The Prime Minister, David Cameron, spoke on 6 March to the House of Commons Liaison Committee (chaired, interestingly enough, by Sir Alan Beith, who also chairs the Justice Committee undertaking post-legislative scrutiny of the Freedom of Information Act 2000). Although he said the government were “not making any plans to change” the FOI Act, he appeared to compare it unfavourably to the government’s own “transparency agenda”, saying
It seems to me that real freedom of information is the money that goes in and the results that come out. Making Government transparent is the best thing.
We spend, or the system seems to spend, an age dealing with freedom of information requests which are all about processes and actually what the public or the country want to know is how much money are you spending, is that money being spent well and what are the results.
Perhaps the key point had already been made last month though, when another co-founder of saveFOI, Tim Turner wrote on his blog that
Transparency…is geared towards an open-source, re-use model which is intrinsically positive, but totally separate from the accountability / scrutiny aim of FOI
saveFOI’s view is that FOI and the Transparency agenda are two cogs in the same machine, not options to be chosen between.