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Czech Republic

Streamline the Free Access to Information System (CZ0012)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Czech Republic, Second Action Plan, 2014-2016

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Interior

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Legislation & Regulation, Open Data, Records Management, Right to Information

IRM Review

IRM Report: Czech Republic End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Czech Republic IRM Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

The amendment to the Act No 106/1999 Coll., on Free Access to Information, as amended, is to be made thanks to the obligation to perform a transposition of the European Parliament and Council Directive No 2013/37/EU of 26 June 2013, amending the Directive 2003/98/ES on repeated use of public sector information. This Directive stipulates a minimum package of the rules for repeated use of documents kept by the public sector subjects, and at the same sets down the rules for facilitating access to such documents. Current requests made in this area prove that as the key and strategic direction of transparency development in public administration the principle RE-USE, i.e. a repeated use of information and “open data“ has been perceived. In this conception the amended law should involve a specification of repeated use of information (RE-USE principle), the provider´s obligation to accommodate the recipients of information technologically and organizationally (as usually applied abroad), or confirm the same importance of a form request and an information request, providing certain defined databases in a form of open data and setting powers of a supervisory body to formulate the data structures, data catalogue and arrangement of information disclosure through the open data and the related process.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 6. Streamline the free access to information system

Commitment text:

The amendment to the Act No 106/1999 Coll., on Free Access to Information, as amended, is to be made thanks to the obligation to perform a transposition of the European Parliament and Council Directive No 2013/37/EU of 26 June 2013, amending the Directive 2003/98/ES on repeated use of public sector information. This Directive stipulates a minimum package of the rules for repeated use of documents kept by the public sector subjects, and at the same sets down the rules for facilitating access to such documents.

Current requests made in this area prove that as the key and strategic direction of transparency development in public administration the principle RE-USE, i.e. a repeated use of information and “open data“ has been perceived. In this conception the amended law should involve a specification of repeated use of information (RE-USE principle), the provider´s obligation to accommodate the recipients of information technologically and organizationally (as usually applied abroad), or confirm the same importance of a form request and an information request, providing certain defined databases in a form of open data and setting powers of a supervisory body to formulate the data structures, data catalogue and arrangement of information disclosure through the open data and the related process.

Setting and application of such principles should result in further integration of the related data or removing multiplication. The principle of publication and availability should be leading, the aspect of affiliation or connection with factual subject agenda (public procurement, property treatment) should be secondary. The aim is to enable working with such data compoundly and in continuity, without necessity to combine incompatible data from various departmental systems.

Transposition performance of the Directive should support an increased efficiency of the public administration as to its openess towards citizens and strenghtening transparency and ensure a quicker and more efficient access of the public to information.

Milestones:

6.1 Submission of the Draft Act to the Government

6.2 Creating of methodical material on modifications of the Act on Free Access to Information made by the amendment

6.3 Coming into force of the amendment

Responsible Institution: The Ministry of Interior

Supporting Institution(s): None

Start Date: Not Specified.......                                                                          End Date: 1 July 2015

 
Commitment Aim

This commitment aims to amend the Free Access to Information Act of 1999, thereby improving open data and re-use regulations. The action plan concentrated on the obligations arising from the EU Directive 2013/37/EU, amending Directive 2003/98/ES on the repeated use of public sector information to enable greater access to information through open data.

Status

Mid-term: Substantial

The Czech government fully accomplished Milestone 6.1 (a draft amendment to the Free Access to Information Act) and Milestone 6.3 (the amendment providing legal force). In October 2014, before approval of the second action plan, the government published a new version of the draft amendment to the Free Access to Information Act. Compared to the prior July 2014 draft, it was limited mostly to transposing the EU Directive 2013/37/EU. The October version concentrated on ensuring public institutions provide information in open formats and if possible, in machine-readable form, both with respect to proactive information disclosures and responses to information requests. This, in general, corresponded to the commitment goals as defined in the second action plan (see above).

Parliament approved this October version of the amendment. The President signed the amendment and the legislation entered into legal force on 10 September 2015, completing Milestone 6.3.

The Ministry of Interior prepared the methodological material on the amendment changes (Milestone 6.2). However, since the Ministry did not publish the material within the period covered by the Midterm Report (1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015), IRM researchers coded Milestone 6.2 with limited completion.  

End of term: Complete

The Ministry of the Interior prepared methodological material on the amendment (Milestone 6.2) and made it publicly available for general use in section three of the government website on 18 November 2015.[Note 25: Ministry of Interior: Methodical Recommendation No. 3 on the Procedure of Legally Bound Persons Under the Act no. 106/1999 Coll., On Free Access to Information - a) Transposing Amendment b) Practical Guide to Dealing with Requests for Information, [Czech]  http://www.mvcr.cz/odk2/clanek/odbor-verejne-spravy-dozoru-a-kontroly.aspx?q=Y2hudW09Mw%3d%3d.%5D Therefore, IRM researchers consider the commitment completed.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

The scope of the adopted amendments was limited, and applied to a narrow set of issues, thus reducing their ability to stretch government practice. There are several serious problems related to freely accessing information held by public authorities in the Czech Republic, namely insufficient enforcement of the Free Access to Information Act (namely by not respecting the laws in force and the court decisions by some of the authorities). This challenge was not fully addressed by the adopted amendment. As written and implemented, there are several main issues with enforcing the Act. For example, if a government official refuses to provide information requested, there is no clearly delineated and enforceable appeals process. The information request may move up the chain of command, and the highest authority may declare that the information must be provided under the law, but there is currently no enforcement mechanism to compel the information to be released, unless the issue is taken to court.

Another key issue is a limited degree of proactive publication by public institutions. Under the current law, there is no clear standard for applying a “public interest test” to determine information that should be made publicly accessible.  There are also no sanctions for officials refusing to provide information as required by the law.

As it was implemented, the original ambition of the commitment was diminished, which had intended to address a broad range of these problems and amend the Free Access to Information Act accordingly. However, by proposing an amendment limited to the transposition of the EU Directive on the repeated use of public sector information, the changes do not address the full range of issues involved in improving access to information. Although this commitment was complete, further activities to address the Act’s limitations should be taken in future commitment relevant to access to information.

As a consequence of adopting the amendment, government held information will have to be published in open data format and machine-readable form whenever possible, along with the related metadata, as the EU Directive requires. This will increase the quality and possible further use of the information provided both actively by the authorities and upon request. However, the IRM researchers consider the impact of the commitment on opening the government as marginal because, as the analysis of CSO Otevrená spolecnost also confirms,[1] the amendment did not address problematic areas such as recourse for illegal denials of information access, and missing sanctions for officials refusing to provide information in accordance with the Act. It can be also pointed out that the adopted amendment addresses the commitment indirectly with regards to setting a supervisory body for open data processes. The amendment does establish the general compentence of the supervisory bodies to review the duties of the public authorities. They are also closely connected to commitments 8 (open data catallogue) and 9 (open data legal framework).

Carried forward?

The government fully accomplished the commitment as formulated in the second action plan and therefore did not carry the commitment to the next action plan.


Czech Republic's Commitments

  1. Quality Management in Service Authorities

    CZ0022, 2018, Legislation & Regulation

  2. Judiciary Annual Report

    CZ0023, 2018, E-Government

  3. Publishing Lower Court Decision

    CZ0024, 2018, E-Government

  4. Raising Awareness About Whistle-Blowers

    CZ0025, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. Open Education Data

    CZ0026, 2018, E-Government

  6. InspIS Information System

    CZ0027, 2018, E-Government

  7. Open Data from School Inspector

    CZ0028, 2018, E-Government

  8. Publication of Education Information on Creative Commons

    CZ0029, 2018, E-Government

  9. Implementing the Civil Service Act

    CZ0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  10. Priority Data Sets of Public Administration

    CZ0017, 2016, E-Government

  11. Public Administration of the Czech Republic’s Open Data Ecosystem

    CZ0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. National Open Access to Scientific Information Strategy

    CZ0019, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  13. Supporting Volunteering

    CZ0020, 2016, Civic Space

  14. Improving Local Level Safety

    CZ0021, 2016, E-Government

  15. Adoption of the New Act on Civil Service

    CZ0007, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  16. Implementing Legislation for the New Act on Civil Service

    CZ0008, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  17. Institutional Measures to Implement the New Act on Civil Service

    CZ0009, 2014, Capacity Building

  18. Selection, Recruitment, and Appointment of Civil Servants/High-Ranking Civil Servants

    CZ0010, 2014, Capacity Building

  19. Systematization of Service Positions and Service Authorities

    CZ0011, 2014, Labor

  20. Streamline the Free Access to Information System

    CZ0012, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  21. Support for Open Data Publishing

    CZ0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  22. Open Data Catalogue

    CZ0014, 2014, E-Government

  23. Open Data Legal Framework

    CZ0015, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  24. Adoption of an Act on Civil Servants

    CZ0001, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  25. Amendments of the Free Access to Information Act

    CZ0002, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  26. Identification and Removal of Legal and Technical Obstacles

    CZ0003, 2012, Open Data

  27. Creation of an Open Data Infrastructure in the Public Procurement Sector

    CZ0004, 2012, Open Contracting and Procurement

  28. Converting the Most Important Data Sources to Open Data Standards

    CZ0005, 2012, Open Data

  29. Creation of a Catalogue of Public Administration Data

    CZ0006, 2012, Open Data