Anthropology, Economics, Ethics, Law, Politics, Public administration, Public policy

  This course is supported by Siemens as part of the Siemens Integrity Initiative. Integrity Action is the project partner of CEU, which is the Integrity Partner in the project.

In the online form please look for the following sub-course name: "LMI-Access to Information"

Course date

1 July - 6 July, 2013
19 April, 2013
The application process is closed; no more applications will be reviewed.
Course Director(s): 

James Lowry

International Records Management Trust, London, UK
Course Faculty: 

Anthea Seles

International Records Management Trust, London, UK

Claire Schouten

Integrity Action, London, UK

This policy lab addresses the significance of records as the evidence citizens need to take ownership of and participate more fully in their governments, and to build integrity in citizen state relationships. In particular, it will explore the significance of   well-managed records for meaningful approaches to transparency and accountability, including reactive disclosure (Access to Information) and proactive disclosure (Open Data), two of the key means of building increased accountability and transparency. The lab will examine the requirements for ensuring that accurate and reliable government records are created and remain accessible for as long as required, providing participants with knowledge of international good practice standards, infrastructure requirements and tools that can be used to strengthen records management in support of openness. 

Trustworthy and accessible government records are the basis for demonstrating and monitoring transparency and accountability; they are the legal foundation upon which openness is built. Openness rests ultimately on governments’ ability to create and maintain reliable and accurate government records as evidence of government policies, actions and transactions, and on citizens’ ability to access them. Public authorities need to know what information they hold, to be able to retrieve the information efficiently and to account to their citizens through this information.  Citizens need to know that they can trust the information their governments provide, that this information will help to protect their rights and entitlements, and that it can be used to help them scrutinise what their governments are doing. 

It is often assumed that trustworthy records are available to support initiatives for strengthening openness, but in many countries, government records are not managed to meet international standards, and in some countries even basic records management controls are not in place, particularly where the use of digital technologies has outpaced government capacity to manage digital records. Where records are not well managed, information can be manipulated, deleted, fragmented or lost, and records can become unreliable (not accurate, timely, complete, relevant, authentic). Digital records can easily be overwritten, modified, destroyed or corrupted through careless or even malicious use. Unmanaged, digital records and data do not survive long.

There are numerous consequences for citizens. Poorly managed records can result in the misuse of information, cover-up of fraud, misguided policy recommendations and misplaced funding. Government service delivery cannot be monitored, the delivery of justice can be impaired, and human rights and corruption cannot be proven.  The public cannot make an informed contribution to the governance process.  

Access to Information rights are of limited value if information cannot be found when requested or, when found, cannot be relied upon as authoritative; Open Data initiatives lack credibility when data cannot be substantiated by tracing it to a reliable source. If governments are to be transparent and accountable and citizens are to engage with their governments meaningfully, on-going access to reliable, accurate and authentic records is essential. 

Through case studies, presentations and group work, this policy lab will develop participants’ understanding of the essential contribution that trustworthy records should make to the goal of raising standards of integrity. The lab will bring together knowledge and good practice developed by the international communities concerned with records management, Access to Information and Open Data to explore ways of addressing the gaps between expectations for access initiatives and the realities of government information management.

Key Learning Objectives: 

Understand the value of records as evidence of government activity, the strategic importance of records management and the vital role of records management in the context of government transparency.

Develop the ability to identify gaps in the regulatory framework and capacity needed to manage government records in the hard copy and digital environments.
Learn how the management of records as evidence can contribute to national integrity frameworks, including Open Government, Access to Information, Open Data and anti-corruption initiatives.
Convenor:  James Lowry, Deputy Director, International Records Management Trust