Open government a myth

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The Independent Online
Public bodies are failing to meet government guidelines on openness, a survey showed yesterday. More than a quarter of organisations contacted fell short of the standards enshrined in their published commitments to open government.

According to the Press Gazette survey, 50 government departments and quangos were asked for information, which the public is entitled to under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

But results showed only 11 departments replied "quickly and willingly", 25 responded only "adequately", some giving information after being prompted to reply, and 11 failed to comply with the code by providing "wrong or inadequate" information. Some did not give any information in their responses and three refused to reply at all.

The Code of Practice was introduced in 1994 when the Government resisted calls for a Freedom of Information Act.

Press Gazette reported that those organisations which showed good practice included the Foreign Office, the Department of the Environment, Oftel and the Department of Trade and Industry.