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Re: [open-government] Data Transparency Presentation

From: Tim McNamara <paperless@timmcnamara.co.nz>
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 2010 08:41:00 +1200
Message-ID: <AANLkTin5Gcs-tS7L6Fqi6J5LAsKneNvhHk4cv5a+vtYK@mail.gmail.com>
To: Brian Gryth <briangryth@gmail.com>
Cc: open-government@lists.okfn.org, eGovIG IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>, citycamp@forums.e-democracy.org, openhouseproject@googlegroups.com
2010/9/22 Brian Gryth <briangryth@gmail.com>

> Thanks to everyone that has replied.  Great stuff.
> I have one additional questions.  Does anyone know the average costs of
> complying with a open records/freedom of information request for
> non-sensitive information?  Alternatively, does anyone know of some kind of
> report or study that has compared the cost of open records compliance and
> data transparency/open data?
> Cheers,
> Brian

Hi Brian,

New Zealand's Ministry of Justice provides guidance to departments on
cost-recovery. This is NZD 38 per half hour for staff time, plus costs of
photocopying, etc.[1] Other than that, I can only speak from my personal
experience as an ex New Zealand public servant who has processed several
hundred requests for official information.

My impression is that the biggest cost is opportunity.

There are a few parts of the process:
 - assessing the question: Is it relevant to our department? Do we need to
consult with others? Do we understand what is being asked? This might
involve a follow-up call, meeting or email to clarify the request.
 - collation of information
 - drafting the response: seemingly endless photocopying, QA

In a small policy team, a large request can suck up someone's week of more.
That could be a quarter of the capacity of that team. In a politically
charge request, there might be several amendments to the response made in
consultation with the Minister's office.

Bigger departments have specialist information managers to keep track of
which requests have been made to make the process more efficient. However, I
found that this can just add more bureaucratic steps to the process.

Tim McNamara
  Masters Candidate in Public Policy, Victoria University of Wellington
  Identi.ca / Twitter @timClicks

Received on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 22:19:21 UTC

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