Human Resources for the Digital Transformation of the Legislative

Read Alison Souza’s text from Sindilegis regarding the human resources for the digital transformation of the legislative

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My name is Alison Souza and I am the president of Sindilegis, the Union that represents the Public Servants of the House of Representatives, the Federal Senate and the Court of Auditors in Brazil. I’m going to share with you the importance of public servants in the digital transformation process of public organizations. 


In my case, as I speak of the Brazilian Legislature, we know that the Legislative Power in Brazil has two important functions, that of drafting laws and that of oversight of acts in the Executive power, of the President of the Republic, and I highlight here the acts related to public budget management. 


The challenge about drafting is always to improve the quality of the law. It is clear that the definition of what can be considered a good law is quite subjective. There are formal aspects that we must respect for a good legislative production and, without a doubt, the material aspect of the law, its content is the most important. It can be said that a good law is one that seeks to promote social justice, economic development, and the strengthening of the democratic institutions. In order to achieve these objectives, which are very complex in light of the tensions and conflicts that exist within society, MPs must listen to as many people and civil organizations as possible. It is only through the broad debate that it becomes possible to know in depth the problem or challenge to be faced by the society that is to be resolved. 


On the other hand, in addition to the correct identification of the problem or challenge to be faced, it is also through an exhaustive debate that it becomes possible to choose the best legislative solution for each case. Therefore, only the effective participation of the population and organisations can guarantee that the effects of the chosen legislative solution are well dimensioned. Perhaps here is the great role of digital transformation, when it comes to lawmaking. It is to guarantee greater participation, it is to ensure that the various social disputes are found in the legislative process, in a way that produces a good law. There are, within Congress, two types of agents: the political agent, who are our parliamentarians, and we have the technical agent, who are public servants. It is the public servant who knows the legislative process in depth, the instruments at his disposal, who have the greatest responsibility for the process of digital transformation. On the one hand, it must build the technological solutions necessary to guarantee social participation. It will ensure that citizens get closer to MPs and bring their opinions, perspectives, and concerns to them. 


It is also the public servant, who, collecting all the social contributions, is able to analyse this information, confront it, compare it, in order to produce materials that can be used as input for MPs. Public servants are able to collect information to organise it, and translate it into input for the legislator. Therefore, it is the public servant who plays this role of bridge between parliamentarians and Brazilian society. Public servants are the actors who instrumentalise this relationship. 


Especially now, in the face of the pandemic, in which people are isolated and we have difficulty meeting face-to-face. It is up to the Brazilian Congress to oversee the acts of the Executive Power and the President of the Republic, especially with regard to the management of the public budget. The digital transformation has a very relevant role in it, which is the role of making all this information related to the execution of the public budget into useful information for the consumption of any Brazilian citizen. The public servant has a very important role to play, because they are knowledgeable about the technological solutions in the institution, which manage all resources, the public policy expenses, how they are carried out, their indicators and the effectiveness of a public policy. All of this is known by the government’s technical staff. 


We know that it is also up to the Brazilian Legislative Power to inspect the acts of the Executive Power,  and the President of the Republic. The acts produced by the Executive Power, by the President of the Republic, especially with regard to the management of the public budget, the effectiveness of public policies, are often complex and difficult to understand by ordinary citizens. The digital transformation can play a big role, which is by making these data palatable, easily consumed by any Brazilian citizen. This is what we call transparency. The main role of digital transformation is to give transparency to this whole set of numbers and information that matter to each Brazilian, and the public servant has a central role in this. 


They are the ones who have the expertise about the technological solutions that manage all of these numbers, this data, this information and they are able to gather this information, organise it, treat it and put it in a simple way, so that any Brazilian citizen can consume this information. It is only in this way that the taxpayers understand the acts of the ruler, the governor, the mayor or the President of the Republic. For example, now here in Brazil and around the world, we are facing a pandemic. The pandemic required governments to release resources of astronomical values. We have had financial aid packages for companies, for people, for workers, broadly perhaps as never before in the recent history of capitalism, and this means that there is a need to control these expenditures. 


It needs to be effective and to help whoever it’s needed to help, because if it fails to do that, there will certainly be enormous difficulty in rebuilding society and the economy. 


Therefore, it is imperative that there is transparency in the use of all these resources and that is something that digital transformation can offer us and public servants have a central role in this digital transformation linked to transparency. Well, then, I think that this is the great contribution of digital transformation in the legislative world. On the one hand, to guarantee good quality legislative production through social participation, on the other hand, to ensure the transparency of government actions, so that there is an effective oversight of the good use of public resources, also by the population itself. In this sense, as Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira teaches us, it is the public servant who holds the technical knowledge of the institution, it is they who master the tools that can contribute, on the one hand to social participation, on the other hand, to transparency. Therefore, the public servant has a central role in the digital transformation of the legislative, here in Brazil and around the world.

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