Administrative Information and Proactive Publication
In most countries, public institutions are required proactively to publish information about their administrative functions, including structure and organization (organizational chart, functions, powers); decrees, policies and regulations of general application; budget, procurement and financial information; some information about salary scales; and contact information, at least for the person responsible for providing information to the public.
Recommendation: We (the website’s editors) recommend that laws should expressly require each agency to make information available proactively by maintaining the information in a public office in or near the agency and by posting the information on its website.
A Survey of ATI Laws in 26 European Countries found that the following categories of information must be made proactively available in at least the given number of countries:
- Information relating to the organizational structure of a public body, including information on personnel, names and contact information of public officials - at least 17 countries;
- Budget information (projected budget, budget expenditures) - at least 11 countries (others note that publication of budget and other financial information is often available from a centralized source);
- Information on functions, activities, decisions taken and formal acts issued - at least 17 countries;
- Information on decision-making procedures and mechanisms for public participation in decision-making – at least 17 countries;
- Contact information for the information officer and/or information on the mechanisms for accessing information - at least 18 countries.
- An index or register of information held, or of the classes of information held, by each public body - at least 14 countries.
- Information on public procurement procedures both before and after the issuing of a contract - at least 11 countries under the access to information and/or public procurement laws, with additional countries having requirements of transparency in their public procurement legislation.
Only five of the countries surveyed require no or little proactive publication: the UK (which does not require, but does recommend, proactive disclosure), Sweden (whose law, last updated in 1976, simply does not address proactive disclosure), and Georgia, Germany and Montenegro.
A number of countries have more detailed provisions in their access laws in addition to the broad categories of information mentioned above. These provisions are often complemented by additional requirements of publicity to be found in other legislation, such as e-FOIA laws. The publicity requirements for public procurement are just one example of a growing trend of regulations that require specific aspects of a government’s activities to be made public.
A number of countries in both western and eastern Europe are in the process of reforming the current rules to include greater transparency of information by electronic means with requirements that information be posted on the websites of bodies obliged under the ATI law. An example of this trend is Hungary, which in 2005 adopted an extensive e-FOIA regime. Other countries with longer standing access to information provisions do not have specific requirements for electronic publication, but in practice make large amounts of information public.
State bodies increasingly post the above listed information on their websites. Others publish the information in the official gazette or other media, or make the information available on their premises.
While most countries require publication of procurement procedures and contracts awarded, Ecuador goes considerably further: it requires each institution to publish a list of companies and individuals which have breached contracts with that institution, as well as accountability mechanisms, details of any foreign and national loans, and the source of the resources to repay these loans.
Most countries require publication of salary scales. In addition, Argentina, the DR and Peru require publication of asset declarations; and in Argentina, Colombia and Peru, high level officials are required to publish any economic activities that might present conflicts of interest, although it seems that this information is not actually published in Peru, and not much is published in Argentia. Ecuador has particularly stringent requirements for monitoring travel expenditures, including the publication of per-diems for, reports on, and reasons for approval of, trips of public officials. The DR, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay all require publication of beneficiaries of social programs, subsidies, scholarships and retirement funds.
The ATI laws of the DR and Panama specify that the name and contact information of the person responsible for ensuring access to information must be published, and Mexico also requires publication of the location of the unit responsible for providing information to the public, as well as of citizen participation mechanisms and any other relevant information to answer the public’s most frequently asked questions.
Most countries require their institutions, including the judiciary and legislature, to publish their decrees, policies and regulations of general application.
Laws on Public Contracts require agencies to comply with general obligations of transparency concerning procurements.
You will find detailed country information that is not regularly updated in our Archive.