Effective Open Government: Improving Public Access to Government Information

29 Pages Posted: 29 May 2012

See all articles by David Banisar

David Banisar

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression

Date Written: March 29, 2005


Openness and transparency is now recognized as an essential part of any modern government. An open government backed by a properly implemented and working freedom of information regime provides many benefits to government bodies as well as to citizens.

Nearly sixty countries around the world have adopted comprehensive access to information laws, including all but two OECD member countries. The laws are substantially similar but are significant differences in the structures and effects of the laws, reflecting the countries’ unique legal heritages.

The legal right to information is not limited to these comprehensive laws. Every country has a web of legislation including laws on archives, environmental protection, data protection and privacy, state secrets, and media which can affect access both positively and negatively.

But the adopting of these laws is not the end of the story. Like all other laws, the laws and their implementation need to be periodically reviewed to ensure that they are working in an effective manner and take into account changes in government practices, legislation, technology and society.

This paper provides guidance on developing and implementing access to information laws, specifically relating to OECD countries.

Keywords: transparency, foia, foi, rti, expression

Suggested Citation

Banisar, David, Effective Open Government: Improving Public Access to Government Information (March 29, 2005). OECD Working Paper, 2005, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2069870

David Banisar (Contact Author)

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression ( email )

60 Farringdon Road
London, EC1R 1UQ
United Kingdom

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