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Reducing information inequality between citizens and government

The Netherlands aims to have open and responsive government. As part of the ‘Actieplan Open Overheid’, Ymre Schuurmans, Annemarie Drahmann and Louis Honée from the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law are researching how citizens' information position in administrative law proceedings can be improved.

The government's Open Overheid programme interviewed the researchers about their work.

Citizens' information position

Information inequality between citizens and government authorities is a problem area. The three researchers are therefore studying citizens' information position in disputes with the government. Drahmann continues, ‘how can these problems be addressed, where do they occur and why?’ The task of the judge in administrative law proceedings will also be examined, as well as the purpose of information provision.

Openness and transparency

Drahmann explains that the Open Government Act (Woo) aims to facilitate a shift in culture towards greater openness and transparency in government, making information more accessible and involving citizens more in decision-making processes. This study looks beyond the Woo and asks whether a shift is also needed in the culture within government authorities and the judiciary?

Honée adds, ‘It's especially in disputes with the government that public trust is tested and the values of openness and transparency come under the greatest pressure.’

Three stages of the research project:

  • literature and case law study to identify existing problem areas;
  • interviews with lawyers and judges to hear about the practical challenges they face;
  • recommendations to be presented to lawyers and judges at expert meetings.

The three researchers hope the report will contribute to the legislative proposal to strengthen the guarantee function of the General Administrative Law Act (Awb). The aim of this proposal is to better protect citizens in future administrative proceedings. The research report is expected to be completed and presented to the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and the Ministry of Justice and Security in the summer.

The Netherlands has been a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011. This organisation aims to promote open government in all its member countries.

More information

Read the full article (in Dutch) on Open Overheid.Nl

Photo above: Alireza Parpaei through Unsplash

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