Promise and Practice of the Principle of Equal Access to Information in the Danish Local Administration

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Resumé

This article presents an empirical based study of the implementation and effectiveness of freedom of information acts (FOIA) in Danish municipalities. Even though the Nordic Countries are known for transparent public institutions, empirical based studies of access to information are rare.
With the help of 33 students of public administration, 146 simple requests were send covering 74.5 pct. of all Danish municipalities. The primary purpose of the field experiment was to test the legal principle of identity-neutrality and equal treatment, as the profile of the applicant was varied, so the first set of requesters represented “simple” identities, while the second set of requesters represented “qualified” identities. Besides, the requesters asked for two different pieces of information, one more controversial to reveal than the other. Hence, the study looked into variations in casework time, likelihood of rejection, communication form etc.
The results of the study showed that the municipalities generally seen handled the requests for access to information without difficulties and within the set deadlines, and no differential treatment of applicants based on their status and qualifications could be observed. In addition, the data indicates a significantly higher processing time in the requests for potential controversial information.
The study open up grounds for future field experiments on FOIA, and in the final part of the article the general benefits of student involvement in research processes are discussed.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftCentral European Public Administration Review
Vol/bind17
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)35-49
Antal sider14
ISSN2591-2240
StatusAccepteret/In press - 1 nov. 2019

Emneord

  • transparency

Citer dette

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abstract = "This article presents an empirical based study of the implementation and effectiveness of freedom of information acts (FOIA) in Danish municipalities. Even though the Nordic Countries are known for transparent public institutions, empirical based studies of access to information are rare.With the help of 33 students of public administration, 146 simple requests were send covering 74.5 pct. of all Danish municipalities. The primary purpose of the field experiment was to test the legal principle of identity-neutrality and equal treatment, as the profile of the applicant was varied, so the first set of requesters represented “simple” identities, while the second set of requesters represented “qualified” identities. Besides, the requesters asked for two different pieces of information, one more controversial to reveal than the other. Hence, the study looked into variations in casework time, likelihood of rejection, communication form etc. The results of the study showed that the municipalities generally seen handled the requests for access to information without difficulties and within the set deadlines, and no differential treatment of applicants based on their status and qualifications could be observed. In addition, the data indicates a significantly higher processing time in the requests for potential controversial information. The study open up grounds for future field experiments on FOIA, and in the final part of the article the general benefits of student involvement in research processes are discussed.",
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Promise and Practice of the Principle of Equal Access to Information in the Danish Local Administration. / Koch, Pernille Boye.

I: Central European Public Administration Review, Bind 17, Nr. 2, 01.11.2019, s. 35-49.

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

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AB - This article presents an empirical based study of the implementation and effectiveness of freedom of information acts (FOIA) in Danish municipalities. Even though the Nordic Countries are known for transparent public institutions, empirical based studies of access to information are rare.With the help of 33 students of public administration, 146 simple requests were send covering 74.5 pct. of all Danish municipalities. The primary purpose of the field experiment was to test the legal principle of identity-neutrality and equal treatment, as the profile of the applicant was varied, so the first set of requesters represented “simple” identities, while the second set of requesters represented “qualified” identities. Besides, the requesters asked for two different pieces of information, one more controversial to reveal than the other. Hence, the study looked into variations in casework time, likelihood of rejection, communication form etc. The results of the study showed that the municipalities generally seen handled the requests for access to information without difficulties and within the set deadlines, and no differential treatment of applicants based on their status and qualifications could be observed. In addition, the data indicates a significantly higher processing time in the requests for potential controversial information. The study open up grounds for future field experiments on FOIA, and in the final part of the article the general benefits of student involvement in research processes are discussed.

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