A recently published study into accountability among state governments explores how greater autonomy for state governments has not translated into greater efficiency and sensitivity to citizen demands for information. The report, “Accountability in State Governments,” is part of a larger research project about the structure of accountability in Mexico that is being spearheaded by a Mexico City research center called the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Economicas, CIDE) with funding through The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
The section on state governments, which is written by Guillermo Cejudo and former-Justice in Mexico Project Coordinator Alejandra Rios Cazares, looks at the states’ role in providing a means for greater accountability and access to public information and finds wide differences in how information is being safeguarded and how state-created institutes of public information are being managed and funded throughout Mexico.
In one example, the research finds protection of most state archives is deficient due to a lack of a legal framework. Lack of coordination among government dependencies and heavy work loads also hinder the effectiveness of the Institutes. The researchers find that “the magnitude of the work of these Institutes does not appear to correspond with their capacities.” Researchers also looked at the autonomy and enforcement power of state institutes set up to receive and process public information requests, and found that they vary according to the different legislative frameworks.
The budget amounts for these Institutes also vary widely. The average amount per state budget that goes to the Institutes represents .11 percent of overall spending, though this ranges from Chiapas spending just .02 percent of its budget to Campeche and Quintana Roo where .25 percent of their budget is set aside for the Institutes.
The report includes four conclusions: In the first case, the mechanisms for accountability – such as keeping track of finances – need to include greater muscle and concrete actions from local legislatures. Second, state governments need to do a better job of following up on deficiencies that appear in evaluations, as well as in preventing the duplication of functions and responsibilities so that accountability is more clearly delineated. The third finding is that attempts to provide greater transparency are stymied by a lack of coordination between state institutions. Finally, state government accountability tends to be more reactive rather than pro-active.
From the July Justice in Mexico Project’s Monthly News Report:
Cejudo, Guillermo and Rios, Alejandra. “La rendicion de cuentas en gobiernos estatales.” http://rendiciondecuentas.cide.edu/documentos/Cejudo-RiosCazares_Rendicion_de_Cuentas_en_Estados.pdf