Freedom of Information: Implementing to Succeed In The Long Term Andrew Ecclestone Office of the Ombudsmen New Zealand Jakarta - 19 November 2008 The execution of Laws
is more important than the making of them Thomas Jefferson, May 1789 First question: What are you trying to achieve by introducing a Freedom of Information Act?
Outcomes Better services for the public Reduction in wasted spending and inefficiency Higher quality public administration Better record keeping and information management Increased public and international confidence in government
Saving Money - BBC The BBC has saved nearly 5,000 a day by cutting back on taxi perks for daytime newsreaders, figures released under the FOI Act show. Presenters including Natasha Kaplinsky and Sophie Raworth, who are said to earn more than 200,000 a year, must now pay for their own transport to and from work. In the 2006/07 financial year, the [BBC] spent 17.7m on taxis and private hire cars, compared with 19.8m the previous
year. 11.05.07 The Daily Star Benefits - Uganda Education funding - graft and corruption Only 20 per cent of funds sent out from central government were reaching schools, and the median school was receiving nothing. Most of the money being captured by corrupt officials in the local agencies managing the funds.
Parents knew little about this problem, which had continued for years. Ugandan government launched a new strategy to combat corruption. Published data on monthly transfers of grants to each school district in national newspapers and their local-language editions. Primary schools and district offices were also required to post notices of actual receipts of funds for everyone to see. Significantly improved performance of the grant program.
Median school now received 82 percent of its entitlement. Proportion of funds lost to corruption fell from 80 percent to just 20 percent. Record keeping: Ireland no evidence that less detailed information being recorded orcertain information deliberately omitted. minutes of management advisory meetings recorded in greater detail than previously.
In onecase minutes were now being recorded where beforethe FOI Act no formal minutes were kept. Information Commissioner of Ireland, July 2001 Benefits: Ireland One issue raised recurrently by public bodies is that the processing of FOI requests is a significant resource burden...While these concerns are understandable, they illustrate a key point: the tendency of many public bodies to regard FOI as an exclusively
operational matter...To focus on this aspect alone is to lose sight of...one of the principal benefits of FOI... to uphold the citizens faith in the administrative and democratic process. With this in mind, the public service should strive towards providing as much information as possible outside of the FOI Act...release outside of the Act...can assist the public body through avoiding the formal time and resource consuming process entailed. Information Commissioner of Ireland, June 2002 New Zealand Law Commission
Since 1982 there has been a fundamental change in attitudes... Ministers and officials have learned to live with much greater openness. The assumption that policy advice will eventually be released under the Act has in our view improved the quality and transparency of that advice. New Zealand Law Commission, 1997
New Zealand - Purposes a) To increase progressively the availability of official information to the people of New Zealand in order(i) To enable their more effective participation in the making and administration of laws and policies; and (ii) To promote the accountability of Ministers of the Crown and officials, and thereby to enhance respect for the law and to promote the good government of New Zealand
b) To provide for proper access by each person to official information relating to that person c) To protect official information to the extent consistent with the public interest and the preservation of personal privacy. Official Information Act, 1982, s.4 Purposes - Finland
Finland 1999 Act to promote openness and good practice in information management to provide individuals and corporations with an opportunity to monitor the exercise of public authority and use of public resources to freely form an opinion
to influence the exercise of public authority to protect their rights and interests. S. 3 Indonesia FOI Act - Objectives Article 3 This law is aimed at the following: a. To secure the right of the citizens to know the plan to make public
policies, public policy programs, and the process to make public decisions, as well as the reason of making a public decision. b. To encourage the participation of the society in the process of making a public policy; c.
To increase the active role of the people in making public policies and to manage the Public Agencies properly; d. To materialize good governance, ie. transparent, effective and efficient, accountable and responsible. e.
To know the rationale of a public policy that affects the life of the people; f. To develop sciences and to sharpen the mind of the nation; and/or g. To enhance the information management and service at Public
Agency circles, so as to produce good quality information service. Culture Change Secrecy Openness Second question: How are you going to reach your desired destination?
or What strategies and tools do you need to succeed? Vision Smooth and effective implementation
Senior leadership in each agency Well trained Information Managers All staff aware of their FOI responsibilities Clear procedures and guidelines Consistency of response across public authorities Improved records management
Transparency in implementation Participation by the public and civil society Greater openness and publication of information Implementation Planning Development of : 1. Global Implementation Plan with time lines and
milestones for Government at large; and 2. Model Action Plan to assist individual authorities with implementation, also with time lines based on the Implementation Plan. Implementation Planning Steps
1. 2. 3. 4. FOI Implementation Steering Committee (FOISC), consisting of a senior member from each Ministry and Portfolio this high level of Committee Members, approved by Cabinet facilitates
Government participation. Implementation Plan with Government-wide target dates and Project Manager to ensure the time lines were met. Baseline Assessments sent to all Authorities for completion. Model Action Plan - to assist individual authorities with implementation and time lines based. Implementation
Planning Steps 5. Implementation Planning Committee created to ensure deadlines within the Implementation Plan are met. 6. Briefings held for all Ministers, Chief Officers,
Senior Members of Government provides a basic understanding and familiarization of FOI. 7. Annual Sunshine Week to educate the public as to their rights under the FOI Law. 8.
Information Mangers Network to facilitate communication between the FOI Unit and IMs and between all IMs. Requests and proactive publication Tools for locating information held by government
Australian DPMC file list Australian DPMC file list NZ - Directory of Official Information UK - Information Asset Register The right to request information
is critical, but it can be slow More than 25% of OIA complaints relate to delays or extensions Average number of days to complete an OIA investigation Affirmative publication
Mexican Federal FOI Law Web portal for access to information required to be published Expenses claims - Panama Proactive publication Department for Education and
Skills - Disclosure Log DIA - Gambling Act Review Appropriate Use of IT Records and information management within the public authority Systems to enable tracking of requests within each public authority. Collating and preparing reports.
On-line Affirmative and Proactive Publication. These are essential to ensure and assess compliance with FOI Legislation. Challenges Records Management Without accurate, complete and timely records AND the means of
finding and releasing information, an access regime is bound to fail Records are at the heart of any information regime. Staff need to comply with the law Public Participation This is one of the key fundamentals in all FOI Legislation.
There needs to be a process for ensuring the participation of the public in this critical development. Ensure the publics views are obtained so a system that meets their needs is designed. Effective implementation is a joint partnership between the holders of information (Government) and applicants (the public). Public Education
Whose role? Information Commission, Government, Civil Society? Make the Implementation Plan available at all public libraries and on a central FOI website inviting comment from the public.
Publish the minutes of all FOI Committee meetings on the FOI website. Publish a Consultation Paper on the proposed FOI Regulations and invite comments from the public for a 1 month period.
Grant interviews to the media when requested. Organise an Annual Sunshine Week informative public education events, giveaways, etc. Lessons to be learnt
Need to ensure networking of Information Managers and ensure they act as Change Agents within each
Ministry/Agency/Department. Training must be comprehensive and sustained. Need the support from the Heads of agencies and other key individuals in agency, e.g. legal officers. Must involve the public in implementation activities. Must address inconsistent Legislation and the need for effective FOI Regulations. Need enhanced guidance resources and ensuring sharing of experiences from other jurisdictions. IT systems need to be utilized appropriately including addressing
electronic documents. Must be creative in the dissemination of information to the public information delivery. Implementation strategy Increase awareness of Act and need for cultural change Audit and adapt your record keeping Train your staff - and keep training
them! Build networks to support officials Keep in touch with stakeholders Monitoring and review - learning from requests to improve your proactive publication and procedures Leadership & ownership
Resources Benefits to expect Better record keeping and better internal communication Fewer appeals = saving money Better decision making More informed press Better public understanding of your work The Act will help transform the culture of Government from
one of secrecy to one of openness.By doing so, public confidence in the processes of government should be raised, and the quality of decision making by the Government enhanced. Home Secretary, Jack Straw, 2nd reading FOI Bill, 7/12/99 Better decisions the Act has had a significant impact on the quality of decision making. It has improved the public sectors professionalism and the capacity
of its officers to develop, analyse, and articulate policy that stands up to scrutiny. John Cain, former Premier of Victoria More informed press Currently, all Authority papers are circulated to the Press... The conscientious journalist...will have worked through the papers in search usable items in a process which inevitably imparts to him a great deal of knowledge which he could not come by in any other way...
[this] has led, over the years, to an increasingly wellinformed press and a perceptible improvement in its understanding and therefore its treatment of the Authority...any stemming of this flow of knowledge can only result in an ill-informed, suspicious and therefore critical news coverage of all aspects of the Authoritys work Welsh Water Authority, 1984 Fewer appeals Driving examiners now explain test results to candidates. As result, letters of enquiry
following tests to the Driving Standards Agency have fallen by 65%, reducing costs by 65,000 Citizens Charter, 1st report, 1992 6 tips Implement as a process of permanent change, not just a project for the next 2 or 3 years. Focus on building systems and support for the long term. Will your operation of the Act generate a return on
your investment? Prioritise operation for new records, not old. Senior ownership of implementation and when in force. Support junior staff who disclose embarrassing information correctly under the law. Pulling teeth or running the tap? Dont make it a painful process!
Terima kasih Further advice and reading UK www.foi.gov.uk www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk www.cfoi.org.uk foia.blogspot.com NZ www.ombudsmen.parliament.nz
International freedominfo.org www.article19.org www.humanrightsinitiative.org
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