FOI Notes: India, Funding, PPPs, Australia, US, UK, OGP, UNIDO, Open Contracting, Big Data

22 December 2015

India: An analysis of the recent ruling of the Supreme Court concerning the Reserve Bank of India says the decision mandating disclosures “is likely to have implications on other regulators overseeing capital markets and insurance as well. The LiveMint story was written by Shreeja Sen and Remya Nair. Also see column on the ruling by Madabhushi Sridhar in The Hans India.

Funding: The Hewlett Foundation blogs about “our updated strategy, which builds on the past and aims to make our transparency efforts more effective in leading to government accountability.”

Open Contracting: The Open Contracting Partnership is seeking feedback and suggestions on our draft contracting policy here and our draft access to information policy here.

Public-Private Partnerships: The deadline has been extended until the end of February for a public consultation process currently going on at the World Bank to develop a framework for disclosure in PPP projects.

Australia: A report by the broadcast network SBS says the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has completed 352 formal reviews of agency FOI decisions, setting aside 141 (40 per cent). OAIC in an additional 38 cases (11 per cent) mostly agreed with the agency FOI decisions, but disagreed with the reasoning. The story also recounts the so-far unsuccessful efforts to move the functions of the office elsewhere. The likelihood that the office will be preserved is assessed in a blog post on Open and Shut by Peter Timmins.

United Kingdom: A FOI request for the home secretary’s internet browsing history has been rejected on the grounds that it was “fishing for information” and vexatious. The denial letter to Gilmour from the home office can be read on the What Do They Know website.

United Kingdom: Paul Gibbons, who blogs as FOIMan, explores the costs of public relations vs. the costs of FOI in PDP’s Freedom of Information Journal.

UK: The FOIA “is working well and does not need to be fundamentally reformed” according to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, The Independent reports. Matthew Hancock, a close ally of the Chancellor, is against introducing fees for FOI requests or restricting access to government information any further,” says The Daily Mail.

United States: More than 20 organizations committed to government openness and accountability calling on the Office of Management and Budget to comply with presidential directives on open government and to issue a required and overdue Open Government Plan.

United States: The US FOIA ombudsman blog addresses the qualities of a good response to an appeals letter.

United States: VICE News reporter and author Jason Leopold at a Rutgers University event gave tips for filing FOIA requests creatively and successfully, his most surprising finds, and the high-profile mistake that led to his fixation on FOIA. Hear podcast.

OGP: “It’s a commonly heard criticism that governments are meeting the letter but not the spirit of OGP, and this review certainly seems to support it,” writes Tim Hughes, Open Government Programme Manager at Involve and coordinator of UK Open Government Network. In a post on the OGP blog, he also says, “Opportunities for civil society to be involved in creating or implementing action plans also often don’t appear to be spilling over into genuine collaboration or empowerment. “

OGP: Read “reflections” by Suneeta Kaimal, civil society co-chair of the Open Government Partnership and Deputy Director of Revenue Watch Institute.

UNIDO: The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) creates a new site providing details on all ongoing programmes and projects. The Open Data Platform was officially presented at the 16th session of the UNIDO General Conference taking place in Vienna this week.

Big Data: An Institute of Development Studies Policy Briefing written by Stephen Spratt recommends:

Establish a United Nations (UN) panel of social scientists, ethicists, legal and technical experts, to design a Declaration of Data Rights, to balance privacy with the potential benefits data could bring for people from all countries. It should enshrine citizens’ rights to access data on their government’s activities in the process and a citizen’s right to see and control the information held about them, by governments and corporations.

Big Data: An overview on “10 Big Data Use Cases Everyone Must Read,” by Bernard Marr, in Data Science Central.

Open Contracting: An article by Gavin Hayman, “Open contracting awakens: Will the light side in government contracting win?”

Pakistan: Umar Cheema in The International News reports: “Punjab was quick to pass Right to Information (RTI) law taking cue from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the provincial government is frustratingly slow in its implementation with bureaucracy posing resistance to the RTI Commission through cutting budget, trainings and culture of secrecy.”

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