Author(s): National Library, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Anticorruption Commission
Resource Type: Case studies
Implementing Access to Information law in Jordan
Institutionalization and harmonization of procedures
Source in Arabic: ESCWA-OECD Case Study - Access to Information in Jordan (Ar)
This activity represents the fifth commitment of Jordan’s Fourth Plan for the Open Government Partnership Initiative (2018-2020) and seeks to strengthen the implementation of the access to information law and procedures (issued in 2007), through a participatory effort between governmental and non-governmental entities. It included the development of a unified system for classifying and managing government information, and it takes into account the differences between government institutions. It also aims to ensure compliance with the classification of information by the agency responsible for it.
As a first of its kind in Jordan, the activity aims at harmonizing the process of managing, indexing and categorizing documents and files in government institutions, in order to facilitate preservation of and access to information. This system is based on the public right to access information, as one of the criteria for transparent government, and is related to public accountability standard that results from realizing access to information. The roles encompassed the collection of public data from ministries and public entities in Jordan, as well as the collection, organization and publishing of personal data.
The National Library, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and Anticorruption Commission have jointly worked on implementing the law on access to information, in collaboration with non-governmental stakeholders and experts in human rights, towards serving the public.
This activity is mainly aimed at resolving the difficulties faced in implementing the 2007 Access to Information (ATI) law. The difficulties are due to the need of government institutions for a clear and unified system for data classification and management that facilitate implementation and response to requests for information, from journalists and interested parties. The activity would enable having an effective methodology that provides access to the required information in good quality and a timely manner, and with less difficulty and bureaucracy.
A higher committee was formed in 2019 and was composed of experts and representatives of government institutions and relevant entities, to work on implementing the national commitments under the Open Government Partnerships and cooperate with other interested stakeholders. The committee included the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the National Library, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists, the Jordan Transparency Centre, the National Centre for Human Rights, and public and private universities.
The committee worked on preparing protocols for implementing the right to access information law, in accordance with best practices and including clear procedures and criteria that help facilitate access to information as quickly as possible. After the submission of protocols to the Cabinet and the approval in 2020, the committee circulated the protocols to all relevant ministries and governmental institutions, as well as through various digital platforms and social media.
This activity benefits all segments of society, including citizens and residents, government employees and those involved in managing public documents and files, in addition to decision-makers and workers in the media and press.
The results include preparing a protocol to institutionalize the procedures for implementing the right to access information law (classification and implementation) in accordance with best practices, and a guide for managing documents and files, classifying information, determining the time it is kept, and developing an electronic record that includes a description of basic data. The guide consists of eight (8) articles with a detailed explanation of the procedures and standards to be followed. The authorities concerned with implementing the law rely on this guide to classify their information and to follow the standards and procedures needed for an effective management.
The protocol can be applied in government institutions for receiving and responding to requests for information, as well as for classifying, managing and archiving information, according to standards and procedures that allow fast access to information. It also provides quick procedures for journalists.
The challenges include the delay in composing the committees and in adopting the protocols, and the differences between institutions in the processes for sharing information. This required setting an implementation plan with a clear timeline that takes into account the time and duration of government procedures and approvals, and studying the various potential obstacles and their possible solutions.