As population surges upwards and resources become scarcer, the need to ensure effective, honest governance is becoming increasingly urgent. In my capacity as professor of politics and public administration at the Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (FGV-EBAPE) in Rio de Janeiro, I am fortunate enough to research, write about, and share my concerns about the quality of public governance.
Most of my research focuses on public transparency, a subject I am passionate about because it is a precondition for effective accountability, and without accountability citizens are ill-equipped to govern other citizens. Broadly conceived, transparency has been labelled the “oxygen of democracy”.
The questions I ask about transparency are varied: How do strong transparency laws come about? To what extent are public officials complying with these laws? And how best can we evaluate the operation of transparency policies? My research and research projects span the horizons of comparative politics, public administration, international relations, political communication, and applied methods. My interest in transparency also extends to policy-relevant themes such as pay-inequality in the public service (particularly detrimental among street-level bureaucrats in developing countries), government influence on media coverage, lobbying regulation, and citizen-legislator proximity and the degree to which governments are representative.
At the FGV, I am involved in several research projects, including “Judiciary and Big Data” with Ivar Hartmann and Renato Rocha, and an Open Society Foundation-funded project I lead, the Transparency Evaluation Network (TEN). TEN is based within FGV’s Public Transparency Program (PTP), a joint partnership between FGV-EBAPE and the Center for Technology and Society at the FGV School of Law. Whereas PTP gauges how well Brazilian governments are complying with the country’s new freedom of information law, at TEN we compile, develop, apply and compare public transparency evaluations from around the world in order to promote more reliable research on transparency, foster networks of engaged evaluators, and motivate greater governmental compliance through the power of comparison.
Teaching and Mentoring
Teaching is another area of great interest and engagement for me. I teach ‘Democratic Political Institutions’ to undergraduates, ‘Introduction to Public Policy’ and ‘Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance” to students in the Master’s of Public Administration program, and ‘The Politics of Good Governance in Brazil’ to students in the International Master’s Program.. Finally, I am responsible for the Qualitative Methods course in FGV-EBAPE’s academic master’s and doctoral program. A biased sample of teaching evaluations is available here.
I have mentored and assisted dozens of students in achieving their academic goals, including completing degrees and gaining entry into high-level academic programs abroad. Contact me for more information.
I am engaged in writing several scholarly articles with students. Below is a list of research projects completed by students of mine, some of which will go on to international publication:
- “Who Wants to Know?” A Field experiment to Assess Discrimination in Freedom of Information Regimes, by Rafael Velasco. This study was originally an article by Michener and Furtado presented at APSA 2015. Velasco, in his MA, has conducted a new and improved field experiment.
- Transparency of City Councils in Brazil’s State Capitals (Transparência das Câmaras municipais das capitais do Brasil) by Andressa Falconiery.
- The Transparency of Brokerage Commissions in the Car Insurance Industry: A Comparative Study with Lessons from Brazil. (Transparência da comissão de corretagem na intermediação do seguro automóvel: um estudo comparada lições para o Brasil) by Luiz Fernando Hideichi Sasaki.
- Transparency of Forest Governance in the Amazon: An Analysis of State-Level Compliance with Brazil’s Access to Information Law (Transparência da governança florestal na Amazônia: uma análise de cumprimento da Lei de Acesso à Informação nos estados) by Eduardo Bizzo.
- Transparency in the State of Rio de janeiro: An Analysis and Recommendations (Transparência no governo do estado do rio de janeiro: análise e recomendações)
- Public Relations Releases and Media Coverage: A Study on Media Independence within the Cities of Piracicaba and Baurú (Assessorias e cobertura jornalística na administração pública um estudo sobre a independência da mídia nas cidades de piracicaba e bauru) by Bruno Machado.
- My Transparent School: A Comparative Analysis of Open-Data usage in the Basic Education Systems of Brazil and the United Kingdom. (Minha escola transparente: uma análise comparativa do uso de dados governamentais abertos na educação básica no brasil e Inglaterra) by Otavio Ritter. Now published as a refereed article in Public Administration.
- Federal University Compliance with Active Transparency Provisions in Brazil’s Access to Information Law (Aferição do grau de cumprimento às obrigações de transparência ativa constantes da Lei de Acesso à Informação por Universidades Federais do Brasil) by Alessandra Montero.
- Implications of Brazil’s Access to Information Law in the Regulatory Sector: An Examination of The National Agency for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (Implicações da Lei de Acesso à Informação: os casos da Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis e das Agências Reguladoras Federais) by Rodrigo Mendes.
I earned a B.A. at McGill University in Montreal and, after extensive travel in South America, accepted an offer from the University of Texas at Austin for graduate studies because of its unparalleled resources on all subjects Latin American, as well as its location. There I completed an M.A. at the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and a Ph.D. (2010) in comparative politics and international relations in the Department of Government.
A Canadian citizen from Toronto, I am also a Brazilian permanent resident married to the lovely architect and project manager, Carolina Porto Fonseca. We feel privileged to live in park-rich Praia do Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, and to have a healthy and happy little toddler, Arthur. I am a sometimes blogger at observingbrazil.com, an outdoorsman, and a letter-writing enthusiast. I return back to Canada with my son and wife for at least one month every year.