One would think that in times of the ubiquity of the internet and modern technologies, access to public information should not be a problem. Sadly, that is the case. It may be a result of a lack of time or simple laziness. However, blocking access to information which should be available to everyone on purpose is a scandal! – writes President of Employers of Poland Andrzej Malinowski in “Rzeczpospolita”.
He recalls a recent situation, when the Ministry of Defence published a comment on a press publication regarding the purchase of helicopters for the Polish army. The press release opens with a statements that the information included in the article in question is not true. However, the ministry does not say what the truth is, citing the classified information clause.
– While one can understand the ministry’s motivations for not revealing classified information (though why release such a clumsily worded statement?), the unwillingness of other institutions to reveal information which has little to do with security is completely unfathomable – remarks Malinowski.
He also cites the example of the government Shared Services Centre (CUW) which has often been the protagonist in press publications on blocking access to public information – most recently in relation to the annulment of a tender for government administration shipment won by a private operator.
According to CUW, the tender was annulated as its realization “is not in Public interest”. Thus far, the Centre has not explained the meaning of this formulation.
The explanations of the printing of the government primer were even more absurd. Last year, the Ministry of Education entrusted CUW with the printing of school textbooks without tender. CUW did not address the objections whether the publicly announced cost of printing them was true, expressed by Forum Obywatelskiego Rozwoju. The institution argued that it did not have to publish information as it is a legal entity separate from the Treasury which means that it is effectively an entrepreneur bound by trade secrets.
– The act on citizen access to public information was not introduced for institutions which are clearly subject to it (because they spend public money, our money) to refuse to comply and to force citizens who are due this information to sue them to get it! I know, but I won’t tell. Why? Because. Such behavior is understandable among kids, but not when it comes to serious institutions – concludes the President of Employers of Poland.