Thursday, April 23, 2015

FOIL and Open Government

I had a belief that the Open Government was a new initiative promoted by President Obama since 2009. But last week I had a chance to meet a man who has had more than 40 years of experience working with the Open Government in the United States. During our conversation, I tried to figure out the difference between the old and the new Open Government, and learn the history of the Open Government (OG)in the United States.

Open Government concept appears as a result of adoption the FOIL – Freedom of Information Law in 1974.  These laws provides citizens access to information and records which is collected, used and archived by governmental structures.  First version of this Law was very weak but it was developed over the times to respond the needs of the citizens and ensure the security of personal and public information. By this time, Information Laws are adopted in a many different countries which are provides different level of access to information, but anyway it becomes one of the main human rights globally.  

Robert Freeman is the director of the Committee for OG of New York state since 1974. This committee was established as a result of the adoption of the Freedom of in Information Law (FOIL), and the New York state is one of the few states which have a special committee for OG. Mr. Freeman explained that this committee was not established to help the state, but to do the right things and serves the citizens in gaining access to information. Citizens receive the right of accessing to information at a written request to any of the government agencies. There are limits in obtaining information when it comes to issues of national security or personal data of citizens from birth to death. The Committee is responsible for issues and advises citizens on the implementation of this law. More information about the activities of the Committee for the OG in New York State can be found at

The idea of ​​Open Government found a new lease of life thanks to the initiative of the President Obama and the Open Government Directive in 2009. This initiative is the unprecedented step towards democratization, when proactively disclosure the electronically available public information using new technologies. Also, Open Government Initiatives encourages governmental organizations to find a new and innovative ways of communication and their participation in decision - making process in different levels. This initiative was supported at the global level, and to date there are more than 65 countries are included in the Open Government Partnership (

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