Frequently asked questions about the right of access to public information in the administration of the Generalitat of Catalonia and its public sector
1. What is the right of access to public information? Where is it regulated?
The right of access to public information is recognised to all people above sixteen years old, and it doesn’t require that a personal interest or motivation are justified. It is the right to access the public information that the Administration has in its power, and is regulated in the Law 19/2014, of 29 December, on transparency, access to public information and good government (from now on, Law 19/2014).
2. What is a portal of transparency?
The portal of transparency of a public institution is the web where public information is made available to citizens. In Catalonia, the web http://www.transparenciacatalunya.cat/ca/inici/ gathers all portals of transparency of the Catalan public administrations, public sector entities, public universities and political parties; on the other hand, the Portal of Transparency of the Government of Catalonia www.transparencia.gencat.cat grants access to the web of the Government of Catalonia, which fulfils the obligations of proactive information advertising.
3. What information is available at the Portal of Transparency?
There’s basic public information, such as the budgets of the Government of Catalonia, the public agreements and the wages of high charges, in addition to a lot of other information that is considered of interest for the citizens. The contents are split in the following areas: organisation, economy and finances, contracting, territory, lines of action, and procedures and juridical actions.
4. Do I have to fill in a request form to obtain public information?
It is not necessary. Before requesting information, check if it is already available at the Portal of Transparency of the Government of Catalonia (www.transparencia.gencat.cat ). If it is not, you need to submit a request. The Administration will study it and will provide the requested information, except when in application of any of the limits established by Law 19/2014. It is not necessary neither to allege personal interest nor to explain why you are making the request.
5. Who can submit a request?
All people above sixteen years old can submit a request, because of personal interest or on behalf of an entity. Only one person is needed in order to request access to public information.
6. Is it simple and fast to submit a request?
Yes, you only need to fill in a form that can be submitted in person or online. It is possible to sign a form electronically by means of electronic certificate or with idCAT Mòbil. idCAT Mòbil is an authentication system and electronic signature; it is an alternative to digital certificates, and it allows you to easily submit an online request; for more information, check the link http://web.gencat.cat/ca/tramits/sobre-tramits-gencat/com-tramitar-en-linia/identificacio-digital/id-cat-mobil/
This is the link to submit an online request:
If you want to submit the request in person, you can do so in any register of the Administration of the Government of Catalonia, or you can send it by post, preferably to the department of from which you want to obtain the information. Once the request is submitted, the Administration will provide you the requested information in the lapse of a month.
7. Can the Administration takes more of one month to answer the request?
The Administration has the obligation to settle a request in the lapse of a month counting from the day following the date of reception, unless the required information presents a great load of work or complexity. In these cases, the Administration will warn the requestor that the answer is being postponed and will explain why.
8. What information can be requested?
All the information made by the Administration and the one it has in its possession as a consequence of its activity or of the exercise of its functions, including the one supplied to it by other organisations or people in accordance with Law 19/2014. However, the right of access to public information can be denied or restricted when applying any of the limits to this right or other causes established by art. 21 of Law 19/2014.
The Administration can not apply the limits in Law 19/2014 at will. It is necessary to justify them, in accordance with the principles of equality and of prohibition of arbitrariness.
9. Can I be granted access to public information with personal data?
It is not allowed to give information with personal data about ideology, union membership, religion, beliefs, racial origin, health and sexual life, nor information on penal or administrative infractions that do not involve a public warning to the offender. Out of that, any information can be supplied, with a reasoned previous deliberation about public interest of the divulgation and the rights of people affected by it, and always taking into account other parameters like time passed since the data were created, the purpose for the access, the protection of the rights of minors and the protection of the security of the people.
10. Which are the formal requirements of the request?
The requests can be processed by any means that allow to keep record of the elements established in art. 26 of Law 19/2014: the identity of the requestor, the information to be granted access to, the format in which is preferred to have access, and a contact address.
11. How do I know which body I request information from?
When you are submitting a request form in person, you need to state which department you want to address the request to in the request form, whereas in the electronic form there is enough to state the subject of the request. In any case, you do not have to worry about properly stating the addressee, since the Administration has a way to redirect requests to the competent body in case they are addressed wrongly.
12. Is it necessary to justify the request so that it is admitted by the Administration?
Justifying is not necessary, only optional, to exercise the right of access to public information. However, the explanation of the reasons behind the request can put it into context and make the task of the Administration easier.
13. Is the protection of personal data stated in the request guaranteed?
The data provided in the request will be protected in accordance to the legislation on protection of personal data. When you fill in the request form, it is necessary that you accept the instructions for use of the data for the exercise of the right of access, with all guarantees established in Organic Law on data protection and the Catalan Authority of Data Protection.
14. What happens if the Administration does not understand the whole or a part of my request because it considers it to be imprecise?
The Administration will ask the requestor that, in the lapse of 10 days, the content of the request is cleared. If the requestor doesn’t do so, the procedure will be set aside and filed.
15. What happens if the request is partially approved?
In that case, the Administration will provide the part of the requested information that has been approved and will justify the denial of the access to the rest of the information.
16. What can I do if the Administration denies the access to the information?
If you consider that your right to access public information has been infringed, whether you have been denied the whole of part of the information, you have three options. You can choose any one indistinctly, but it is necessary to remember that if you choose the contentious appeal you will not be able to submit a reposition appeal:
- Submit a facultative reposition appeal to the organ that has signed the (partial or total) denial.
- Submit a complaint to the Commission of Guarantee of the Right of Access to Public Information (GAIP). This complaint is free and voluntary. GAIP is an independent organ and develops its activities with strict impartiality. The complaints can be processed through a mediation procedure or ordinary procedure. This is the link: http://web.gencat.cat/ca/tramits/tramits-temes/Reclamacio-davant-al-Comissio-de-Garantia-del-Dret-dAcces-a-la-Informacio-Publica?category=724be274-a82c-11e3-a972-000c29052e2c
- Submit an administrative contentious appeal. This appeal can be submitted against the total or partial denial of the request as well as against the resolutions of the reposition appeal or the complaint to GAIP, in case these were unfavourable.
17. Do I need legal advice in order to follow the procedure?
It is not necessary, the procedure is designed so that anyone can access it without needing legal advice.
18. What happens if the Administration does not settle the request in time?
A general rule of positive administrative silence is established, which means the approval of the request. However, this rule has no effect when any of the limits foreseen in the Law 19/2014 are applied.
19. Can submitting a request involve any expense for the requestor?
Law 19/2014 establishes that the access to public information is free, whenever the data are consulted in the place where they are archived, or, if they exist in electronic format, can be delivered by e-mail. Photocopies may be charged to the requestor.
20. As a requestor, can I be affected by somebody else’s right of access to the public information?
In case that others’ right of access affected your rights or interests, the Administration would tell you and you would have 10 days to claim whenever this may be decisive, as regulated in art. 31 of Law 19/2014.
21. In which format will I get the information?
The Administration will provide you the information in the format that you request. However, in some circumstances the information may be provided in a different format, if there is a more economic or reasonable alternative, if the information has already been spread, or if there are other circumstances regulated in art. 36 of Law 19/2014.
22. If I want to know which groups of interest have influence in the Government’s politics, ¿do I need to make a request?
It is not necessary. There is a register of groups of interest, which depends of the Department of Justice, which may be accessed through the web of this Department and incorporates an electronic look-up form. You can access via the following link: http://justicia.gencat.cat/ca/ambits/grups_interes/consulta_grups_interes/index.html
23. If I want to have access to the public information of a local entity, ¿can I use the form of the Government of Catalonia?
The best option is to request the information directly from the local entity itself, but you can also do it using the form of the Government, which will derive the request to the local entity addressee when necessary.
24. If I have questions about the access to public information, the Portal of Transparency or the right of access, ¿how can I solve them?
You can answer your questions through the Government of Catalonia’s mailbox. This is the link:
Through this mailbox you can ask, complain or make a suggestion about the request procedure. You need to select “public Administration” as primary subject of the e-mail, and “Open Government and Transparency” as secondary subject.
You can also do this through the Portal of Transparency of the Government of Catalonia, in the area Help/Contact. https://ovt.gencat.cat/gsitfc/AppJava/generic/conqxsGeneric.do?webFormId=471&set-locale=ca_ES
HighlightsFrequently asked questions (pdf)