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Delay after delay: Is Dutch Government's reluctance to disclose information increasing?

The Dutch Open Government Act (Wet open overheid (Woo)) has been in effect for several months now. Yet various government authorities were in the news recently due to violations of the right to information. Newspaper Trouw investigated whether political unwillingness is on the rise.

According to Annemarie Drahmann, Associate Professor in Constitutional and Administrative Law at Leiden Law School, this doesn’t necessarily indicate an attitude of unwillingness. She sees that poor information management within government authorities makes it difficult for them to handle Woo requests quickly. Sometimes thousands of e-mails are requested and officials are forced to look them up in a system manually. Drahmann fears it could be years before all government ICT systems are up to scratch.

Nonetheless, unwillingness does sometimes also appear to be a factor. It is detrimental if government authorities do not comply with the rulings of the administrative courts and instead choose to forfeit penalties. If a minister or alderman continues to violate the law deliberately and structurally, that should be reason enough to resign, according to Drahmann in Trouw.


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