Policy Advice 1

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					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 or…certain
  information…deliberately omitted.”

• “minutes of management advisory meetings …
  recorded in greater detail than previously.”

• “In one…case minutes were now being
  recorded where before…the 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 citizen’s
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    to promote openness and good practice in
1999        information management
Act
           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.   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.
2.   Implementation Plan with Government-wide target
     dates and Project Manager to ensure the time lines
     were met.
3.   Baseline Assessments – sent to all Authorities for
     completion.
4.   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 IM’s and
      between all IM’s.
     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 public’s 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          • Leadership &
  need for cultural change
                                           ownership
• Audit and adapt your record
  keeping                                • Resources
• 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
            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 sector’s 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 well-
informed 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 Authority’s
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?
Don’t 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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posted:9/14/2012
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