Fundar: Centro de Análisis e InvestigaciónMexico City, Mexico
Published August 24, 2006
Applying independent research and analysis to improve public policy in Mexico
In 2000, Mexico held its first truly democratic presidential election in a century. Helping to tend to this new, still fragile, democracy in Mexico is Fundar, an organization headed by some of the country’s leading social scientists, who keep steady pressure on the government to remain transparent and accountable.
How does government use public funds? How much does government spend on programs for the people? Where does the money go? Are the funds allocated for specific programs sufficient to accomplish them? And most important, where should it go? These questions are new to Mexican citizens and some policymakers. Government and the public must learn what to do with the information now at hand.
Fundar is taking the lead in helping to ask and answer these questions, which are critical to making effective policy and ensuring a healthy and lasting democratic transition. Through careful research and analysis, Fundar monitors corruption, tracks improper use of public funds, analyzes budgets, particularly as they apply to marginalized populations, and develops accountability measures.
Fundar puts research to use for the common good, and it often does so not as an outside agitator, but as a partner with government. Its strong cooperative network of researchers, non-governmental organizations and other institutions, in partnership with the Mexican government, is essential for its analysis. Essentially starting from scratch, Fundar and its partners have developed the tools and methodologies to evaluate government policies through independent budget analysis.
The organization has focused much of its efforts on human rights and health policy.
Fundar’s documentation of the relatively small budget for HIV/AIDS prevention led to a dramatic increase from $100,000 to $10 million in 2005. In 2002, Fundar’s research resulted in greater transparency for the government’ decentralized health funding and, for the first time, specific earmarking of funding for maternal health programs. Its 2004 study on the cost of equipping health centers with basic emergency obstetric equipment and staff contributed to the Ministry of Health’s decision to enhance coverage for common pregnancy and delivery complications in the government’s Popular Insurance program.
Fundar produced the only comparative analysis of the legal framework and accountability mechanisms of the 33 Mexican Human Rights Commissions. It has studied accountability in the Mexico City police force and initiated a pilot program with partners in Guerrero for evaluating police performance. After Fundar protested a Finance Ministry decision to cease publication of detailed information on federal expenditures, the Ministry recommenced the publication, this time with an enhanced search engine on the Web. Fundar also led a regional effort to create a Latin American Budget Transparency Index.
Accountability to the people is new to Mexico. Information on government budgets, policies, and spending has simply been unavailable for nearly a century. With the push for greater democracy and openness, Mexico is inviting greater scrutiny and accountability, and Fundar is there to ensure that the nation abides by those promises and that democracy’s roots continue to burrow deep and take hold.
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