“I Believe In Open is a national movement to increase government transparency in Canada. We’re organizing citizens to push politicians to make five commitments…”
1. Support reforms that increase government transparency and accountability.
2. Make campaign promises specific and measurable, and report progress on promises and their metrics at least semi-annually.
3. Publish the content of his or her daily schedule, including meetings with lobbyists and special interest groups.
4. Support reforms allowing free access to scientific and survey data gathered by government institutions.
5. Support reforms that make it easier for Canadians to obtain government information they have a right to know.
We know most about human history for times and places where people wrote things down, what they wrote down was kept, and we can still read what they wrote. Paper is pretty fragile really but seemingly digital records are even more fragile.
“In one study published in the journal Science, 13% of Internet references in scholarly articles were inactive after only 27 months.” 1
I have recently become interested in the UK Web Archiving Consortium. This is a publicly funded consortium whose members include the National Archives and the British Library. They archive “important” blogs and websites, not necessarily official ones, take for example the “Not the Alan Milburn” blog:
Sometimes it’s interesting to see what a politician said then compared to what they are saying now or you might want to record the terms and conditions page for an offer that seems to good to be true. If you just want to archive one page as it is now then why not check out http://www.webcitation.org.
The Accounts and Audit (Wales) Regulations 2005 require that accounts and other documents of local authorities in Wales must be available for public inspection (by electors of that authority) for 20 working days before the date appointed by the auditor. The Wales Audit Office have recently published a list of dates in response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Response email from Wales Audit Office
Dates of Inspection for Public Authorities in Wales
The inspection period runs for twenty working days from the date listed in the document (15 for probation trusts and probation boards).
The list includes inspection dates for:
- fire authorities
- joint committees
- local authorities
- national park authorities
- pension funds
- police authorities
- probation boards
Get your MP to sign this Early Day Motion: EDM 1637 – Transparency in Lobbying
“That this House notes the strong public cynicism about the influence of corporate lobbyists on British politics; further notes that individuals and organisations engaging in lobbying activities are able to do so effectively hidden from public scrutiny; remains concerned that lobbyists are not subject to levels of scrutiny similar to that which political parties and politicians have been subject since 2000; believes that greater transparency over the activities of lobbyists and their relations with hon. Members is needed to help restore trust in hon. Members and Parliament; and therefore calls for a mandatory register of individuals and organisations that are involved in lobbying hon. Members and civil servants and the introduction of an enforceable code of ethics for lobbying activities to ensure their transparency.”
103 MPs have already signed up.
You can write to your MP using http://www.writetothem.com/
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This request for a copy of a set of byelaws highlights the strange situation that people in the UK are bound by rules set at local level varying from one area to another but have no easy way of finding out what they are.
Surely, something needs to be done to address this.
The University of Oxford have recently released the ‘rules of the Boat Race’ in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The Joint Understanding limits training in term-time to 20 hours a week, sets out who can and cannot participate in the race and even reuires disclosure of financial support received by crew members.
“No bursaries or other grants, scholarships, gifts, payments or loans, whether in cash or kind, guarantees or equivalent indirect financing shall be funded or offered to squad members, either by the Clubs, their affiliated organisations or their members, or by any other body with a sporting purpose except with the agreement of the Panel.”
The University of Cambridge received a similar request but stated that they did not have a copy of the Joint Understanding.
Request for Joint Understanding regulating Boat Race and response from Oxford
Northern Rock undertakings are exempt due to Part 6 of this statutory instrument:
Nortern Rock Transfer Order
The NHS Openness Code (1995) sets out the basic principles for public access to information about the NHS. It was intended to ensure
greater access by the public. Even though the code predates the Freedom of Information Act 2000 it is still possible to refer to the code when requesting information from health authorities.
NHS Openness Code