Transparency in public companies

Transparency in public companies: highlights

Public companies are an important part of the operation of society. In addition, for their own public nature they must be exemplary in terms of transparency. For this reason we believe it is appropriate to make a radiography of the most relevant aspects related to the transparency of these public companies.

Within the lines that make up the Open Government, we find transparency, understood as an exercise of accountability to citizens, so that it is perfectly informed about all the actions they are taking, as well as those that are they find planned for the future.

By its very nature, it is important to measure where national public companies are in terms of transparency. To do this, first of all we will talk about the impact that these companies have on Spanish society, and then go into their evaluation in terms of transparency.

The panorama of Spanish public companies

To get an idea of ​​the situation of public companies in Spain, we turn to the results presented by the working group on their governance, carried out by the Foundation for Research on Law and Business (FIDE, by its acronym in Spanish).

According to this report, if we add the total number of existing public institutions, we obtain a figure of 18,754. Of these, 2,282, which correspond to 12% of the total are commercial companies or corporate public entities.

In terms of employment, the public sector employs 142,000 people; its total turnover is 27.6 billion euros, its debt is 63 billion euros, which corresponds to 5.4% of national GDP. In addition, in 2019, 54% of public investments are made through these public companies.

Are public companies transparent?

Seeing the relevance of public companies within the complex universe that is the national public sector, it is necessary to study the degree of transparency that they present as indicative of their commitment to the progress of citizens, and society in general.

This analysis aims to raise public awareness of the importance of implementing actions for transparency that bring these closer to the population, generating a relationship of mutual trust.

This research was carried out by the non-governmental organization Transparency International Spain in the Public Companies Transparency Index (INDEP, by its acronym in Spanish), which took as representative sample the 45 most important public companies in the country.

Evaluation criteria

To materialize this index, a total of 60 indicators were taken into account, which are grouped into 6 sets, which are:

  • Active transparency and information about the company:
    • Information on charges, personnel and compensation of the company: 6 indicators.
    • Regulations, organization, planning and assets of the company: 9 indicators.
    • Governing organizations, functioning and suitability: 6 indicators.
  • Relations with society, users or stakeholders and quality of services: 8 indicators.
  • Economic – financial transparency:
    • Accounting and budgetary information: 6 indicators.
    • Transparency in the income, expenses and indebtedness of the company: 6 indicators.
  • Transparency in contracts and agreements:
    • Hiring: 8 indicators.
    • Agreements and parcels: 1 indicator.

Each of these indicators will be awarded a score between 0 and 1 according to the following criteria:

  • The information referred to in the Indicator is published in full on the web: 1 point.
  • The indicator information is partially published on the web: 0.5 points.
  • The information is not found on the web: 0 points.

One aspect to consider, and which the authors of the study clarify, is that the quality of the data they publish, as well as the procedures for managing them, have not been taken into account.

Transparency in public companies: highlights

INDEP Results

The results of the Transparency Index of Public Companies show us that there is a wide margin for improvement in this facet. To do this, we only have to go to the total average score of the 45 companies studied, which is 45.3 points out of 100.

The general ranking of public companies

The companies that pass the approved

Of all the companies evaluated, only 19 have passed the approved, that is, they have exceeded 50 points. Of these stand out the Center for Industrial Technological Development (CDTI), with 74.2 points, ADIF, with 73.3 and Engineering and Transport Economics, with 72.5 points.

On the other hand, between 60 and 70 points are 13 public companies, among which are, Correos, AENA and Renfe.

Finally, with a score between 50 and 60 there are 3 companies: SEPI, Port Authority of Bilbao and State Lotteries and Betting.

The companies that have suspended

This is where we find most of the audited companies. Among these suspensions, we can make a differentiation according to the rating.

Those closest to the approved one, 40 or more points, form a group of 6 companies. Among them is the news agency EFE, Red.es or the port authorities of Barcelona or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

There are 9 public companies that have achieved between 30 and 40 points; here we can find Spanish Radio and Television (RTVE) and the National Coin and Stamp Factory (FNMT).

Therefore, there are 11 companies that have been rated with a score below 30. Among them, Paradores de Turismo, a significant proportion of port authorities also attracts attention.

The results by groups of indicators

If we focus on the classification of transparency indicators described above, the different groups obtain the following results:

  • Active transparency and information about the company: 48.6 points.
  • Relations with society, users or interested parties and quality of services: 49.7 points.
  • Economic – financial transparency: 44 points.
  • Transparency in contracts and agreements: 49.3 points.
  • Right of access to information: 4 indicators: 36.1 points.
  • Prevention of corruption and compliance in transparency and good governance: 30.6 points.

Hence, it is striking that none of the groups of indicators can approve. In addition, there is a considerable leap between those with the highest grade and those with the lowest grade, the low rating in aspects of corruption, which, on the other hand, is one of the main concerns of the population.

It is clear that much remains to be done in terms of transparency within Spanish public companies. Despite this little positive conclusion, the authors detect hope, and it is that the companies themselves improved their figures in the period between the previous questionnaire they sent and the final results.

From OGoov we want to contribute to the improvement of transparency in public companies by making available our Open Government solution, which has a specific transparency module with which to manage the different indicators, also presenting its information in interoperable formats that they allow reuse.

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