The main function of the municipal legislative power, in Brazil, is the voting of laws within the competence of the municipality. Weekly, in plenary sessions and public hearings, proposals that affect the lives of citizens and local businesses and organisations are discussed and voted on. However, citizen participation in these sessions is still far from what is desirable, especially now, with the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to increase transparency in the legislative process and the participation of citizens in public hearings, the actions coordinated by the Legislative Power at the Federal level have contributed to the digital transformation of legislative houses in Brazilian municipalities.
Since 2007, the Nova Friburgo City Council has used the Legislative Process Support System (SAPL), to create and process legislative proposals and to record the legal norms approved by councilors. The entire process can be followed by any citizen, on the internet.
SAPL also records the presence of councilors in sessions, the results of votes for each project and the channel of the recording of each session, on the City Council’s YouTube channel. In addition, it is possible to consult who are the councilors of the current and previous legislatures, what projects they are proposing, the permanent committees they are part of and the opinions they have issued on the proposals, the composition of the board of directors, in short, monitor all legislative work.
The SAPL was created by Interlegis, a Federal Senate program aimed at other Brazilian Legislative Houses and which has existed since 1997.
Complementing the SAPL database, all legal norms produced since the creation of the City Council were digitalised, as well as their indexing by subject, with daily updates. At the same address, the Bank of Ideas is available, where it is possible for anyone to send a suggestion for the creation or amendment of municipal legislation.
Another tool made available by Interlegis, the Portal Modelo, is used by the Nova Friburgo City Council for the dissemination of news and access to various services, such as: Transparency Portal, Official Gazette, Bidding Notices, Ombudsman and Citizen Information System.
On the Transparency Portal it is possible to obtain budget and financial data since 2012, updated daily. Including accountability reports, payroll data and others, as required by the Brazilian Transparency Law (Law 131/2009) and the Access to Information Law (Law 12527/2011).
More recently, the City Council joined e-Democracia and is using the interactive hearings module, which allows the monitoring of live public hearings, via the internet, and the citizen participation by sending questions, comments or suggestions in real time. e-Democracia was created by the Brazilian House of Representatives and is distributed by Interlegis, based on a partnership between it and the Brazilian Federal Senate.
Another recent action was the adhesion to the Fala.Br platform, the integrated platform for access to information and ombudsman developed by the Federal Comptroller General (CGU). The system allows any citizen to issue requests for public information and manifestations, all in a single environment.
Integrated with Fala.Br, the Painel Resolveu gathers information about the ombudsman’s manifestations that the Public Administration receives daily on that platform and allows searching, examining and comparing indicators in a quick, dynamic and interactive way.
The next step, in this journey of digital transformation of the Nova Friburgo City Council, will be the change to the Electronic Legislative Process, eliminating the processing of paper bills. The SAPL is already prepared and the Councilors and administrative civil servants are receiving their digital certificates. This change will bring greater agility in the processing of projects and savings in the purchase of consumables.
We are overcoming cultural barriers and operational difficulties to promote citizen engagement in the legislative process and transparency in the municipal legislature.
[header image source: unsplash]
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