Access to Salaries of Public Officials
Although certain officials are obliged to submit financial disclosure forms to the Anticorruption Office, there is no obligation compelling the Anti-corruption office to publish them. To obtain the information, an applicant must submit a written request in which he or she specifies the reasons that he/she requires the information. The top officials (directors and managers) of state owned companies (100% owned), such as the post office, are required to disclose their exact gross salaries to the Anti-Corruption office. Regarding companies that are only partly financed by the state, senior officials are required to disclose their salaries only if their salaries are paid by the budget of the State. If the salary is paid from the budget of the company, they are not bound to disclose.
The city of São Paulo has shown leadership in disclosing the salaries of public officials and officials of public companies. Although under no legal obligation to do so, the City Hall of São Paulo has been publishing the salaries of public officials and officials of public companies since June 2008. Publishing the salaries was a response to a municipal law (Lei n 14.720/2008) which requires information – including the name, the position and the unit where the official works – to be published on the web. A decree signed by the Mayor implements the above mentioned law. As for public companies, they are mentioned in the Constitution and are defined in the decree as well. According to the decree: “II - Emprêsa Pública - a entidade dotada de personalidade jurídica de direito privado, com patrimônio próprio e capital exclusivo da União, criado por lei para a exploração de atividade econômica que o Govêrno seja levado a exercer por fôrça de contingência ou de conveniência administrativa podendo revestir-se de qualquer das formas admitidas em direito.”
On June 16, 2009, the Mayor of São Paulo decided that the new website, Keeping an Eye on Public Costs, should include a list of all civil servants attached to the municipality – including 147,000 employees of the central administration and another 15,000 employed indirectly – with their posts, salaries and places of work.
Two associations of civil servants (representing professors, engineers and architects) filed lawsuits against this decision. They were granted an urgent provisional decision by the Superior Court of São Paulo, and the information was taken off-line. The two associations argued that the disclosures would, among other things, breach their constitutional rights to privacy and security of person. The São Paulo Superior Court held that the information could put people at risk, and also accepted some procedural arguments. The Municipality appealed to the Supreme Court. 
On July 8, 2009, the Supreme Court upheld the Mayor’s decision to order the posting on-line of the salaries of all municipal civil servants. Justice Gilmar Mendes, who ruled on the case, referred to the fact that the Internet has transformed the citizen-State relationship, particularly in relation to social control over public expenditure. He recognized that in some cases, openness could legitimately be limited. However, in this case, the public interest in having the information was stronger than the rights of civil servants. Moreover, enforcing a judicial decision that undermined the Municipality’s policy of transparency in favour of individual rights would violate the “public order.”
In Canada the salaries of senior officials are public. However, the rules vary depending on the province. For instance, in Ontario, the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act requires the salaries of all provincial and broader public sector employees (hospitals, universities, agencies and so on) which are over $100,000 to be published online. In other provinces, salaries are not publicly disclosed.
The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) recently won a case against five large state-owned companies: Hungarian Power Companies Ltd, Hungarian State Holding Company, Szerencsejáték Zrt (state owned monopoly over gambling and the lottery), Postal Service and the Hungarian Railways. The case started when a journalist tried to find out the salaries of the chief executives and members of the executive boards of the companies. In this case, the executives refused to disclose the information. According to the Hungarian Data Act, the salary of someone is personal data, and, accordingly, shall not be made public unless the person gives his/her consent or disclosure is ordered by an Act. However, personal data relating to the sphere of the tasks of a person exercising public tasks and powers is considered to be public because of “public interest". The Court - in its final judgment – emphasized that a person’s salary relates to the sphere of his/her tasks, and if someone is paid by the state - even if the nexus is not related to the classic administration – he or she must accept some restriction on his/her privacy.
After the disclosure of the information, one of the defendants – the Hungarian State Holding Company, which is responsible for managing state assets- declared it would disclose the salary of the executives of every state-held company which it managed. Regarding the salary of public officials, a legal obligation exists to publicize proactively the salaries of members of the cabinet and under-secretaries. This information is posted on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.
Members of parliament and representatives of local governments must make a declaration of their financial situation, including all income, property, debts, etc. The declarations of the MPs are available on the site of the National Assembly.
However, only the most recent declarations are published, which does not allow comparison with previous years. It is only through such comparisons that corruption and other improprieties could be detected. Accordingly, the HCLU has filed requests for the declarations made in the past six years of certain MPs and local government representatives. Regarding local governments, proactive disclosure depends on the will of the local government, and few actually comply with their obligation to post asset and income declarations on their websites.
In Israel, the Treasury publishes an annual report that lists the salaries of several thousand employees in the public sector. For government employees an annual report is published online, with the salaries of all those who earn more than a certain amount (currently 25,000 NIS or about $6,000) per month. Statistical information about all salaries is included.
Disclosure requirements also apply to employees of government-controlled companies, companies controlled by local authorities, and companies or legal entities that receive more than 25% of their funding from the state (including, e.g., public health service providers) or that are established by law, even if they do not receive public funds (such as the lottery and the bar association). These entities are required to disclose the compensation of all employees; and the salaries of employees that exceed a certain threshold, which is lower than the threshold for public employees (currently 17,000 NIS – approximately USD $4,000 – per month) are made publicly available through an online database. Companies must disclose information regarding salary, any bonus or other remuneration, and pension and other deferred payments. The Treasury publishes two reports: one is very long and includes the full data on several thousand posts, and the other is a shorter report that includes just those entries that do not seem to be in line with the Treasury’s guidance. Although the reports do not include names, they do include positions, and it is easy for the media and the public to decipher to whom an entry refers (e.g., the deputy director of XYZ hospital).
The Electoral Tribunal ruled that the public has a right to know the salaries and other income of the national leadership of Mexico’s registered parties. The Court reasoned that:
All Mexican citizens enjoy, in the exercise of their political-electoral rights, a prerogative of receiving information about certain basic aspects of political parties … in order that they can decide whether to vote for [the parties] or not, whether to join them or not, insofar as such decisions form part of the citizen’s freedom to choose, which could not be fully exercised if access to such information were denied….
There are various types of rules concerning proactive transparency of salaries, extra payments and bonuses. For instance, there are several salary transparency systems for judges and they differ from those for prosecutors. It is also noteworthy that the salary of civil servants might be more transparent then one of external consultant. Due to various regulations, it is difficult to sum up all the existing laws. However, it can be concluded that the trend is towards more active transparency.
Section 211 of the Companies Act (New Zealand) sets out what is required to be included in companies’ annual reports. Section 211(1)(g) says:
(g) State the number of employees or former employees of the company, not being directors of the company, who, during the accounting period, received remuneration and any other benefits in their capacity as employees, the value of which was or exceeded $100,000 per annum, and must state the number of such employees or former employees in brackets of $10,000 ….
State-owned companies are subject to the same reporting requirements, but also have the overlay of the Official Information Act which allows anyone to ask for more information. Often more specific details about salaries etc are withheld on the grounds of employee privacy, or commercial prejudice – both of which are subject to a “public interest override”.
Article 40 of the Constitution requires periodic publication of the income earned by government officials in relation to their offices and Article 41 requires all public officials including those who administer or manage government funds or organizations to provide a sworn statement as to their income or assets acquired during their terms of service. The Administration Attorney issued an opinion that the public should have access to data concerning the salaries of public officials. According to the Attorney, as the information on salaries is not included in the personal files of each public official, the restriction established on individual files does not apply to such data. The opinion established that the general institutional expenses on salaries (planillas) are public, including data on salaries for each specific position. Access to such information is considered necessary to ensure accountability and citizens’ control.
The exact salary, other forms of income and/or savings must be declared. Declarations of assets are publicly available on the websites on the respective institutions.
Slovene National TV is covered by the ATI Act because it is a public service contractor. The Information Commissioner has decided a few cases ordering SNTV to disclose information, including salaries of the management and top ten paid journalists.
New York State. Each government agency (state and local, including cities, villages, school districts, etc.) is required to maintain and make available “a record setting forth the name, public office address, title and salary of every officer or employee of the agency.” In addition, records indicating overtime pay or other stipends are also accessible by name of the employee.
 Information provided by Nicolás Dassen, Professor at the University of Palermo teaching Legal Ethics and Corruption Prevention.
 Salaries are available at: http://deolhonascontas.prefeitura.sp.gov.br/index.htm
 Article 19 press release, Brazil: Supreme Court OKs Publication of Civil Servants’ Salaries, July 14, 2009
 Article 19 press release, Brazil: Supreme Court OKs Publication of Civil Servants’ Salaries, July 14, 2009
 Information supplied by Tivadar Hüttl, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.
 Information supplied by Roger Vleugels, FOI specialist.
 Information supplied by Natasa Pirc, Information Commissioner of Slovenia.