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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Disappointed applicant but hard to toss this professional reasoning.

A brief comment on a Freedom of Information knock-back in the news over the last few days.

The Department for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy refused Tech Wired access to the Panel of Experts Report on the National Broadband Network, primarily on grounds that the document was prepared for submission to cabinet, and in addition that it satisfied the internal working document exemption (some other exemptions were cited as well).There is virtually no chance of getting access to a document like this while, as is the case here, the matter is still under consideration within government and no decision has been made. (After decisions have been taken the cabinet document exemption- which doesn't require consideration of the public interest- would still apply to the Report.)

Thanks to Tech Wired the 17-pagenotice of determination is here. While you might think it goes on a bit, this is as good an example as you will find of a highly professional fully compliant, dot every i, cross every t determination. And why the real costs of the time involved in FOI administration are what they are. With all due respect to Nikki Vajrabukka, Acting Assistant Secretary, Corporate and Coordination Branch, this doesn't look like a document you sit down and reel off the top of the head, without some very skilled input.

One pleasing factor was that the public interest factors considered and relied upon to claim the internal working document exemption [40-45] are much more compelling and realistic than those old, tired highly questionable claims of harm to frankness and candour or public confusion- a hopeful sign that the professionals within government have finally binned them?

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