FOI Notes: Research, Germany, France, India, Open Contracting, Algorithms, Cayman Islands, EU, Malawi, G20, US

8 December 2016

Transparency Research: A Brookings report from Vanessa Williamson and Norm Eisen, “The Impact of Open Government: Assessing the Evidence,” reviews the empirical and theoretical literature on the international impact of open government and offers recommendations for policymakers considering open government initiatives. Conclusion:

 In this report, we address the question, “does open government work?” We develop a rubric that organizes what we know about the impact of open government and identifies the contexts in which open govern­ment efforts are likely to be successful. We emphasize that even accessible, important, well-publicized information is not enough to create change if people do not have channels of influence: the power to act individually, or with the help of government agents, or through collective action. We identify a burgeoning body of research that examines how open government initiatives can strengthen the channels of influ­ence necessary to their success, and we make suggestions for research that would further improve our understanding of the potential of open government to achieve its ambitious goals.

Germany: “” is the first German fund for strategic litigation in the field of FOI, announces Fragdenstaat.

India: Former Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi is sponsoring a competition aimed at creating a database with submitted analyses of RTI decisions.

France: A report on “open government” in France (9 pages, in French) is issued by civil society organizations: ANTICOR, April, BLOOM, DemocracyOS France, Fais ta loi, Framasoft, La Quadrature du Net, Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, Regards Citoyens, République citoyenne, SavoirsCom1. Noting France’s current presidency of the OGP, the report says:

Unfortunately, actions do not match the promises, including in the three areas identified as “core priorities” by the French government itself (1. climate change and sustainable development ; 2. transparency, integrity and anti-corruption ; 3. building digital commons), despite the Government’s self-satisfaction. Worse, some decisions, incompatible with democratic progress as promoted by the Open Governement Partnership, are leading France on a dangerous path.

European Union: “In two judgments of 23 November 2016, the Court of Justice of the European Union opens considerably the possibility for the public to access information on pesticides and their effects on the environment,” reports Environment magazine. Also see article by Claudio Mereu and Koen Van Maldegem, attorneys with Field Fisher.

Algorithms: “How to Hold Algorithms Accountable,” by Nicholas Diakopoulos and Sorelle Friedler in MIT Technology Review.

Philippines: News reports on the new FOI executive order in The Star and ABS-CBN.

Open Data: Dustin Homer, Director of Engagement and Partnerships at Development Gateway distills “a few lessons that are important for the wider data-for-development community”

Denmark: How to change the law on access to ministerial advice is addressed in Journalisten.

Cayman Islands: Acting Information Commissioner Cory Martinson writes to Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, informing the judiciary of Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose’s failure to follow an order issued by the commissioner’s office in September, according to The Cayman Compass.

Malawi: The Media and Communications and Legal Affairs committee says the Malawi Human Rights Commission should be given oversight of an access to information law reports the Nyasa Times. A bill is pending.

Open Contracting: Governments need to legislate to open contracting, among other actions, according to research by Hivos and Article 19.

G20: “There is a significant democratic deficit in the G20 since its decisions and actions are not governed by international law and it is not accountable to representative bodies, such as the United Nations,” writes Nancy Alexander in a post on a new website on the G20 created by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

United States: The $619.7 billion defense bill that cleared the House does not grant the Pentagon its request for new exemptions in document release requirements under FOIA, reports Government Executive.

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