The Verdict on Freedom of Information
Last night’s Cardigan Continuum meeting proved to be very interesting with discussion around the arguments for and against Freedom of Information. The consensus seemed to be that those at the meeting were not convinced by either the argument that FOI cost too much, or that it was only used by journalists fishing for a story. And, although a ‘chilling effect’ was recognised, it was not felt to be directly attributable to FOI.
Eventually then, the verdict as to whether or not FOI had met its stated objectives was as follows, although bear in mind it is based solely on anecdotal evidence and a few glasses of wine….
1) Increased openness and transparency – NOT MET
2) Increased accountability – MET
3) Increased trust and participation in decision making – NOT MET, indeed we were unsure how FOI could ever be a mechanism for increasing participation in decision making.
4) Quality of decision making – NOT MET
Finally, though, although it was not designed with this specifically in mind, there was agreement that FOI had led to a higher profile for and more investment in records management.
The meeting also brought us a new face and an international visitor, all the way from Australia and the Recordkeeping Roundtable. Both were very welcome as indeed is everyone interested in the topic under discussion. We are aware that new members may be a bit daunted by the thought of trying to find us in the pub so we will be taking some photos at the next meeting to produce a rogues’ gallery for identification purposes and will also be trying to design some badges.
Whilst we are on the subject of administrative matters, this is advance notice that there will be no face to face meeting in August (something to do with a sports event), but that otherwise it will be business as usual. And so, the Twitter chat on FOI will take place at 8pm on Monday 28th May. Then, the next face to face meeting will be on 11th June to avoid the Jubilee Bank Holidays. The text under consideration will be the new Archives and Records Association Code of Conduct and we will meet at 6.30pm at the Marquis of Granby as usual.