Sunday, 25 November 2018

Most of central government department websites lack transparency: CIC audit

Most of central government department websites lack transparency: CIC audit

Most of the central government department websites lack in suo-motu disclosure of public information under a mandatory provision of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, according to an official report released Tuesday.

It said the ultimate objective of transparency by them can be performed only by the government who control all supply side of information.

Transparency watchdog Central Information Commission (CIC) has undertaken an evaluation to ascertain the quality of suo-motu disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act made by various public authorities.

The evaluation was conducted by a committee comprising A N Tiwari, former Chief Information Commissioner, and M M Ansari, former Information Commissioner.

The committee evolved an evaluation format and requested all public authorities to fill it up.
Out of 2,092 public authorities registered with the commission, feedback was received from 838.
"It has been found that out of 838 public authorities, 158 public authorities got grade A, 157 public authorities got grade B, 118 public authorities got grade C, 133 public authorities got grade D and 272 public authorities got grade E," the report said.

The departments getting 90-100 per cent score in the evaluation got grade A, those getting 80-89 per cent were put in grade B, 70-79 per cent in grade C, 60-69 in grade D and below 60 per cent in grade E.

"We have been at pains to point out in our report that while the audit of the websites of the public authorities is a necessary step in the direction of ushering in greater transparency in the functioning of the state instrumentalities, the ultimate objective still remains the embrace of transparency by them as central to governance," the report said.

This task can be performed only by the government who control all supply side of information, it said.

"It is our hope that the initiative taken by the Central Information Commission to evaluate disclosure standards on websites of public authorities shall usher in the change which the RTI Act enjoins. We repeat that institutional transparency is the final frontier of the Right to Information movement," the report said.

Mentioning its major findings, the CIC report said missing information largely relates to "policy on transfer and posting of senior officers deployed at important and sensitive places; details of domestic and foreign visits undertaken by the senior officials and sources and methods of funding political parties or identification of donors", among others.

The report has been accepted by the Central Information Commission, subject to any observations that may now be received by the commission from the public authorities.


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