• Submitted By: lin07
  • Date Submitted: 11/27/2008 2:05 AM
  • Category: Social Issues
  • Words: 3777
  • Page: 16
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Accountability and Open Government in Uruguay: the need for a Freedom of
Information Law1
“Sunshine is the best antiseptic”
Louis Brandeis

Uruguay is placed 25th in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index and is better positioned than “developed” countries such as Greece or Italy (Transparency International 2007). Uruguay is considering a set of reforms that are part of a worldwide trend for better governance. These reforms arguably include an open government policy and freedom of information (FOI) law (OECD, 2005) The policy making process is very difficult in Uruguay, to a large extent due to key policy makers, veto paralysis and unobservable political moves (Bergara et al 2004). Uruguay is now trying to pass a FOI Law.

Reforms in Uruguay were much more symbolic rather than real. (Panizza 2005). There is increasing discontent among citizens about the poor performance of the state sector. Central state public servants can only be dismissed on very narrow grounds through an arduous process and there are no evaluation frameworks for most of those public servants (Ramos et al 2002). Accountability exists, in a very limited sense of the word. Social accountability (in terms of access to central and
local government information by the citizens) is only formally possible through the
courts or by the “grace” of the Administration.

Governance and Information
Kauffman, Kray and Zoido Lobaton (1999) make the case for the connection between governance and development. This connection is less than perfect, but there seems to be consensus on the fact that a well-managed and accountable government, is more likely to perform well than a non-accountable one. Voice and Accountability are key components towards human development.

As people exercise voice (. i.e. they are able to do something about the problems they face), in order to ensure the quality of the public debate, voice must be an informed one. Then, access to...