To what extent have openness and transparency increased for
citizens and customers?
I assume that NGOs and citizens/customers involvement have been mentioned by
you. There have been many contributions from administration and science to
the program of the conference, but I could not see that a NGO,
customers/citizens have been invited to give their experience and views.
However the Tenth Joint Declaration by the Four Special International
Mandates for Protecting Freedom of Expression, 3. February 2010 focuses on implementation
of international standards:
Although great strides have been made over the last decade in
recognising the right to information, the fourth challenge recognises
that much still remains to be done... Many laws that have been passed
fail to meet minimum international standards, and implementation efforts
remain too weak in many countries: http://merlin.obs.coe.int/iris/2010/5/article1
I would like to compare Germany and Norway from a user perspective and look
at what global ranking of access to information laws means to show the
In Norway an electronic public record database for the civil service (www.OEP.no)
was launched in May 2010. Since its launch, all citizens can access the
public records from one common site. All documents sent from or received by
ministries, directorates, state agencies and county governors can be
accessed through OEP, where everyone can make searches in the public
journals. Documents are sent electronically from the unit in charge to those
who make a request for a specific document or file.
This makes it easy for citizens and administration to deal with access to
documents applications: documents can be found by applicants within minutes
and are sent electronically within 3 days free of charge. An free ombudsman
elected and responsible to parliament has the necessary authority to support
applicants free of charge. The result is 3385
requests per 100 00 inhabitants in 2011.
In Germany it is time consuming for applicants describing the document and
choosing the right agency/department/organisation. The receipt of the
application will always say that costs are dependent on the actual work
involved which can not be guessed in advance. An answer is due in 4 weeks.
If the answer is no, no time limits are given for the following complaints.
The Freedom of information commissioners advice to the administration can be
ignored. Adminitrative courts are expensive for applicants, but are "free"
for the individual agency, billing the state/taxpayer for costs. The result
is less then 4 requests per 100 000 inhabitants
So following international standards improve transparency from the
citizens and customers perspective.
Answer: 26. May 2013: "Implementation of FoI laws is the critical step,
passing the law just the necessary one. The difference remains in many cases
significant. Monitoring of performance by governments themselves and/or NGOs
will sharpen awareness of the need for improvement."