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Accountability and Social Control: A Santa Catarina State´s Website Transparency Analysis

Thu, July 12, 12:00 to 12:45pm, Room, Hallway


Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) evolution has been and continues to be fundamental in public information disclosure process. This trend, combined with legislation publication and regulation, contributes to a better information structure. This is a challenge for public management in democracy´s development. In this sense, e-government projects (e-gov) is characterized by using ICT both for internal operational governmental processes , as well as facilitating services sharing and information provision, approaching government and civil society.
More than providing services and information by governments, e-gov has a role to improve government performance using these tools (PINHO, IGLESIAS, SOUZA, 2005). e-gov seeks, in addition to services provision to citizen, construction of accountability, which contemplates in its dimensions the transparency of public acts and the effective population participation in the democratic process. Accountability is characterized by making public workers responsible (Heidemann, 2010, Ceneviva, 2006, Rocha, 2007) and extends to citizens through social control.
The transparency of public actions is regulated in Brazilian legislation since the Federal Constitution of 1988 (BRASIL, 1988), and has been highlighted by the Complementary Law No. 101 (BRASIL, 2000), Federal Complementary Law No. 131 (BRASIL, 2009) and of Law 12,527 (BRAZIL, 2011). Bresser Pereira (1997) highlights the importance of public information transparency in the democratic process, emphasizing that it allows society reaction especially when public financial information is disclosed.
Therefore, in order to develop and improve public transparency processes, governments are able to use ICT tools to reach the citizen in a more agile and efficient way, such as electronic portals. Several national surveys show the evolution of these tools, from the municipal to the national sphere. However, there are still many limitations and aspects to be developed in these websites (PINHO, 2006; ALLEGRETTI, PLATT NETO, 2011; CRUZ, et all, 2012; CAMPOS PAIVA, GOMES, 2013). In addition, acting according to legal formalities does not necessarily mean effective public transparency by states (RAUPP, 2011). Nevertheless, according to Rezende, Cunha and Bevilacqua (2010), the complexity of accounting regime applied to public accounts should consider as a possible obstacle to citizen's understanding and, consequently, to social control.
This study case analyzes the State of Santa Catarina Transparency Website as an instrument of accountability and social control. This is a qualitative descriptive research, whose data collection took place through observation and interviews, as well as documentary analysis.
The website was implemented aiming access to public information in a clear and objective way, providing effective transparency and citizen participation in public policies. Recently reformulated and with a new technological platform, it shows itself as an instrument to monitor government fiscal accounts that goes beyond compliance with legal provisions.