Headlines: September 29th, 2010

The Freedom of Information Act has paid for itself many times over by highlighting money being wasted in public services, according to the Information Commissioner. The claim came in a message from Christopher Graham to mark International Right to Know Day, in which he said FOI had a key role to play in helping to deliver greater transparency and accountability.

The Right to Know Day aims to raise awareness of individuals’ rights to information held by public authorities and to gain better understanding of how public money is spent. In his message Mr. Graham said: “Freedom of Information shines a torch into the dark corners of public service, identifying wasted money and duplication of effort. Freedom of Information must have paid for itself many times over in the beneficial impact it has had on reducing unnecessary spending – and that contribution can only increase in the years ahead.”

He said all organisations, whether in the public or private sectors, needed to invest in information rights and where organisations fell down on their obligations they did so at the cost of destroying citizen and consumer trust. Mr. Graham added that in the current era of reduced budgets and increased concern for transparency and accountability, information rights were a front line service and not just a mere back office function. “We all have to do more for less, but much is expected of all of us working in the information rights field,” he said.