Dutch freedom of information process ‘slowest in the world’


A report by the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ) claims the Dutch government is the slowest in the world in processing freedom of information requests. FOI consultant Rob Vleugels pointed out to Binnenlands Bestuur that Dutch ministries typically only employ four civil servants each for dealing with the requests. In comparison, the UK employs at least 80 people per ministry for this task. The British, unlike the Dutch, also train their people for doing FOI work.

Journalist Brenno de Winter thinks the problems with the execution of the FOI law centre around an incompetent government when it comes to IT.

Recently I had to wait 56 days for three photocopies. I had asked to receive the copies digitally, but they were incapable of doing so.

The citizens now foot the bill for bad automation. For years I have tried to uncover the extent of the problem, but the government is actively sabotaging me. They send me bills despite the courts telling them that such things is illegal, they take much more time to respond than they are allowed to, they claim national security issues, and they sometimes even just refuse to respond.

The Freedom of information act is called WOB in Dutch (Wet Openbaarheid Bestuur), and making a WOB request is called wobbing.

(Photo by Dennis Macwilliam, some rights reserved)

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