Tracking Timeliness, Transparency, and Trustworthiness: An assessment of the impact of Covid-19 on UK freedom of information laws as an accountability mechanism.
Research Project Aims
During a pandemic full and timely responses to requests for information from public authorities and government departments is more important than ever. By being open and transparent, governments in the UK and bodies with freedom of information obligations, can raise public awareness, trust, and confidence regarding decisions made to tackle the pandemic. Access to information is also essential for ensuring governments and bodies with are held to account for their decisions during this time, and to ensure that incompetence, corruption, or other maladministration is not covered up.
This research tracks how bodies with freedom of information responsibilities responded to freedom of information requests the pandemic e.g. whether disruption of working practices resulted in delay, whether bodies published more or less information. It also allows for an assessment of the impact of delay on freedom of information laws as a mechanism for ensuring accountability, transparency and trustworthiness.
The findings will be used to inform relevant stakeholders e.g. public authorities, Information Commissioners, and Parliaments in the UK of any deleterious impact of delayed and incomplete responses and offer suggestions on how to accommodate disruption to working practices yet maintain responsiveness during any future peaks of the pandemic and any future crises.
This research is funded by the British & Irish Law, Education & Technology Association (BILETA) and the University of East Anglia.
Scholarship, Commentary & Events
Chaired “Freedom of Information 2021” Conference, Holyrood Events (23.11.21)
Covid-19 a contagion risk for right to information laws? published on the Inforrm Blog (10.05.20); republished on the Information Society Policy Blog (21.05.20)
Invited expert, to give oral evidence to the Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee, Scottish Parliament on the Freedom ofInformation (Scotland) Act 2002, 3rd October 2019.
Information access rights in FOIA and FOISA – fit for purpose? EdinburghLaw Review. 2017, 21, 1, p. 55-87.