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Three Days ago I inquired about the progress of my Ph.D. validation here in Brazil, for which I applied in August, 2010. All foreign degrees (with the exception of France) have to be “re-validated.” Three days ago, I learned that they’re sending the degree back to the start, because the UFRJ doesn’t have a political science department to validate the degree.

After submitting my initial application and not being told a thing about possible obstacles, on two occasions I checked to make sure my “validation” was moving forward appropriately. I cannot be hired by a university until I have the validation, which puts me in limbo: I will not commit to a job outside of teaching, because I expect to be working as a professor come February, 2011. On previous occasions, UFRJ officials told me all was in order. This time, everything was wrong. It seems that other departments will not take responsibility for carrying out what should be, at best, a simple bureaucratic procedure.

I have spent hours chasing down the officials who either have my information or finding out where my dossier is located. I want a copy of the validation’s trajectory within the UFRJ bureaucracy to have a record of the gross incompetence that has occurred: no one informed me that the university was not “competent” to validate the degree, and it spent three months languishing in filing cabinets before they gave me the bad news. When I asked for a record of what has happened to my degree, I was denied. When I asked to look at the record– denied.

Law 9507/97 is regulation for a particularly useful type of access to information–habeas data, literally, “you have the data”–the constitutionally guaranteed right (article 5) to ask for and receive data on you, held by government. Obviously, this is legislation I will use to retrieve my information, but it was telling to hear the attitude of UFRJ officials. Basically: “this information is ours, is secret, and you can’t see it.”

This is the battleground of access to information– changing the political culture of public administration to emphasize the ultimate ownership of citizens over government and its information.

1 Comment

  • jaysus mary and joseph! Welcome to bureaucratic hell! I finally managed to get my work visa yesterday, 11.11.10, ending a process that began on 15.12.09! 11 months and now I can finally return to Brazil and sign my contract. Feeling your pain.

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