In response to media enquiries about The Ombudsman's announcement that it will initiate a direct investigation into the administration of the Code on Access to Information, a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) said today (February 26) that the Government would co-operate fully with The Ombudsman in the investigation.
"As an open and accountable Government, our established policy is to make available as much information as possible so that the public can better understand how the Government formulates and implements policies, and can monitor Government performance more effectively," the spokesman said.
"Since assuming policy responsibility for the Code in July 2007, the CMAB has monitored the implementation of the Code by Government bureaux and departments, and taken action to promote awareness of and compliance with the Code, building on the foundation laid down since it was introduced in 1995.
"Experience so far demonstrates that the Code provides an effective framework to provide access for members of the public to a wide range of information held by the Government.
"To further enhance understanding of and compliance with the Code on the part of Government bureaux and departments, we will pursue additional measures on various fronts including staff training and enhanced publicity on the Code. In addition, we have set aside financial resources in the coming financial year to implement measures aimed at enhancing public awareness of the Code."
The following actions have been or are being arranged by the CMAB to step up the promotion of the Code to the public and within the Government:
* The Code is being reprinted for distribution to the public in March 2009.
* The management of various grades have been requested to include the Code in the training programme for their officers.
* An experience-sharing session for Access to Information Officers will be organised in March 2009. A summary of precedent Code cases for reference by bureaux and departments will be prepared afterwards.
* A train-the-trainer briefing for trainers and Access to Information Officers will be organised in April 2009 so that they can run their own training on the Code for their colleagues.
* A circular memorandum to highlight special areas of attention under the Code and a set of frequently asked questions relating to the Code will be prepared.
* A provision of $1 million in 2009-10 has been set aside for conducting publicity on the Code.
"The CMAB will carefully study the findings of the investigation and consider the recommendations when they are available," the spokesman said.
Ends/Thursday, February 26, 2009