Between 20 May and 12 September 2019, the Directorio Legislativo – an Argentinian organization that promotes parliamentary transparency and citizen participation – ran the innovative #HolaCongreso! (Hello Congress!) campaign. Over 400 volunteers from all across Argentina, including students from 44 different academic disciplines, enrolled to work with members of parliament and senators to promote the adoption of good transparency practices. Their work complements that of a wider alliance, made up of legislators, journalists, academics and civil society representatives, that aims to implement a Legislative Transparency Roadmap.
The Legislative Observatory showing the data MPs provided (https://www.holacongreso.org/s/#Datos)
The volunteers, who were assigned individually to each of the 329 legislators, reached out to members of parliament and senators during the four-month period to promote the Roadmap, including seven key points from the Directorio’s Guide for the Transparent Legislator, which encourages legislators to publish their up-to-date contact information (including social media accounts), CV, aides’ information, reports, statements, receipts and meeting diaries. The results currently feed into the Legislative Observatory, a new online platform that provides indicators on legislative transparency, including to what extent individual legislators are making such data available, as well as other metrics relative to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Volunteers also gained a valuable insight into the world that legislators operate in – which many have documented and reported on, including via online blogs, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., all of which could be followed via #holacongreso.
Hola Congreso! launch event (copyright: Directorio Legislativo)
The response of legislators was mixed: some were initially hesitant to answer “uncomfortable questions”, but others embraced the volunteers, even engaging with them during outside events. Nevertheless, information about meeting diaries and lobbying activities were difficult to obtain, which highlights the importance of passing a law to establish a regulatory framework in this regard. One positive outcome – as legislators have become more aware of the need for transparency – has been their increased interest in the tools available to them to deliver in this regard. In response to this, the Directorio is seeking to inform the parliamentary authorities about how to open up more institutionally, including through open data and relevant policies and systems. The Parliaments of Chile and Brazil are pioneers in the implementation of transparency policies and civil participation tools, serving as a source of inspiration in the region. Asked about key success factors to manage a campaign of this kind and magnitude, Ms. Delfina Vildósola (Directorio Project Manager) mentioned: knowing who your key stakeholders are; having and maintaining strong allies; cultivating a network to get people talking about the campaign; focusing on community-building; and, lastly, keeping the volunteers engaged and interested throughout.
Asked about key success factors to manage a campaign of this kind and magnitude, Ms. Delfina Vildósola (Directorio Project Manager) mentioned: knowing who your key stakeholders are; having and maintaining strong allies; cultivating a network to get people talking about the campaign; focusing on community-building; and, lastly, keeping the volunteers engaged and interested throughout.
Delfina Vildósola Project Manager – Directorio Legislativo
Launch press release (in Spanish)