Every Open Government that aims to achieve high quality levels will need transparency. This also applies to the autonomous communities in Spain. What is the current transparency status of these regional governments?
We understand transparency as the set of procedures by which citizens are aware of the decisions taken by public entities. Transparency is part of the three basic pillars on which the concept of Open Government is based, together with public participation and open data.
In a country like Spain, a state organized in territorial autonomous communities, provinces and municipalities, to have a full picture of the levels of transparency of whole nation we must also take a look at the levels of transparency for each geographical and administrative region. Therefore, in this article we focus on the transparency of the Spanish autonomous communities.
Transparency legal framework in the Spanish autonomous communities
The need for a legislative framework that regulates transparency in Spain arises from the public perception of the growing corruption scandals, requiring some social actors the need to promote legal initiatives against these scandals to foster democratic quality.
For this reason, and after 2 years of effective processing in 2013 Ley 19/2013, de 9 de diciembre de Transparencia, Acceso a la Información Pública y Buen Gobierno went into effect. Until then, Spain was the only european country with over one million citizens lacking legislation in this matter.
As for the autonomous communities, they were given until December 2015 to adapt to this new legal system, specifically the Balearic Islands, Extremadura and Navarra, which were the only 3 autonomous communities that had a legislation on transparency prior to Law 19/2013.
If we analyze the different transparency autonomous laws, we must mention the lack of legislation in the Basque Country, a deficiency which is currently in the process of being corrected, since there is already a proposed bill in progress. It should also be noted that Ley 10/2019 de 10 de abril de transparencia y de participación de la Comunidad de Madrid went into effect last January.
Initiatives for the evaluation of transparency in the autonomous communities
1.- INCAU Transparency International Spain
To measure the status of transparency in the Spanish autonomous communities, thanks to the initiative of Transparency International Spain, the first Transparency Index of the Autonomous Communities (INCAU) was published in 2010, which from then until 2016 would be drawn up every two years.
¿How is the transparency of the autonomous communities evaluated?
Incau evaluates 80 indicators collected from 6 different transparency areas, which are:
- Active transparency and information about the autonomous community
- Website, relations with citizens and society, and public participation.
- Economic-Financial transparency.
- Transparency in hiring services, agreements, subsidies and service costs.
- Transparency in land management, urban planning and public works.
- Right to access to information.
From the final INCAU, published in 2016, we can draw some interesting conclusions to help us analyze the current situation of the autonomous communities of Spain.
In 2016, the autonomous communities obtained an average grade of 94 out of 100, improving the figures of the previous INCAU of 2014 (88.6).
Which are the most transparent Spanish autonomous communities? And which are the less transparent?
The regions that obtained the highest grade were the Basque Country, Balearic Islands and Catalonia; while those that obtained the lowest grade were Navarra and Extremadura. It’s interesting that Euskadi is the leading autonomous community when, as we mentioned earlier, did not have a law in this matter before.
Among the aspects in which the communities stand out, the best valued are the relations within citizens and society, the right to access information and transparency in terms of land management, urban planning and public works.
2. Statistics of the Transparency and Good Governance Council
This state entity periodically publishes the results of decisions on complaints received by the State and its autonomous communities, where both sides have a signed agreement.
Until November 2019, 3471 incidences were registered including claims, allegations, complaints and suggestions, inquiries regarding law enforcement and general information for citizens.
Regarding claims, numbers have increased in the last 4 years, from 517 to 1648 between 2015 and 2019.
Which autonomous communities make the most claims regarding transparency?
789 (47.9%) out of 1648 registered claims come from the following autonomous communities:
- Community of Madrid (372).
- Castile-La Mancha (120).
- Extremadura (83).
The least active regions were La Rioja (26) and Ceuta (3).
It should also be noted that of all complaints accepted during the period 2015 – 2019, 72% were considered, 25% were dismissed and 3% were suspended.
According to this report, it is also striking that most claims are made by men, namely 78% in 2019, making this gender gap a challenge to consider for the future.
In short, we must highlight how the Spanish autonomous communities are evolving positively in aspects related to transparency.
Proof of this is most have adopted laws in this matter, as well as the positive results of the researches carried out by Transparency International Spain and the Council of Transparency and Good Governance, which both depend on the Spanish Government.
At OGoov we contribute in the transparency process of the autonomous communities of Spain by developing and implementing the most suitable module in our Open Government solution.
With this tool you can publish any performance transparency indicators you wish to follow, with special attention to those established by Transparency International Spain. If you are interested in checking how it works, you can try our demo to see everything it can offer to citizens, businesses and society.