The first thing I noticed this morning in the local press here in São Paulo was the news that president Dilma Rousseff had accepted the resignation of her chief of staff, Antonio Palocci.
It’s a corruption story. Nothing much to do with IT, but I tweeted the news nonetheless and I was surprised to see a very high amount of negativity expressed on Twitter regarding the removal of Palocci.
To recap, Palocci’s personal wealth increased twenty times during 2006-2010 thanks to his personal consulting firm, a period during which he has also been in office. There is nothing illegal about a politician running a private firm on the side – it happens in many countries and often allows elected officials to stay more in touch with the real world of commerce. However, such a rapid increase in wealth has sparked questions about exactly what consulting Palocci has been up to.
The responses I got on Twitter to my post can be summed up with a shrug of the shoulders… It’s just what we expect from politicians… They are all crooks… The system can never change…
But I would suggest that maybe President Dilma has kicked a snowball of transparency from the top of a very large mountain. It may take some time for it to start gathering speed, but there is already the momentum for change.
Today in São Paulo there is the first ever Brazilian Gov 2.0 event. This echos what countries such as the US, Canada, and UK have all tried – getting people to participate more effectively in modern politics. This Brazilian event follows the unconference format used at events such as barcamp and aims to bring politicians, companies, and organizations together to plan more effective methods of governance – especially with the use of technology.
The agenda for the conference was set by the interested parties debating what should be debated today on social networks over the past few weeks. Every aspect of the conference planning has been posted online to ensure that everything, from the agenda to the proposed speakers, was discussed openly before the event ever took place.
And one of the key messages about a more social style of government is that it is harder for the crooks to hide. From the chief of staff making millions on the side to a traffic policeman asking for bribes, once information about their activities is more freely available, transparency wins.
If this sounds idealistic then take a look at I Paid a Bribe – an Indian website. Once policemen, driving test examiners, immigration officials, and elected politicians start realising that the public will share information on their activities without fear of recrimination then graft becomes harder – at all levels.
Angelica Mari is reporting from the Gov 2.0 conference today so you will hear more about that event tomorrow, but IT Decisions wants to hear from you on this wider issue. Can technology really make a difference to the structure of government itself and start shining a light on the areas that other strategies have never reached?
Photo by the US Army licensed under Creative Commons