ICT Module -2 Topic -2
Data, Information, and Adding ICTs to the Social Accountability Equation
Access to Information and ICTs - Reactive and Proactive Disclosure
Governments collect and produce large amounts of data and information as part of their daily functions. There is social value in this information, and citizens should have access to that information to assess, monitor and participate in the decision-making process. With the help of ICT tools, public information and data are the raw elements that can be used, reused, analyzed, and disseminate in order to hold governments accountable for their actions.
Why is it important to know about the right to access to information before learning about ICT tools for social accountability?
Access to Information (ATI) can be defined as the fundamental right that people have to obtain information in the possession of public bodies. ATI has emerged as a key tool for practitioners and citizens to undertake other social accountability practices. By using the existing ATI regulations in your country, your organization can access information that could be used to improve public sector transparency and enhance accountability. Some of the examples are included in the boxes to your right.
There are two main ways for government to disclose information to the public: Reactive and proactive disclosure.
- What is Reactive Disclosure? Reactive disclosure takes place when you file a request through an ATI law or regulation to the public body holding the information that you are seeking to obtain. This is reactive disclosure of information, as the access is granted only after someone asks for it.
Reactive Disclosure and ICTs: ICTs have facilitated the process of transparency through reactive disclosure, for example some governments have adopted information request platforms where citizens can make requests online. Likewise, CSOs have developed such platforms.
- What is Proactive Disclosure? The other option, when public organizations disclose the information on their own initiative and without any individual request for information, is called proactive disclosure of information. While keeping mechanism of reactive transparency in place to answer specific requests for information, specialists also emphasize that the proactive disclosure of public information in reusable formats is key to achieving greater use of public information and supporting the sustainability of disclosure practices within government bodies.
Proactive Disclosure and ICTs: ICTs contribute to enhancing proactive disclosure both from the government perspective and citizen and civil society perspective. With the right technology, governments can now proactively disclose more and better quality data and information than what was possible before the advent of the Internet. Such enhancement in the technology brought us to the era of open data, which will be discussed later in the module. Thus, ICTs also play a major role in allowing CSOs and citizens to re-use information that is disclosed by government either proactively or reactively.
Though proactive disclosure is becoming popular due to the enhancement of technology, reactive disclosure will continue to be an important way for citizens to access specific data and information from government. Depending on the type of information that a citizen needs, the benefits to each form of disclosure varies based on the particular regulations in each country.