Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica

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Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica

PortugalLisboa, Portugal
Year Founded:
2010
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We intend to give the citizens a straight channel, of online access, to contact the public authorities (Local, regional and national) with access requests to public data. The platform allows straight contact with institutions and measure its answer capacity to citizen’s request.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What If citizens could directly contact, online, public institutions and measure and compare the quality of its response?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Portugal has an advanced public information access law, but citizens are unaware of it and the public institutions do not apply it. In practice, reaching public information is a hard and slow process. As a result, despite the law, it keeps not having effective public information access, which means that institutions and political power are not responsible in front of its citizens and do not share data of public concern.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

We intend to create an online platform, where citizens may publish access requests to public data that are automatically directed to competent entities. This platform publically logs all the requests done and measures the time that each institution takes to answer. The project team, together with the users, also evaluates the quality of the answers. Citizens may then compare the performance of the several public institutions when answering these requests, also working as a benchmarking tool for the institutions. The platform also allows creating and managing mass email campaigns for the citizens to focus their petitions to State agents, to adopt certain public policies.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A citizen or NGO can use the platform to ask the Economy Ministry to make public a mining concession contract, so the citizens can freely assess their justice system and be aware of the tributes for the State. By law, the Ministry must respond in 10 workdays. The platform automatically sends the request and measures the time the Ministry takes to answer, comparing it to the average response time of other Ministries and public institutions (thus creating pressure to enhance their performance). In case the Ministry doesn't answer, a pressure campaign might start, and through the platform the citizens are invited to send an e-mail to the Minister, requesting the information sharing.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The expected impact of this project is to completely change the access system to public information and effectively empower the citizens to be more demanding with public authorities. It's a practical, accessible, and easy to use way to share public interest information, making the law of right to access information efficient. On the other hand, it will allow to public institutions themselves to be aware of their obligations towards the storage of Administrative Documents Access Law and enhance their performance in the response given to citizens. The fundamental goal is to create a direct contact system between the civil society and the public institutions, that allows citizens to know their civil rights and gain access to useful public information; on the other hand, enabling the institutions to involve the citizens in a direct way on their decision making processes.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Once ensured the costs of the platform customization, the maintenance expenses will be relatively reduced, since it's about a platform boosted by the own citizens. We intend to use the data generated by the solution as a source for studies about the public authorities efficiency, for that having self funding. For being a platform of free access, focused on practical results, it will also supported by crowd funding.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Public information access solutions have been developed in several countries, in several ways, including online petitions and others. The advantage of this platform is, using a free-access software, creating a customized solution adapted to the conditions of Portuguese law and to the reality of the countries’ institutions. It's a solutions that can also be quite customizable for other countries and other political realities, legal and institutional. Once complete, the solution is a “one stop shop” for the citizens to use it in their information access requests and demands to the authorities.
Team

Founding Story

In Transparência e Integridade's work, an NGO member of Transparency International net, the access to public data is a challenge. The fight for transparency and the combat to corruption demand access to information about public affairs. In spite of having a good law system in Portugal, it isn't abided. Because of that this was, since always, a priority work for the association. Since the beginning we try to concern the civil society to demand more access to public data, making citizens aware to be more demanding and, at the same time, giving means to public authorities to answer in a more efficient way. Creating a common point between citizens and public authorities is the best way to give efficacy to our mission.
About You
Organization:
Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica
About You
First Name

João Paulo

Last Name

Batalha

LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica

Organization Country

, Lisboa

Country where this project is creating social impact

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Impact
Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

The main goal is applying the solution to the public institutions of the central State, further expanding it to the local institutional authorities. This way, the solution will be the natural resource for the citizens to ask to the authorities more access to the public interest information, going automatically to any institution in the country. Transparência e Integridade, a Portuguese NGO, has been working with a partner organization in Brazil, (Amarribo) in access to information projects, whereas the creation of an identical solution, customized to the brazilian reality, will be the natural step for the development of the project.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The main barrier for the success of the project will be the lack of adhesion by the citizens. Because of that, we'll do a communication campaign addressed to the citizens, in social network medias and with the media's support in the meaning of promoting the solution and encouraging people to use the platform. Another important target for the success the project will be the NGOs and other organizations from civil society (like environment organizations) that typically address the information requests to public authorities and that, this way, will have a simpler and more intuitive platform to use in their campaigns.

Sustainability
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

Transparência e Integridade Associação Cïvica is a Portuguese NGO, member of the Transparency International (TI) net, present in over 100 countries around the world. We have a partnership with the Brazilian association Amarribo (local correspondent of TI), with whom we are trying to boost a joint project of information access in a local level. In a regular basis, we share resources with other TI chapters in Europe and worldwide.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Demonstrate how closed feedback loops can make a difference in people’s lives.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

The solution is a common point between citizens and NGOs looking for public information with the State authorities; and the public organs in charge for spreading public interest data and consulting citizens in their decision processes of public policies. In a single platform we promote the common point between the State and citizens, ensuring a channel for the civil society to be heard and for the public institutions to answer to people's queries, resulting in more participative and informed public policies, with more civic awareness.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English, Portuguese.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

We intend to create a direct line between the citizens and public institutions, so they can access information of public interest more easily, e so the institutions are aware of it and provide in a pro-active way more information to the citizens, enhancing their processes and accountability systems.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Accountability to external partners

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)

Website.

If other, please specify
Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

The citizens ask for information to the institutions through our platform and this platform allows the citizens to evaluate the amount of answers received. In one spot, the citizens can make and manage access requests to public information. The institutions, on the other hand, can access the requests made to them, verify it’s evaluation and measure their answering capacity.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?

Secured protection on information

If other, please specify
What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?

Pressure through media outlets

If other, please specify
How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Reports on collected information

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?

On a website

If other, please specify
Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

An Environment NGO may ask to the Environment Ministry to make public a study of environmental impact and use the information to pose better environmental measures, in the ambit of an intervention of public space project.
A company may ask to the Financial Ministry to disclose information about all service agreements in a specific area and use this information to prepare more competitive commercial proposals.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

I’d turn this electronic tool in the official resource channel of public institutions for reception, management an answer to requests of public information from citizens, institutions or companies. That would ensure, immediately, a greater level of use of this platform by the public institutions, which are fundamental entities for our project’s success. Without that, disclosure and formation actions will be made and we’ll use the public pressure to stimulate the adoption by the worst positioned entities (between those that didn’t answer or didn’t answer efficiently to the public information requests.).

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Other

If other, please specify

Lack of answers from public entities to the requests made through the platform, demotivating the users.

Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?

The Feedback Store might be very useful to find similar solutions and collect ideas for complementary functionalities that we may include in our tool, having worked in other countries.

What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?
What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

The platform will have functionality segments that will allow the citizens, companies and institutions to indicate what they have done with the public information they’ve collected, thus measuring the impact of the feedback cycle in the creation of new ideas and participation. The best experiences will be shared, so the citizens understand the impact caused by good use of public information and State entities better comprehend its potential as partners in the data propagation and innovation support, to the civic participation e the optimizing of public policies, in a collaborative spirit with the civil society.