Requests for information of public interest regress in Romania

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The number of requests for information of public interest filed with local public administrations decreased in 2008 from 2007, reveal findings in a recent report conducted under the Phare project ‘Information of Public Interest – A Fundamental Right, not a Favour!’
The report indicates that most of the requesters of information of public interest were citizens.

As of the type of information that interested the citizens at the level of all the institutions monitored by the report, most of the requests for information of public interest were for provision of normative acts, followed by requests about the use of public money.

Most of the respondents in the report believe they are more informed about the activity of local institutions/authorities that are closer to the citizens including the town halls, the local councils and even, particularly, the Presidency.

The knowledge degree gets less for central institutions – Parliament and Governemnt.
The report indicates that the citizens say they are most interested in the activity of town halls, local and county councils. Last among the interest of the citizens is the activity of Romania’s Parliament, with 43 percent of Romanians saying their interest in the activity of Parliament is non¬existing or small.

The report also shows that Romanians trust more the information presented on TV (64 percent have quite high confidence or very high confidence in it) and the radio (54 percent) than in information issued by official sources (in which 38 percent have quite high confidence and 15 percent very high confidence).

The print media and the Internet command the trust of less than 50 percent of the Romanians.

As many as 85 percent of those saying they have filed requests for information with public institutions/authorities say they have received an answer, most of them said ‘right away,’ while 7 percent say they have got no answer, although the 30-day deadline has long passed.

The report suggests the establishment of a single system for the management of information of public interest; harmonising fees for document copying by introducing a maximum value;

expanding the list of public information categories to include financial information – such as annual public procurement plans, public procurement contracts, loans taken out – as well as continuing special training programmes for the civil society in promoting the right of free access to public information.

‘What we intend to do in the time ahead is to campaign, through all available media, for the standardisation of the display of information of public interest.

We want some information we believe are imperiously necessary to be notified to the citizens – such as institutional management, activity, staff and financial management – to be posted on the websites of the public institutions, be them ministries, town halls, county councils or prefectures,’ says Programme Manager with the Institute for Public Policies (IPP) Elena Iorga.

The report was conducted under a Phare project implemented by IPP, in partnership with the Centre for Independent Journalism (CJI).

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