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Letter to Scottish Parliament Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee
The Scottish Government has committed itself to principles of transparency, openness, and accessibility. The First Minister committed her Government to be an "outward looking Government which is more open and accessible to Scotland's peoples than ever before" and for her Government and public services: "to be known for the quality of our relationship with Scotland's communities". Following this statement, and with the support from civil society in Scotland, the Scottish Government successfully applied for Subnational Pioneer Status with the international Open Government Partnership.
As members of the Open Government Network for Scotland, we fully support this ambition.
However, with this status comes both the recognition and responsibility to be a global exemplar of open government. One of the vital mechanisms for assuring Scotland's people of this status is a properly functioning freedom of information law. Recently, concerns have been raised from across society in Scotland regarding the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. Including:
- A coalition of journalists from across the media landscape in Scotland raising concerns about the treatment and management of freedom of information requests.
- Motions passed by the Scottish Parliament condemning the record of response to freedom of information requests.
- Statements from the outgoing Scottish Information Commissioner.
These concerns are at a sufficient level, and represent a significantly wide array of society that we believe the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 should be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee.
But important as it is, it is also our view that effective Freedom of Information is merely the tip of the iceberg to ensure transparency and trust in Scotland's public institutions. In due course, this may merit a parliamentary inquiry into the transparency of Scotland's institutions, building on an initial examination of FOI by the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee.
As members of the Open Government Network, we call for the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee to review of the effectiveness of FOISA 2002 and stand ready to inform this.
|Organisations||Individuals (members of Open Government Scotland network)|
|Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
Glasgow Council for Voluntary Organisations (GCVS)
Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP)
Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire (VAER)
Open Rights Group (ORG)
Plus Perth and Kinross
Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA)
The Democratic Society
|Ruchir Shah, SCVO
Robin McAlpine, Common Weal
Helen MacNeil, GCVS
Richard Kerley, CSPP
Anne Kidd, VAER
Matthew Rice, ORG Scotland
Susan Scott, Plus Perth and Kinross
Janine Rennie, Wellbeing Scotland
Shaben Begum, SIAA
Eliot Stark (STRIVE)