Learning About Politicians’ Incentives: Opening Government and Contracting in Blumenau
Posted: 2 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 31, 2015
Open government and contracting across the world often invest resources to win high level political officials’ will for their cause. Still, there are a limited stories about why and how politicians buy-into this agendas and implement concrete, innovative open solutions to improve public service delivery. This paper tells the story of the Napoleão Bernardes administration in Blumenau, Southern Brazil. Bernardes was a dark horse in the city’s mayoral election in 2011 and won by a slim margin. Since the administration took office in 2012 it has implemented a number of measures that use transparency, accountability, and participation to improve service delivery. These include setting up innovative reforms using transparency and technology to end clientelistic allocation of services (e.g. placement in kindergarten and pavement), improving transparency and accountability of procurement systems, and establishing instances of collaboration with civil society groups.
These concrete actions, as well as they mayor’s reelection campaign rhetoric, suggest that Bernardes has embraced the open government agenda as one that is instrumental to his political future. And yet, Bernardes and his advisors acknowledge that the open agenda does not deliver votes. Furthermore, the open government agenda have created tensions with political supporters, campaign funders, and politicians and parties the mayor needs to govern the city. This paper describes and illustrates the alternative political logic that helps understand why Bernardes tied his political future to this agenda and, in so doing, helped advance innovative solutions to problems that affect cities in Brazil and elsewhere.
Keywords: Open government, Transparency, Accountability, Political Economy, Public Administration Reform, Service Delivery, Brazil
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation