By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Organisation for Responsible government says numerous recommendations from civil society on how to improve the Freedom of Information Act has been disregarded by the Christie Administration.
The consolidated list of recommendations provided from civil society and private industry were included in a letter sent to The Tribune, along with information on whether the recommendations were adopted or not.
For instance, ORG recommended that not all records relating to government processes should be exempt from FOIA requests.
“Opinions, advice or recommendations for Cabinet or a Committee should be fully disclosed,” ORG suggested.
Another significant recommendation related to the process by which an information commissioner is appointed.
“The information commissioner should be appointed through measures independent of the government, such as the Judicial Services Committee or a Parliament Select Committee with representation from the opposition,” ORG argued. “Additionally, civil society should be included in the decision-making process whether through membership on the Select Committee or the publication of a short-list of candidates and public feedback on the candidates.”
Despite the widespread support for this recommendation, ORG noted that it was not included in the recently passed FOIA bill.
ORG had recommended that lawmakers included a section in the FOIA act saying: “The Ministry responsible for Freedom of Information Act shall be responsible for funding the public educational programmes aimed at explaining how to use and apply the FOIA. The development and promotion of these programmes shall be carried out in conjunctions with the Information Commissioner and independent Civil Society Organisations.”
This section is not included.
ORG also recommended that when it comes to rights of access to certain information, in the “sunset clause,” 30 years should be reduced to 15 years.