Espacios Abiertos unveils Transparency Barometer
A lack of transparency in public governance and access to information was one of the key public opinion concerns in 2020, according to an analysis conducted by Puerto Rico-based nonprofit Espacios Abiertos.
The finding is reflected in the newly unveiled Transparency Barometer, a digital tool created by the organization, which spans more than 400 stories about transparency published by the news media in Puerto Rico.
The Transparency Barometer is a free digital repository for those interested in monitoring and learning more about the topic of transparency in Puerto Rico through the examination of published news stories where transparency has been mentioned or required of the government sector.
The barometer also aims to measure systemic changes toward greater transparency, accountability and participation in Puerto Rico.
“The high volume of information reflected this year on the Transparency Barometer shows that citizens are increasingly interested that government be more transparent in all of its processes, that there be more instances of public participation and the integration of communities into public governance,” said Espacios Abiertos Public Policy analyst María Mercedes Rodríguez-Rivera.
“We urge citizens to use the repository, discuss it, and even share and draw attention to these and other instances that require more transparency in government management,” Rodríguez-Rivera said.
According to the analysis, in 2020 there were:
- 121 instances (average of two weekly) in which news headlines included the word “transparency;”
- 62 instances (average of one weekly) in which the word “government” was related to transparency, where the government was asked for transparency in its management or the different agencies alluded to complying with or exercising it;
- 27 instances (average of two per month) in which COVID-19 was associated to the word transparency or lack thereof in the handling of the pandemic;
- 25 instances (average of two per month) in which the word “information” was related to issues of transparency and government information requests or instances when the government and its dependencies promised to provide information as part of their commitment to transparency; and,
- 22 instances (average of two per month) in which the word “lack” was directly or indirectly related with transparency issues.
Still, Rodríguez-Rivera noted that there were instances of progress this year on the issue of transparency.
Examples of such progress include: the launch of a public information access tool on the Department of Economic Development and Commerce’s website, which provides details about beneficiaries of tax incentive concessions; the fact that the issue of transparency was included on the government platforms of all political parties and much emphasis was placed during the campaign on this issue as an antidote to corruption; and the development of a monitoring tool by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico on its website, which offers updates, reports and details on the use of COVID-19 money.
“An open government is possible in Puerto Rico, and to achieve this you have to have the will and the real commitment to do so,” said Espacios Abiertos Executive Director Cecille Blondet-Passalacqua.
“An open government, in addition to being a more democratic one, will result in a more just and equitable Puerto Rico for all,” she said.