Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Freedom at a cost?

At yesterday's RIN Freedom of Information workshop an interesting position from Dr. Harriet Jones.

As FOI is implemented over time, it becomes harder and harder for hard-pressed officials to fulfil FOI requests within the legislated time limit. Those obligations take priority over the systematic review of records being transferred to national archives, an extremely important task which gets hopelessly de-prioritised. Inevitably, standards suffer, and neither process is satisfactory, so that researchers end up waiting so long for requests to be filled that they stop using FOI; and the quality of the records that end up getting transferred to archives deteriorates.

Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information said that around 100,000 FOI requests are made a year.

But surprisingly few academics are doing so, said Professor Duncan Tanner of Bangor University. Does that mean most historians are either working on 30 year old history - or working on partial information sets about more contemporary issues?

The Campaign for Freedom of Information blog is here.

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