Information Commissioner, as independent body for protection, monitoring and promotion of the right to information access, supported by the British Embassy, conducted the project “Evaluation and self-assessment of the implementation of the Act on Access to Information: Development of Methodology and Pilot Implementation 2014-2015.” In the project implementation participated is the first Scottish Information Commissioner, Mr. Kevin Dunion.
The purpose of the project was to develop a methodological evaluation tool and self-assessment of the implementation of the Right to Access to Information Act (hereinafter: the Act), which would ensure a better quality of inspection and a greater level of protection of the right to access information. The basic outcome of the project is the development of an instrument – a questionnaire for assessing the quality of the implementation of the Act on Access to Information and the development of an Action Plan Pattern for Increasing Transparency and Openness.
The methodological tool developed within the project covers the questionnaire for evaluating the process of solving requests for access to information and reuse of information, and fulfilling the obligation of proactive disclosure, public consultation and securing the public’s body sessions or compliance with the law (see Appendix 2). The questionnaire is tailored for two purposes – it is an instrument of inspection control and a quality management instrument. The questionnaire as an instrument of inspection supervision has the purpose of facilitating the Commissioner to inform the implementation of surveillance mechanisms and serve as a means of assessing compliance with the Law and identifying the activities that public authorities should take to improve the situation. The questionnaire is sent to the public authorities together with the announcement of the implementation of the inspection supervision for the purpose of collecting data on compliance of the public authorities with the Law on the Right of Access to Information. The questionnaire as a quality management tool serves the authorities of the public authorities to independently assess the compliance of their conduct with the law (self-assessment) and to develop a plan of activities to improve their work in the field of providing access to information, either independently or with our assistance, either independently or during the inspection
The project took place in five stages. In the first phase, in October 2014, the first version of the questionnaire and the project justification was made. In the second phase of the project, in November 2014, testing of the first version of the questionnaire was carried out in co-operation with government bodies willing to accept the test, and which showed the experience and quality in the implementation of the legal provisions so far. The pilot study was attended by the Ministry of Administration, the Ministry of Tourism, the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund and the Varaždin County, and their feedback and suggestions contributed significantly to the further development of the questionnaire. In the third phase of the project, in December 2014, a prefinal version of the questionnaire, together with the guidelines for implementation, was prepared, so that in the fourth phase of the project, in February 2015, a self-assessment workshop and self-assessment workshop was held in the selected district of the public authority body. Thirty bodies of public authority were invited to the workshop, where the need to improve compliance with the legal provisions was noted. The workshops were answered by 20 bodies, and 10 completed questionnaires were submitted, which was sent to the bodies by the Information Commissioner prior to the workshop. The questionnaire is in line with the Act on Amendments to the Right of Access to Information Act (OG 85/15), which entered into force on 9 August 2015, and a form for the drafting of the Action Plan was drawn up. The use of the questionnaire in the implementation of the inspection has begun.
Attached is the Explanation of the Project with additional information on the questionnaire itself, its role and purpose, questionnaire and form of the action plan. The attached questionnaire for inspection supervision will be sent by the employees of the Information Commissioner to the public authorities where the inspection supervision needs to be observed. Other public authorities are invited to complete a self-assessment of conformity compliance with the law, identifying possible disadvantages and problems, and ensuring the elimination of irregularities through the action plan.