The international trend of passing access to information legislation continues, with approximately 90 countries claiming a statutory right to information. However, many of these countries' agencies are failing to fully and effectively implement their law, and at present there are few objective means of analyzing and addressing this critical problem. While there have been a number of initiatives related to model laws and promoting key statutory principles, as well as important studies undertaken to assess government compliance with its law and the extent to which persons who request information can receive it, there remains a dearth of information regarding the middle stage of establishing a right of access to information — the law's implementation.
In this regard, The Carter Center began development of the access to information legislation Implementation Assessment Tool (IAT), which serves the dual purpose of diagnosing the extent to which the public administration is capacitated to respond to requests and to provide information, as well as providing an implementation roadmap for the government. The IAT is designed to assess the specific activities/inputs that the public administration has engaged — or in some cases failed to achieve — in furtherance of a well-implemented law. It is deliberately designed not to focus on the sufficiency of the legal framework, the user side of the equation, or the overall effectiveness of the access to information regime. The IAT is constructed to serve as an input for each public agency in which it is applied, and not as a comparative index across countries.
The objectives of the access to information legislation implementation assessment tool (IAT) are to:
Over the past few years, the Center's Global Access to Information Program has developed the methodology, indicators, and scoring system for the IAT, and has tested the tool in 11 countries over three pilot phases. Through expert meetings and consultations, the IAT has evolved into a tool that can be applied to identify implementation progress and areas for additional focus. The Carter Center currently is finalizing the IAT by revising the indicators, definitions, and scaling, and will publish and disseminate a final report, capturing the lessons learned in developing the IAT and overall findings from the pilot phases in the coming months. Ultimately, it is our hope that the IAT will serve to encourage and support stakeholders (government, civil society, scholars, donors, etc.) to be more effective at advancing the right of access to information.
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