Investigate what matters to your community!
The Freedom of Information Act of 2000 is based upon the idea of "Your Right to Know". [cite] In early praise for the Act, Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said that "[FOIA] will signal a new relationship between government and the people." Later, as he came to fully appreciate the weight of scrutiny, he would call the FOIA one of his biggest mistakes, noting that "the power it handed to the media was gigantic."
At Our Community Matters, we believe in open government and open governance. And, where it matters, we should become citizen journalists, using the tools available to us to investigate the issues that matter and work to inform the rest of our community. Indeed, many of our articles rely upon <articles:FOIA.tag> in order to establish the facts about an issue.
We believe that access to government information should begin with the assumption that we, the people, have the right to know what is done in our name. Unfortunately, many of the documents that might interest us are never published; and, many of the decision processes are opaque and not subject to public scrutiny,
We are not experts on the law. But we don't have to be. Making requests under the Freedom of Information Act is a simple process. And, with a little guidance, you too can use FOI to help progress your own investigations into the matters that interest you and your community.
OCM is planning on holding small workshops where we will help people who have a shared interest in an issue learn how to:
- identify classes of documents and information that are likely to exist that;
- understand what you might reasonably expect to be provided to you under the law;
- identify the custodians of those documents;
- draft, submit and track requests for that information using the FOIA;
- be prepared to progress internal appeals; and,
- progress to appeal with the Information Commissioner's Office.
We all have the right to ask questions of our government. And, it not the questions that are likely to be embarrassing; it is the answers compelled under the law. Shine some light on what matters; after all, sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Are you interested?