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Global Times——Government windows gradually easing open
阅读:3595次    发布时间:2012-5-31
 

A seminar on the four years' implementation of Regulation on Open Government Information is held at Peking University Monday Photo: Courtesy of Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports

Editor's Note:

It has been four years since the Regulation on Open Government Information took into effect in May 2008. Has the government done enough to satisfy the public's demands for transparency? How can the public contribute to its further implementation? Three experts and officials shared their views at a seminar held by the Center for Public Participation Studies and Supports (CPPSS) at Peking University on Monday.

Hurdles still block right to know

Wang Xixin, director of the CPPSS

The CPPSS has been engaged in filing reports on government information disclosure report for four years.

During the four years, some government officials told me that our evaluation system is too superficial. I admit that's true. But if the government can't meet even these "superficial" standards, how can we expect it to do better?

At the moment, there are major problems with government information disclosure.

Although government at various levels disclose thousands of pieces of information every day, a lot of them are data the public doesn't really need, while the information the public needs are seldom published. After all, the achievements of the government in information transparency should be judged by the public.

Positively speaking, we can see our government's determination to establish open and transparent systems, such as its positive response to the idea of publishing the "three public expenses" of spending on official receptions, vehicles and overseas trips.

The interactive relationship between more than a few government departments and ordinary Chinese serves as a good example of how the government can exercise its administrative power in the future.

Nevertheless, there is still room to better strengthen the public's right to know. Nowadays, the public are expecting the government to disclose information in a more active manner.

Right now, many officials still don't see the need to actively release information. They have a tight grip on information, and information disclosure from them seems  act of charity. So when the public try to exercise their right to know and supervise, they encounter many obstacles.

Transparency helps boost equality

Chen Jianwen, director of Legislative Affairs Office in Changsha, Hunan Province

Since the Regulation was introduced four years ago, the local government in Changsha has made huge efforts.

Generally, the government is willing to put the regulations into practice. Although this adds to the workload of government staff, it has been proved that it is beneficial to the government in the long run.

For example, on our government website, we have published all the information relating to demolition. When a certain area is demolished, the people involved can check not only how much compensation they can get, but also how the rest of the money is distributed.

The aim is to ensure equality. And I believe this does help us to better negotiate with people. Once we published in a local newspaper the contact details of all our governmental officials, including our names, mobile phones, and office room numbers. I myself have received calls from citizens requiring information about our demolition policies.

I also received a call from someone who simply wanted to see if the published phone number was real and had nothing particular to request.

This expands the communication between officials and the public.

During the Regulation's implementation, we also encountered some troubles.

Before the Regulation was implemented in 2008, there was no systemized and strict standard for information disclosure. But people would ask for information related to things from 10 years ago. Sometimes we failed to negotiate with them, and it added a large amount of work to us.

We also face the problem of how to demarcate the qualifications of people who make a request.

One person used to make a large number of requests relating to our government work. The Regulation requires that the reasons people ask for information disclosure should be relevant to their work, lives, and scientific research, but lack a law or a mechanism to judge if people meet that requirement.

Finally, it is difficult for us to judge how far a law can go.

There was a petitioner who made an application to the local financial bureau. She wanted the local immediate people's court to disclose its budget and how the budget is used, as well as the salaries of judges and staff members.

Although we are pushing for information disclosure concerning officials' incomes, is disclosing the incomes a breach of their privacy?

Monopolies stem disclosure

Wang Jingbo, professor of China University of Political Science and Law

I have been working with the Center and mainly deal with information disclosure in the central ministries. I find that the more of a monopoly over a particular industry a ministry has, the less information it will disclose. The amount of information it has determines the scale of its power.

In terms of information disclosure, the government is in a passive position. It lacks the willingness and motivation to disclose information.

Meanwhile, external forces play an important role in information disclosure. For example, the Ministry of Commerce has to take into consideration the reality that China has entered the WTO and it faces pressure from some market bodies, which helps push the Ministry to disclose relevant information.

In recent years, there's a trend of social organizations actively taking part in information disclosure, such as cultural public institutions, universities and NGOs.

We should promote overall social participation in information disclosure, so that the government can see the benefits it brings and follows suit. With the information disclosure of both, the society can gradually achieve transparency, thus improving the government's ability to regulate and supervise.

I suggest that governmental departments should set up a specialized information disclosure office. Currently not many have established such an office, so the work of information disclosure hasn't been done in a professional way.

From:http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/709594/Government-windows-gradually-easing-open.aspx

 
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