Government and Transparency: An Applied Econometric Case for Colombia

In modern times, there has been an integration of the technologies of information and the public sector, which are strictly correlated with the development of open government policies across the world. This is an increasing concern in empirical approximations from the field of Public Economics, in the sense that we can ask several questions regarding if they are helping or not to reduce the levels of corruption, improving the efficiency of the government and the actual development of the public administration.

In my last recent publication co-authored with Jeisson Riveros, the article entitled “Implications and Incidences of the Open Government Policies: The Colombian Case of 2014-2016” was finally released as the first chapter in the book “Challenges 2020: Open Government” published by the Institute of Higher Legislative Studies from Ecuador (In Spanish: Instituto de Altos Estudios Legislativos) (IAEN).

The article takes as theoretical constructions the statements of Oszlak & Kaufman (2014) from the Open Government features, including their advantages, and innovations from the implementation of policies on this matter. Along with the New Public Management characteristics from Osborne & Gaebler (1994). It is empirically reviewed how the open government policies are correlated with the phenomenons of corruption and transparency for Colombia in two specific years (2014 & 2016). The methodology involved the panel data regression models using Fixed and Random Effects as a form to empirically review these correlations.

The dependent variable to measure the level of corruption involved an Index formulated by the organization “Transparency for Colombia” which belongs to the initiative of “Transparency International” (well-known for the construction of the Global Corruption Barometer). The index, called “Transparent Municipal Index” (ITM) allows capturing the magnitude of the “risk of corruption” by the public administrative entities from the local level. And given the availability of the data, it was only measured for 2014 and 2016.

The set of independent variables for the first model were chosen through three components of the Open Government Index published by the National Attorney of Colombia, these components are also found for the same years, in the same local level, and are segmented in Organization of the Information (OI), Exposition of Information (EI), and Dialogue of Information (DI) which captured different aspects of the Open Government regulations and their application.

Some of the scatterplots of these independent variables against the Transparent Municipal Index for Colombia in the two years of the study, reflected a positive correlation with the open government policies. And some of visual results can be witnedssed in the following graphs.

Scatterplot Transparent Municipal Index vs Component of Organization of Information.
Scatterplot Transparent Municipal Index vs Component of Exposition of Information.
Scatterplot Transparent Municipal Index vs Component of Dialogue of Information.

The panel data econometric model involved a linear specification of the Transparent Municipal Index (as the measure of the risk of corruption) to be explained through the open government components of OI, EI, and DI. Which derived in the next specification:

Where i represents the local entity (from the municipal level) and t the year of the observation. A one-way error component model was included as Ci and allowed to capture some of the unobserved heterogeneity of the local entities. And in the regression panel data outputs two specifications were included by adding a Visibility variable of the public entities. The results were the following:

Panel Data Regression Output.

From the two models estimated, the inclusion of the Visibility variable improved greatly the specification of the original model, and the results derived in a significant positive impact from the components of Organization of the Information and Exposition of the Information as relevant variables at a 5% level of significance to explain the Transparent Municipal Index as the measure of the risk of corruption. Increases in the components deliver an increase in the transparency at the local levels, and by the index construction, involves a decrease in the risk of corruption practices. The linear explanation of the model (not so important in this context) is also decent between the individuals.

Concluding remarks are that practices of open government help to reduce the risk of corruption, by the theoretical constructions in which the public management can be viewed, inspected, and controlled by the society, and in this setting, provided a better set up for the governance in the local entities. Further research is required, but this study supports the traditional idea that a good and efficient government is one that has no secrets, and according to logical deductions, such transparency helps to decrease the risk of corruption, which for the sample of the study, are empirically correlated.

Reference of the article:

Riveros Gavilanes, J. M. & Riveros Gavilanes, J. A. (2021) Implicaciones e Incidencias de las Politicas de Gobierno Abierto, Contenido en Retos 2020: Gobierno Abierto. Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales IAEN (Ecuador). Recuperated from:

General References

Corporación Transparencia por Colombia CTC. Resultados 2015-2016. Recuperado de co/2015-2016/ITM/Alcaldias

Oszlak, O., & Kaufman, E. (2014). Teoría y práctica del gobierno abierto: Lecciones de la experiencia internacional. Buenos Aires: OEA. Recuperado de

Osborne, D., y Gaebler, T. (1994). Un nuevo modelo de gobierno: cómo transforma el espíritu empresarial al sector público. Ciudad de México: Gernika.

Procuraduría General de la Nación PGN. Índice de Gobierno Abierto. Recuperado de

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