material that has been interpreted by someone else. The average journalist do not have the time to take a set of raw econometric data and identify peculiarities that might indicate that perhaps everything is not quite as pristine as upheld by the authorities. Someone else must do that and point it out to journalists. This is where academics and, especially, NGOs enter the picture.

6 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet Here we chose to approach one item alone. Of the many fields that corruption fighting can act, we will concentrate in cases that enhance access to public information in Brazil. Here we chose to approach one item alone. Of the many fields that corruption fighting can act, we will concentrate in cases that enhance access to public information in Brazil. Obtaining access to State-held information has been among the priorities of many organisations dedicated to enhance the integrity of the public sector. Advocating access to information relies in the belief that anything done by a State is not only done in the name of the public but with few exceptions, any information connected to such activities belong to the public. Obtaining access to State-held information has been among the priorities of many organisations dedicated to enhance the integrity of the public sector. Advocating access to information relies in the belief that anything done by a State is not only done in the name of the public but with few exceptions, any information connected to such activities belong to the public. Along the last few decades, enactment of access to information laws and regulations spread more swiftly in richer countries than in the worlds poorer regions. The promulgation of the American Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in 1966 is considered a landmark because of the influence it has had when arguing the case for opening up governments archives. In some countries where this instrument was not foreseen by Constitution, it became necessary to use ordinary legislation to introduce in the legal framework the right to access public information. Along the last few decades, enactment of access to information laws and regulations spread more swiftly in richer countries than in the worlds poorer regions. The promulgation of the American Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) in 1966 is considered a landmark because of the influence it has had when arguing the case for opening up governments archives. In some countries where this instrument was not foreseen by Constitution, it became necessary to use ordinary legislation to introduce in the legal framework the right to access public information. A number of countries with recent Constitutions do guarantee citizens access to information. However, the existence of a Constitutional right of citizens to gain access to State-held information has not shown to be sufficient to guarantee that such information is delivered. A number of countries with recent Constitutions do guarantee citizens access to information. However, the existence of a Constitutional right of citizens to gain access to State-held information has not shown to be sufficient to guarantee that such information is delivered.

7 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet We will briefly demonstrate some Initiatives that use information to throw light onto different aspects of the public sphere in Brazil. We will briefly demonstrate some Initiatives that use information to throw light onto different aspects of the public sphere in Brazil. It is important to note that most of the examples that follow, depend directly on information provided by State institutions. If it was not the case, these examples would still be possible, but far more complex and requiring a much substantial amount of investment. It is important to note that most of the examples that follow, depend directly on information provided by State institutions. If it was not the case, these examples would still be possible, but far more complex and requiring a much substantial amount of investment. 1- Monitoring public market conditions and unit prices 1- Monitoring public market conditions and unit prices 2- Internet Procurement Assistant 2- Internet Procurement Assistant 3 - Political donations web-site (Às Claras) 3 - Political donations web-site (Às Claras) 4- Excelências – Background information on politicians 4- Excelências – Background information on politicians

8 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet 1- Monitoring public market conditions and unit prices 1- Monitoring public market conditions and unit prices Website: Background: According to the Brazilian laws, all public tenders and all ensuing contracts must be informed in detail to the corresponding Supreme Audit Institution. There is one such SAI for the Federal sphere, and one for each of the 27 Brazilian states. As a result, such SAIs hold a wealth of information about public procurement and contracts. That information is amenable to statistical treatment aiming at better understanding the economic performance of public procurement, identifying inefficiencies, waste and corruption. Alas, such analyses are seldom performed. Initiative: An agreement between Transparência Brasil and the Southern state of Santa Catarina allowed to use the information reported by all the states 293 municipalities to feed an interactive website (address above). Santa Catarina has a Gross Domestic Product of US$ billion, corresponding to 3.9% of the country's GDP. The states GDP (and thus municipal expenditures) is more than Bulgaria's or Lithuania's, and equivalent to the combined GDPs of Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, or Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua. The information conveyed in the website includes: The information conveyed in the website includes: Amounts by providers and by municipality per period Items won per provider Distribution by type of tender Geographical distributions Apparent consumption of commodities, regressed against different indicators Main objective: To highlight inefficiencies, perhaps resulting from bribery.

9 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet

10 2- Internet Procurement Assistant 2- Internet Procurement Assistant Website: Background: The Brazilian Public Procurement and Contracts law encompasses all spheres and all branches. The law is heavily procedural. Each procedure pertaining to each phase is specifically defined and the limits for the definition of conditions etc. are detailed. This makes it relatively easy to understand (typically, the very fact that it is procedimental gives rise to complaints, notably from public officials, for sharply reducing their discretionary powers). Initiative: An agreement between Transparência Brasil and the Southern state of Santa Catarina allowed to build an interactive tool in the Internet to provide commented information on the law and, especially, to perform benchmarking of a given tender. In the benchmark module, the method is based on asking the visitor to travel a binary decision tree covering each specific point of the law. Once finished, the tool provides a report where all points in disagreement with the law are highlighted, together with an explanation. Main objective: To identify nonconformity of tenders to the Public Procurement regulations. Targets: Public officials (especially in municipalities, where capabilities are generally low), the press, NGOs, local communities. Targets: Public officials (especially in municipalities, where capabilities are generally low), the press, NGOs, local communities.

11 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet

12 3 - Political donations web-site (Às Claras) Website: 3 - Political donations web-site (Às Claras) Website: Background: Brazilian law requires all candidates to inform to the electoral authority campaign donations they get (as well as expenditures), fully identifying the donors and providers. The data is available in the authoritys website, but the interface does not allow for cross-referencing. Transparencia Brasil requests the databases from the electoral authority and re-works the whole set of data. Background: Brazilian law requires all candidates to inform to the electoral authority campaign donations they get (as well as expenditures), fully identifying the donors and providers. The data is available in the authoritys website, but the interface does not allow for cross-referencing. Transparencia Brasil requests the databases from the electoral authority and re-works the whole set of data. Initiative: The project was firstly financed with Transparencia Brasil own funds. After pilot, a grant from the Ford Foundation was secured, allowing for the full development of the first full edition of the project (2002 general elections) and part of the second edition (2004 municipal elections). Information include: Initiative: The project was firstly financed with Transparencia Brasil own funds. After pilot, a grant from the Ford Foundation was secured, allowing for the full development of the first full edition of the project (2002 general elections) and part of the second edition (2004 municipal elections). Information include: Candidates, their parties, states/municipalities, votes received, whether they were elected or not etc. Candidates, their parties, states/municipalities, votes received, whether they were elected or not etc. All donors. Donor identification is particularly problematic. Since the form provided by the electoral authority is not self-certified, the inputted information might contain errors. Lack of uniformity is the rule rather than the exception. Firms are identified both by their names and their registries in the Finance Ministry. The name of any given firm might be informed in any number of ways. On the other hand, the Finance Ministry numbers differ according to the donor being the head office or a branch – and they might contain errors. All this means that the whole donor database must be treated to aggregate under the same name/number different original entries. In a municipal election, there are millions of such donors. A mixed automated/manual procedure was developed to deal with that. All donors. Donor identification is particularly problematic. Since the form provided by the electoral authority is not self-certified, the inputted information might contain errors. Lack of uniformity is the rule rather than the exception. Firms are identified both by their names and their registries in the Finance Ministry. The name of any given firm might be informed in any number of ways. On the other hand, the Finance Ministry numbers differ according to the donor being the head office or a branch – and they might contain errors. All this means that the whole donor database must be treated to aggregate under the same name/number different original entries. In a municipal election, there are millions of such donors. A mixed automated/manual procedure was developed to deal with that. Comparative individual information and statistics (votes, money received, money per vote ratio). Comparative individual information and statistics (votes, money received, money per vote ratio). A search engine. A search engine. Extended reports on individual candidates and individual donors. Extended reports on individual candidates and individual donors. Main objective: To identify who pays whom in the Brazilian elections. Targets: Press, NGOs etc. Main objective: To identify who pays whom in the Brazilian elections. Targets: Press, NGOs etc.

13 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet 4- Excelências – Background information on politicians 4- Excelências – Background information on politicians Website: Background: Transparencia Brasil identified a demand for information on candidates to elections that was not being satisfied by the media. Voters tended to get information on candidates exclusively from the political propaganda and only incidentally from the media. Initiative: The project was firstly financed with Transparencia Brasil own funds and aimed at the 2006 elections for the Federal Lower House. Multibusca (mentioned previously) was essential to collect information on the politicans depicted. The projects success was extraordinary, rapidly becoming a phenomenon of the Brazilian Internet during the 2006 elections. Millions of visitors consulted the candidates pages. The projects success also led to Transparencia Brasil winning an international contest by the United Nations Democracy Fund which resulted in a two-year grant to maintain and extend the project. The projects success also led to Transparencia Brasil winning an international contest by the United Nations Democracy Fund which resulted in a two-year grant to maintain and extend the project. Information conveyed in the original version of Excelências (limited to candidates seeking re-election to the Lower Federal House) included: Information conveyed in the original version of Excelências (limited to candidates seeking re-election to the Lower Federal House) included: Assests declared to the electoral court; Donations received in previous elections; Judicial processes; Courts of accounts processes; How the candidates expend the allowances granted them by the House; News on corruption where the candidates were mentioned; Main objective: To provide information on elected politicians. Targets: Press, NGOs, individuals, etc.

14 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet Given that each program was developed in a relatively short time (spanning mostly from 6 to 18 months) and that not only this small sample of 4 examples, but all other Internet services TB has enacted where fare more effective then expected, particularly considering Transparency Brasils strict budgetary limitations, it is perhaps interesting to share few recommendations to other N.G.Os that might be interested in developing similar strategies. Some useful tips about How to do it: Some useful tips about How to do it: Delivering information is about communications. People who are able to deliver information are not the same people who understand the source data or write computer routines. Start simple and grow from there. Do not jump head-first into hyper-complex projects without first testing the waters. A functioning pilot with limited data treatment is a better door-opener with donors than any amount of wishful-thinking. Start simple and grow from there. Do not jump head-first into hyper-complex projects without first testing the waters. A functioning pilot with limited data treatment is a better door-opener with donors than any amount of wishful-thinking. Try to avoid tied donations. Most money will go to consultants appointed by the donor. Try to avoid tied donations. Most money will go to consultants appointed by the donor. Seek simplicity. The more convoluted the information is, the less it will be understood. Navigation must be easy, data cleanly presented. Too many choices bewilder the visitor. Seek simplicity. The more convoluted the information is, the less it will be understood. Navigation must be easy, data cleanly presented. Too many choices bewilder the visitor. Do not simply replicate the information provided by the State. A monitoring initiative must enrich existing information. Do not simply replicate the information provided by the State. A monitoring initiative must enrich existing information. Charts synthesise information. However, most people are unable to interpret them. When feasible, always present tables as well as charts. Under normal circumstances, newspapers will always chose a table over a graph – it is much cheaper to produce. Charts synthesise information. However, most people are unable to interpret them. When feasible, always present tables as well as charts. Under normal circumstances, newspapers will always chose a table over a graph – it is much cheaper to produce. Operations performed with data collected from public sources must not distort the data. Wrong information is the best path to lose an institution biggest asset: Its credibility. Operations performed with data collected from public sources must not distort the data. Wrong information is the best path to lose an institution biggest asset: Its credibility.

15 Setting the stage for non-State actors. The Role of Civil Society Monitoring Government trough the Internet Thank you ! Neissan Monadjem:


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