Minas Gerais Government Transparency Portal
Minas Gerais Government Transparency Portal is an instrument of transparency and control of state governmental actions by its citizens. The data available on the portal allows citizens to inspect and monitor public expenses of the government, contributing to greater transparency and prevention of corruption. Since its creation, the portal has been improved and complies to regulations and standards of public information and has a user friendly interface.
The Portal of Transparency is an electronic tool of Minas Gerais State that allows transparency and control of state governmental actions by its citizens, displaying public data from the State and municipalities, offering search tools based on the Law of access to information.
It complies with all Brazilian legal requirements related to financial rules and regulations of fiscal management responsibility and constitutional rights of public information access to all.
The Portal was installed in 2009 by the Secretary of Revenue of Minas Gerais in a partnership with Companhia de Tecnologia da Informação do Estado de Minas Gerais (Prodemge). It contains data and information such as expenses and revenue, public deficits, tax transfers, personal expenses, payments, and fiscal citizenship.
In 2015, the Controladoria Geral do Estado de Minas Gerais (CGE), the body responsible for managing the portal, decided to restructure it aiming to increase the amount of public data available by automatic search engines and improve user-friendliness. In order to make it possible, CGE signed a contract with Prodemge to develop a new layout and insert search tools. Now the portal is an essential tool of governmental transparency that contains much more data and information than its prior version. New features also include a search tool of employee travel expenses, income from partnerships, contracts and acquisitions, information on cars owned by the government, budgets and other.
In terms of the portal layout and usability, interactive graphics, maps and the possibility to export all data to social media were developed with the new update. A call service to answer citizens’ inquiries was also made available in addition to the existing channels.
Transparency plays an important role in the fight against corruption allowing greater responsibility and increased disclosures by public managers as well as control from citizens, researchers and media. Therefore CGE is working continuously to make more data available on the portal.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Minas Gerais Government Transparency Portal is an innovative initiative as it is the first time the State of Minas Gerais has published such a large amount of public data on various areas of government spending.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Unrestricted access to data published on the portal is ensured by establishing relationships with necessary stakeholders - public managers. Prodemge, a State ITC, is responsible for the development, hosting and maintenance of the portal.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The portal allows the exercise of accountability and control of the government by the citizens. Journalists are given access to data and information useful for their work. Researchers benefit from a large amount of open data that can be used for research. Public managers can use data published on the portal to facilitate planning, monitoring, assessment and auditing.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The main measurable results of the portal are the increased number of users accessing information as well as increased transparency of the portal. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a leap in the number of times the portal was accessed (from 550.689 in 2015 to 1.217.483 in 2016, after the new version of the portal was launched). In 2018 it reached 1.696.489. The user data shows a similar trend: 343.070 in 2015, 739.468 in 2016 and 933.511 in 2018.
In terms of transparency of the portal, it is measured by the The Transparency Ranking, which is a Ministerio Publico Federal project that evaluates different portals from 5667 cities, 26 States and Distrito Federal (the capital city). The ranking measures the level of compliance with Brazilian transparency laws on a scale from 1 to 10. In 2015, this analysis graded the portal as 7,8 transparent, which went up to 9,2 in 2016 – after the portal was updated.
Challenges and Failures
Technical restrictions: during the most part of the process of updating the portal, CGE had a three-person team working on introducing new search capabilities and at the same time maintaining the portal. Budget restrictions: CGE has identified more than 30 updates that could enhance the potential of the portal even more. The main one is to develop a Business Intelligence (BI) tool, that would permit the creation of personalized search based on information available on the portal, expanding the possibility of crossing data and analysis, as well as the improvement of data visualization through powerful graphic resources. In order to briefly substitute the lack of a BI, advanced research tools were implemented so users could freely research within a minimum parameter they chose.
Conditions for Success
The main condition for the success of the Transparency Portal is the partnership with sponsors and strategic government sectors – the State Governor and the State General Controller. In a context of lack of resources, innovation has to be prioritized in a range of State projects and actions. As open government is a new trend,public sector leaders have to believe in the value of proactive transparency, which beyond legal matters also involves a cultural change in public organizations. Another key condition is the existence of technological and human resources that support and understand the issue. Maintaining large database requires a strong data backup and a team able to translate technical data into a user friendly language. Therefore, budget resources must be able available.
CGE would like such portals to be implemented in as many Brazilian municipalities and States as possible, that’s why CGE is always willing to share its experience with other authorities of public administration. Prodemge is also available to share information and know-how on the implementation of the portal.
When CGE team was asked to update the Portal in 2015, it identified that the search tools were developed by Prodemge and not by the client or system user, as it’s usually done when developing a system. It was decided that CGE (the client) would build the portal negotiation rules as well as detailed specifications, including fields and tables to be used. This made teamwork easier by avoiding information gaps and ensured product delivery is consistent with demand.