The number of requests made under the Government Information (Public Access) Act has increased significantly this calendar year. With only five in 2015, the counter is already at 24 in 2016.
A request under the Government Information Act is a request for information based on the provisions of the Act. Government agencies and administrative bodies – including the university – are required to make documents available when such a request is made. There are a few exceptions where this is not mandatory.
Fewer requests from journalists
The Head the Administrative and Legal Affairs department, Jerimi van Laar, does not have a clear explanation for the increase. “Honestly, I don’t. The requests are all different in nature. While the increase in the number of appeals cases can be explained by the introduction of the student loan system, I can’t find any reason for this particular increase. Perhaps there’s a general reason such as ‘society’s increasing preoccupation with legal issues’.”
What strikes Van Laar is the drop in the number of requests made under the Act by journalists. “These are primarily requests where commercial interests may play a behind-the-scenes role, such as questions about open access or rental rates for office space.”
'Just come by and talk'
EUR also received a request for information under the Act regarding binding study advice. “What first comes to mind is that if you had just come by to talk you would have gotten a much clearer picture of the situation than by submitting an information request”, remarks Van Laar.
Even though his department is quite busy due to the large number of requests, he still wants to emphasise that every request is taken seriously and handled conscientiously by faculties and support services. “People really go through every email in a mailbox, everybody wants to discuss and meet about all kinds of matters. That requires a lot of capacity and causes problems for our department. It means that we aren’t always able to attend to other work activities.”