June 12th, 2012
Mexico and Norway: Government transparency through technology
By Whitney Evans
A vital aspect of success in freedom of information is the transition from the paper age to digital. While the United States was once a leader in freedom of information legislation and implementation, we still remain somewhat rooted in backlogs and delays, much of which could be solved. The Office of Government Information Services is working to rectify this. OGIS is working with government agencies to move documents online and make access to public documents consistent across agencies. The agency also has an online database where people can view cases that have been filed with OGIS, along with the case’s progress and results.
Two countries for OGIS to study in the move toward online transparency are Mexico and Norway. Both have already made significant progress with adapting their respective laws to the digital age. In Mexico, where official freedom of information laws are only a decade old, there are INFO-DF and INFOMEX-DF. These websites allow interested parties in any country online access to public documents and search through previous FOI requests and the government’s response.
While it would be easy to point to Mexico’s relatively recent freedom of information laws, Norway’s public records law was implemented in 1970, with an update in 2003. Norway’s website is similar to Mexico’s, with information available for the public to access and share. They’ve also made public information available via Twitter. Additionally, the site boasts a Data hotel, where public bodies can more easily make information accessible online.
Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or on twitter – @whitevs7
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