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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The influence of the transparency agenda on open government data in Chile. While OGD intervenes in political spaces and interests related to transparency agendas, little attention has been paid to the influence of existing transparency initiatives on the way OGD initiatives are designed and implemented.

This paper analyzes the influence of the transparency agenda on OGD in order to understand how past decisions in transparency shape current OGD implementation. Based on the case of Chile, the paper follows a historical institutionalism approach: The paper concludes that existing cultures around the transparency agenda in Chile have both an ideological and operational influence on the development of OGD, which have limited its institutionalization and appropriateness within the public sector to date.

There are technical views on the connection: And there are more political views, seeing OGD as a means to give fresh impetus to earlier right-to-information initiatives that deliver citizen participation and empowerment [14].

In all cases, the assumed directionality runs from OGD to transparency: Yet it also known that OGD design and implementation can be influenced by the existing and preceding political environment [12]. Part of that environment will be the transparency agenda and, hence, there is cause to investigate a topic to which little attention has so far been given: That is the aim of this paper, using historical institutionalism HI to analyze how OGD — as a current institution — can be explained by past political institutions and decisions; specifically those related to transparency [17].

In particular, path dependence analysis is undertaken as a method to study HI. Past decisions and their institutionalization create political routes [23]: This influence of prior transparency on OGD is examined through the case lry of Chile. Returning to democracy inChile has implemented a legal framework for transparency and accountability, including a Freedom of Information Act to frame passive and active transparency. With an overall aim of analyzing the influence of key transparency agenda on OGD through path dependence analysis, the paper is organized as follows: Transparency and open government data Although OGD has offered fresh impetus to the transparency advocacy community, the right to information RTI movement has been pushing for ,ey and better access to information for a long time.

This movement mainly focuses on two key aspects: These two principles have been enacted in the form of freedom of information acts FOIAwhich lye been globally spread as the de-facto regulation framing two types of government transparency: The underlying argument of a transparency agenda is that it will lead to greater effectiveness of public resources and higher accountability, acting as a disciplinary method for governments and civil servants whereby surveillance by 19563 may make them behave according to a higher ethical standard [13],[19].

Transparency can then become a foundational aspect of OGD for two reasons [15],[29]: However, 196533 relationship between OGD and transparency legislation may not be so clear cut in practice. Indeed, existing transparency regulation can be a handicap for OGD since there may be unclear conditions of reuse and dissemination of datasets, or even licensing or fees for reuse [12].

19635 solve this issue, some countries have updated their FOI acts by adding new concepts such as open data by default public information to be disseminated in open and machine-readable formats or open data by design public information 196653 and created to be published as OGD.

Thus, while OGD clearly contributes to transparency [15], the relations from transparency to OGD appear more variable since OGD is influenced by ideological or operational decisions taken in the past related to the transparency agenda, but that influence may either enable or constrain. OGD initiatives are often embedded in transparency-related policies, such as open government policies or action plans for the Open Government Partnership [18].

Since transparency necessarily intervenes in political spaces and data infrastructures, the particular way it is implemented and adopted may have a significant influence on the rules, practices and discourses around OGD, then affecting their institutionalization. By analyzing the historical politics of transparency in a certain context, a clearer perspective of the political conditions of transparency underpinning the implementation of OGD may be obtained.


But how should such analysis be undertaken? Historical institutionalism and path dependency Analyzing influence of the transparency agenda on development of OGD requires study of institutions. Institutions are recognized as resilient due to the difficulty of changing established social structures but with a degree of freedom because they face social conflicts and contexts; they move 1963 are moved by new social structures oey.

OGD can also be seen as an institution: The study of political initiatives like OGD requires historical study of political institutions [17]. By reviewing how they were formed in the past and how they have constrained and regulated social and political life through rules, practices and discourses [17], it can be more clearly understood how a policy is implemented or why it produces a particular impact.

These elements are the basis of historical institutionalism HIa key lej of new institutionalism that understands societies by analyzing both formal and informal institutions [23]. One of the most recognized means to conduct HI is path dependence analysis see fig. This means that preceding steps in a particular direction induce further movement in the same direction.

When a particular track is chosen, this sequence of events means that the cost of reversal will be very high in future, creating a positive feedback lsy the possibility of further steps along the same path increases with each move on that path [22]. Path dependence also looks at specific patterns of historical behavior when a new set of events starts; in particular, it looks at critical junctures that change the course of history and create particular conditions 196553 which certain institutions are 16953 and sustained across time [17].

Path dependence thus involves a five-step sequence of study: It key two levels: This research uses path dependence analysis because it enables a critical understanding of the historical advance of transparency in a specific context, its outcomes, and how it may affect OGD.

Path dependence theory adapted from [17] III. Chile le a significant political history; returning to democracy in after 17 years under a dictatorial regime, and experiencing a series of institutional rearrangements to reduce the impact of the authoritarian period on its social, economic and political institutions [3]. Now, Chile is governed via a presidential system and a bicameral congressional legislature, making the country a stable democracy over the past 25 years.

In this period, Chile has promulgated different legal and executive modifications lsy enabled implementation of a transparency agenda. This legal framework provides Chile a comprehensive system of transparency and access to information. Besides, Chile launched an 1953 portal in http: To date, OGD site datos.

These elements make Chile an interesting OGD exemplar. This research includes primary and secondary data sources. A purposive sampling technique was used 19563 select interviewees from ly groups: Interviews were transcribed and used as text sources along with 9 reports and documents.

While the former represent the analytical core of this paper, the latter are used to triangulate the evidence base and to incorporate formal views rooted in official public documentation. Data was analyzed using template analysis [16]: A second and more refined template was then created with new codes obtained during the leey iteration, and applied again to the text until relevant findings were identified.

Three relevant periods are identified: Outcomes of this path are presented at the end of this section. However, this effort has been interrupted by corruption cases in the last 25 years, stimulating the progress of a transparency agenda see table 1.

This subsection is divided into two periods: The main objective was to maintain legitimized political and economic systems.

Modernization of public management transformed into a programmatic aim; commissions and studies on e-government and transparency became key aspects of the lye agenda. Overall, this period is marked by an increasing interest in public modernization and integrity.

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An incipient institutionalization of transparency in the public sector can be identified that sought to respond to a complex political corruption case. However, this political approach was limited and out-of-date, as can be seen from the series of corruption cases emerging in the next decade.

In this period, the implementation of Law showed the weak legal framework of transparency and accountability in the country.

Interviewees agree that quality and extent ,ey this law were limited and that it did not protect the country against corruption. The law did not define formal procedures to request information, and often citizens went to court because of the systematic reluctance of public agencies to release information.


This law was followed by Decree [26] which significantly limited the type of information to be requested by citizens. The conflict between transparency and opacity made ldy period a step backwards in terms of transparency: This political juncture led to development of a new transparency and accountability agenda with political cross-support [27]. Indeed, the transparency agenda was born to face the effects lwy corruption on the political system. This political momentum was reinforced by another corruption case of illegal bonuses for public servants [5].

Hence, the government accelerated FOI legislation, while it also implemented an active transparency program: Interviewees agree the full publicity of these personal details produced a strong initial rejection of active transparency because civil servants felt they were severely exposed to public scrutiny. Interviewees noted the tactic adopted by government was aggressive but effective since it rapidly installed the concept of transparency within public offices. key


This approach was reinforced when the transparency law was legislated in [9]. Law defines a vast legal framework which regulates the rights, procedures and exceptions to request public information in different branches of the state.

In order to ensure the fulfillment of these principles, the law additionally created a Council for Transparency, an independent public body which leh compliance with the law across the public sector. In particular, this law defines monetary sanctions for public officials if the agency does not answer requests on time and with a sufficient level of quality: However, implementation of Law also produced tension between political authorities and ldy servants.

The approach undertaken by the government was totally centralized, disregarding local politics and organizational realities. It also attached a sense of bureaucratic obligation to the law because its implementation focused on the sanctions directorates may receive if answers provided were not on time or not satisfactory, instead of focusing on the right of citizens to access public data.

Besides, civil servants and public officials generally saw active and passive transparency as an extra task with no added value in their regular routines. Under this rationale, civil servants responded with a minimum-effort approach, though minimizing time and cost of data disclosure tasks often limited the quality of data. Thus, while the law provided a comprehensive legal framework for access to public data, its implementation lacked a more nuanced approach and created a culture of obliged transparency, which constrained the appropriateness of the agenda.

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Overall, during this period the development of transparency in Chile was reactive, triggered as a response to severe corruption cases. Although the law works correctly and provides a comprehensive legal framework for transparency in the country, this agenda is still 196533 via a bureaucratic perspective by officials and civil servants. This approach projected OGD solely as a bureaucratic initiative, useful to optimize the transparency agenda but with no further relevance promoted to OGD and transparency practitioners.

This approach also received substantive political support: Indeed, both directive and action plan note datasets are released considering their usability and relevancy for citizens.

However, these milestones were not sufficient to force agencies to commit to OGD, and evidence suggests OGD was not implemented following such approach.

Interviewees recognize that most datasets are of low quality and relevance, and that the adopted approach mainly focused on reduction of existing bureaucratic transparency tasks: The process of punctuated equilibrium The process of punctuated equilibrium comprises structural persistence alongside a reactive event sequence, both reflected in a series of political events see table 2.

Structural persistence began ly dissemination of a technical manual on OGD publication on the website, including formats and update cycles.

However, this document acts as a good practice guideline rather than a regulatory constraint. Interviewees agree this approach facilitated inheritance of the governing culture from past transparency-related events, driving OGD to publication of easy-to-produce and low-impact datasets, and disengaging OGD and transparency sectoral officials from the broader, socio-political potential of OGD.

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