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Breaking the Open Door Down

Why have we organized the „Breaking the Open Door Down” competition?

As members of the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups we have recognized making Polish public institutions open, clear, balanced and law-abiding as our mission. To make it happen legislative regulations cannot be the only solution we rely on. It is the will of the people within the institution as well as citizens’ interest and pressure that are of equal importance.

We have organized this competition as we wanted to promote actions that realize the ideal of clarity, openness, lawfulness and responsibility for the entrusted mission. At the same time, we wanted to condemn everything that damages these values. We hoped to know from the participant of the competition how their contact with the institutions looks like and how they get informed by them. In our competition EVERY PERSON can present their experience and take part in voting.

What our competition is characterized by?

Firstly, we are interested only in the actions that are associated with the instructions given by the public institutions on how they work.

Secondly, the definition of informative actions is wide – from abiding by the procedures included in the Act of Access to Public Information, through the good organization of websites, to the virtual space of the offices and providing the information outside the institutions.

Thirdly, we look for positive as well as for negative examples. We want to show that we – as citizens – are able to enforce our rights!

Why „Breaking the Open Door Down”?

Because we talk about openness and transparency of the public institutions. Because law says that the door is open, but practice shows that this is not always the case. The open door sometimes needs to be broken down by going to court, press’ force or reporting the wrong experience in the competition like this one. It also happens that not only is the door widely open but the inner offices’ life starts to appear outside – among the people. That what we like and what we want to support!

What have we done so far?

In 2010 we conducted the first edition of the competition which revealed several dozen of positive and negative practices offered by the institutions. On the website we submitted to voting 20 positive practices and 16 negative ones. The same examples were assessed by the Chapter of the competition that consists of the representatives of academic community, but also of the world of business, non-governmental organizations and self-governmental or public administration. They examined these cases with regard to commonness, social impingement and abiding by law. As a result, the Chapter created two subcategories for the positive practices – „The proper realization of the Act of Access to Public Information” and „Active informing”. At the same time, the chapter hoped that in the future there would be no need to award anybody a prize for obeying the law!

The results of the competition were announced on 28th September 2010 on the International Day of the Right to Public Information that was the summary of the fourth Week of Public Information organized by our Association.

What now?

We are going to organize the competition in the forthcoming years. The rules concerning the second edition (2011) will be known in June and they will be discussed every year. Our purpose is to change the reality, but also to teach how to do that. It will for sure influence the changes of the rules and the course of the competition. We plan the results to be announced every year on the International Day of the Right to Public Information.

The offices and institutions that obtained our award will be particularly supervised. Prizes are the encouragement to further improvement. They should not deprive them of the initiative. On the other hand, the negative prize should not be treated as a stamp that cannot be removed. We encourage to introduce changes and we assure that we are ready to confirm their presence.

Even now we invite you to share your observations concerning the competition. After publishing its rules in 2011 we encourage you to participate in our action by presenting your candidates for the prize and the anti-prize as well as by voting for the particular practices.

All correspondence should be sent on our e-mail: konkurs@informacjapubliczna.org.pl.

Translated voluntary by Katarzyna Bierzanowska

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