Secrecy and abuse of trust

Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, said of the Freedom of Information Act, "The more there is a culture of openness, the better decision-making will be." He promised a "change in way we are governed" because "real, informed accountability improves standards".

Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, said of the Freedom of Information Act, "The more there is a culture of openness, the better decision-making will be." He promised a "change in way we are governed" because "real, informed accountability improves standards".

But in IT there has been no transformation. Indeed, the Office of Government Commerce, which oversees government IT, seems more stirred by James Bond-style intrigue than Falconer's entreaties on the need for open government.

In a briefing on the Freedom of Information Act, the OGC told its teams of Gateway reviewers - who assess the progress of IT projects at key stages in their lifecycle - that they "must securely dispose of the [Gateway] report and all supporting documents immediately after the delivery of the final report".

The OGC seems to think that Gateway reviews reveal the keycodes to Britain's nuclear secrets.

In refusing to publish them, the OGC is defying two parliamentary committees, the information commissioner and the Information Tribunal. And now the OGC and its ministers are spending public money on a third appeal, in the High Court, to try to keep the reviews secret.

IT specialists, MPs, suppliers and users have a right to know whether Gateway reviewers deem risky projects feasible and well managed. They are being denied that automatic right by the OGC.

The public puts its trust in government to spend money wisely. It is an abuse of that trust to spend more money on legal fees to defend the indefensible.

Falconer said that good government is open government. By the same logic, bad government is secretive government. It is clear which style of government is favoured by the OGC and its ministers.

Government told to publish Gateway reviews on ID cards >>

Legal fight over ID cards secrecy begins >>

Tony Collins' blog: shredding of Gateway reviews >>

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