Search This Blog

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Crossbenchers should insist on evidence based approach to FOI policy

The Canberra Times (Freedom of Information watchdog may be saved but staff have already left) suggests the government is struggling to find votes from the crossbenches to ensure passage of the Freedom of Information Amendment (New Arrangements) Bill.

I hear that an offer was made that if the bill passes, the government will commit to a comprehensive review of the FOI act to commence within three months.

Not hard to spot the flaw in this befuddled approach to policy making that involves acting first then taking a close look at what should be done.  

The review was the first recommendation of the Hawke review that the government has sat on for 15 months. It's needed but before not after demolishing a key element in the 2010 reforms and abolishing altogether the independent monitor advocate and champion of open government.

And if the claimed but not evidenced savings of $10 million over four years is really what this is about, a close look at agency performance might also reveal how to save money in the administration of the FOI act. The Open Australia Foundation has put before the Senate committee inquiring into the bill 17000 pages that document the user experience in the form of correspondence with agencies of hundreds of FOI applicants, providing a unique treasure trove of the legalistic pettifogging gaming that goes on in some agencies. That would be a good place to start.

As indicated at the committee hearing last week the issue of support staff for the commissioners to carry out their functions from 1 January will need attention if the bill does not pass, but hey those genii who came up with the idea of abolishing the OAIC can surely rise to that challenge.

No comments:

Post a Comment