Ministries slower and slower to respond to open government requests: study
Ministries are taking longer and longer to respond to requests for information through the Government Information (Public Access) Act. The Institute for Social Innovation and the Open State Foundation concluded this based on their own research and comparative studies from previous years. Currently, Ministries take an average of 161 days to answer a request, while the legal maximum is two months.
In the period studied - October 2020 to September 2021 - Ministries exceeded the two-month deadline in over 80 percent of the nearly 1,000 requests. According to comparative research, that was 61 percent in 2016 and 71 percent in 2019, the two organizations involved in government transparency said.
The Ministries of Justice and Security (188 days on average), Finance (191 days), and Infrastructure and Water Management (206 days) are the slowest in processing these requests for information, which journalists and citizens can submit. The best performing Ministries - Defense and Education, Culture, and Science - also don't meet the legal standard with average response times of 96 and 74 days, respectively.
"These conclusions cry out for a drastic culture change," said Open State Foundation director Serv Wiemers in response to the report titled: Unbearably Slow. "Politicians and civil servants should see a public access request as a compliment, not as a chore. You win back trust with confidence."
According to the researchers, that public access requests are far too large cannot be used as an excuse for the slow processing. Only 14 percent of cases resulted in more than 250 pages provided. Almost 60 percent had a maximum of 50 pages made public.
The figures mentioned above also exclude requests related to the coronavirus. The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare, and Sports handles these differently because there is less time due to the crisis. Public access requests related to the coronavirus have an average response time of 225 days.