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The Law on Transparency Comes into Force

An independent institution, namely the Ombudsman’s Office, is to be responsible for and will carry out the procedures of this external evaluation and must also present to the Parliament of Catalonia an annual report

02/07/2015 11:07
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Law 19/2014 on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance, approved by the Parliament of Catalonia last December, came into force on 1 July 2015. On the occasion of the law’s taking effect, a new Transparency Portal has been presented in Catalonia, this taking the form of a website that will make available to citizens integrated information from all branches of the Catalan public administration.

The Commission for Transparency and Access to Public Information will be in charge of the implementation of the law. The coordinated activities of the Commission, which comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Governance and Institutional Relations, have been grouped into ten lines of work: 

Strategic plan for transparency policies, 2015-2017. With the participation of the Ministries of the Government of Catalonia and of the appropriate organisms and bodies, the plan identifies the obligations deriving from the law and its effects in each of the obligatory areas, in addition to planning the actions to be carried out in order to guarantee the proper implementation of the law.

Transparency Portal. This is the basic and general instrument used to make available to citizens integrated information from all branches of the public administration. The Portal is in the form of an online platform publicising and providing access to all available information and giving links to websites of the branches of the administration and other organisations comprising the platform. Moreover, with regard to the specific public information offered by the Government of Catalonia Administration, the present Gencat Transparency Portal has been updated in order to adapt it so that it complies with the stipulations, both formal and in terms of content, of the Law. Furthermore, the participation portal, Participa Gencat, is the tool that is to facilitate interaction between the Administration and citizens by way of citizen participation. It is based on proposals presented by the Government to citizens who can then discuss them and make contributions accordingly. This will enable greater improvement in governance by means of using the new technologies and making public decision-making more transparent, as well as gleaning the views and positions of citizens concerning certain public policies of the Government with a view to ensuring their greater success. 

Exercising the right of access to public information. An electronic form has been produced by means of which citizens can make applications from the Transparency Portal, this device being based on the incorporation of a new service in the Gencat Services and Procedures Platform for Online Processing (GSIT) known as SAIP (Request for Access to Public Information). Citizens may also present these requests in person or by any other legally acceptable means. 

Interministerial criteria regarding active publicising obligations. The Ministries of the Government of Catalonia have worked together to establish corporate guidelines and criteria in the sphere of active publicity. 

Information Units. The general secretaries of each ministry and organism of the Government of Catalonia have designated an information unit to coordinate, communicate and advise the units of the ministry and citizens in the sphere of active publicity and access to public information. 

Creation of a Commission Guaranteeing the Right of Access to Public Information. The Commission is the independent professional organ tasked with resolving conflicts and formulating a doctrinal line on the application of limits which might exclude or restrict the right of access to public information. 

Regulatory implementation and legal effects. Included in this section are activities related with regulatory development deriving from Law 19/2014. 

Programme of support for local organisations. This includes economic and financial support as well as legal and technological advice, especially addressed to those organisations with fewer resources and less technical and operative capacity for applying Law 9/2014. In order to bring these measures into effect, a Framework Agreement has been signed. This Agreement has made possible the establishment of the Transparent Governments Network of Catalonia. 

Collaborating in the obligations of active publicity of foundations and associations. The obligations of active publicity carried out by foundations and associations in compliance with their specific legislation come into effect when they are incorporated into the Transparency Portal. 

Publicising and training activities. The Catalan School of Public Administration, working together with the Commission for Transparency and Access to Public Information, the Office for Self-Government Development and local organisations, has designed a training programme, a good part of which is now operational. 

Evaluation and surveys. In accordance with the Strategic Plan which is to be approved by the Government, a system of permanent assessment of public services must be established. Follow-up and evaluation will be carried out from two standpoints: internal and external. An independent institution, namely the Ombudsman’s Office, is to be responsible for and will carry out the procedures of this external evaluation and must also present to the Parliament of Catalonia an annual report on the observance of the obligations established in the Law on Transparency. 

For a more transparent Administration

One of the aims of Law 19/2014, of 29 December, on Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance, is to recover the trust of citizens by means of a more transparent Administration with regard to decision-making and movements of public money, while consolidating the right of access to information as a subjective right of citizens that may only be restricted when it affects rights and interests expressly stipulated in the Law, for example, personal intimacy. 

The Ombudsman’s Office will present to the Parliament of Catalonia an annual report on observance of the obligations established by the Law on Transparency.

Account of the implementation and development of the new Catalan transparency regulation