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Determinants of Open Data Disclosure and Accountability in Spanish Regional Governments

Jesús García-García and Ricardo Curto-Rodríguez

In order to improve governments’ transparency and accountability a large volume of literature has been developed searching for the key factors that determine greater dissemination of public information. However, most of this research was focused on municipalities but almost none on the regional level. This paper aims to fill the gap in the literature related to the regional governments and to highlight the differences between key factors of dissemination and transparency in local and regional governments. For this comparison, the field of study for those key factors are the Spanish Autonomous Communities, what allows taking advantage on the rich literature focused on Spanish municipalities. To this end, a transparency index for governmental open data portals and another one for both transparency portals and institutional web sites are constructed as a weighted sum of 20 information items related to governments’ transparency and accountability. Weightings are based on the Tim Berners-Lee open data scale; therefore, both indexes value not only the dissemination but also the openness and reutilization levels of the information. In order to figure out what key factors are associated with different levels in transparency, an analysis on the existing literature about the determinants of accountability and selection of the most common variables was conducted. In addition, a number of new variables were included summing up a total of 26 which are divided into six categories related to quality of governance, economic performance, social and demographic characteristics, fiscal and budgetary policies and regional specific identity features. Results show that absolute majority and political strength are associated with lower levels of transparency while the greater levels are related to existing regulation on transparency, economic competitiveness and budget expenditure on education and health. Nevertheless, the most outstanding finding is the positive link to regional specific identity features, which leads to conclude that the idiosyncrasy of each type of government are key to improve transparency and accountability.

Key words: Open Data; Accountability; Public Accountability; Transparency; Regional Government; Regions; Autonomy; Spain

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