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The Impact of the Freedom of Information Act on Central Government in the UK

The UK Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 was passed with the intention of making government more transparent, accountable and effective. It has led to a number of high-profile stories, from MPs' expenses to Heathrow expansion and the Cabinet minutes on Iraq. The authors ask: has FOI worked? This book is the first systematic evaluation of FOI anywhere in the world. It evaluates the performance of the Act against its objectives, and its impact on Whitehall. The book draws upon evidence from interviews with officials, plus FOI requesters and journalists as well as stories in the national press. Each chapter draws on case studies to make particular points and bring the study to life. It also compares developments in the UK to those in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.
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Table of Contents

PART I: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IN THEORY Introduction What are the Objectives of FOI? Whitehall and Freedom of Information Assessing the Impact of FOI in Britain PART II: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IN PRACTICE How FOI Works Has FOI Led to more Transparent Government? The Culture of Secrecy Has FOI Increased Government Accountability? Civil Service Neutrality Ministerial Accountability Effective Government and the Quality of Decision-making The Cabinet System of Government Has FOI Increased Public Understanding of Government Decision-making? Has FOI Led to Increased Trust in Government? Has FOI Led to Increased Participation in the Political Process? Has FOI Met its Objectives? Conclusion Appendices Appendix 1: How Does the UK FOI Perform against Legislation in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand? Appendix 2: The Requester Appendix 3: Ladder of Openness and Participation Appendix 4: Methods Bibliography

About the Author

ROBERT HAZELL is Founder and Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London, UK.BEN WORTHY is Research Associate in Freedom of Information and Data Protection at the Constitution Unit at University College London, UK.MARK GLOVER was Research Assistant in Freedom of Information at the Constitution Unit, University College, UK, between 2006 and 2009.

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