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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 65090 Find in a Library
Title: PUBLIC ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Corporate Author: Transaction Publishers
Rutgers-the State University
Distribution
United States of America
Editor(s): A C GORDON; J P HEINZ
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 308
Sponsoring Agency: Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60201
Northwestern University Program in Law and the Social Sciences
Evanston, IL 60201
Transaction Publishers
Piscataway, NJ 08854
Sale Source: Transaction Publishers
Rutgers-the State University
Distribution
140 West Ethel Road
Units L-M
Piscataway, NJ 08854
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS VOLUME ADDRESSES THE ISSUE OF PUBLIC ACCESSIBILITY OF INFORMATION FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, FOCUSING ON A FIELD EXPERIMENT THAT TESTED THE RESPONSIVENESS OF ILLINOIS AGENCIES.
Abstract: THE STUDY EXPERIMENT ATTEMPTED TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT TO WHICH INFORMATION WAS READILY AVAILABLE FROM A VARIETY OF STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES. IT INVESTIGATED WHAT TYPES OF INFORMATION WERE AVAILABLE, TO WHICH PERSONS OR INTEREST GROUPS THEY ARE AVAILABLE, AND UNDER WHAT SETS OF CIRCUMSTANCES. STUDY METHODS INVOLVED WRITTEN REQUESTS TO 26 ILLINOIS AGENCIES FROM NEUTRAL, RIGHTWING AND LEFTWING GROUPS FOR INFORMATION RANGING FROM FAVORABLE TO UNFAVORABLE. IN A SECOND PHASE OF THE RESEARCH, SIMILAR REQUESTS WERE MADE IN PERSON. IN ALL CASES, THE INFORMATION REQUESTED WAS DEEMED OF THE KIND TO WHICH THE PUBLIC HAS A LEGAL RIGHT OF ACCESS, THROUGH UNFAVORABLE INFORMATION WOULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC IMAGE. FREQUENCY OF RESPONSES WAS FOUND TO BE HIGH, BUT INFORMATION QUALITY AND COMPLETENESS WAS FOUND TO VARY ACCORDING TO THE AGENCY'S PERCEPTION OF THE INQUIRANT'S HOSTILITY OR EXTREMISM IN EITHER POLITICAL DIRECTION. THE EVIDENCE FROM THE RESEARCH IS SUMMARIZED IN A MODEL OF THE VARIOUS FACTORS CONSIDERED BY A BUREAUCRACY IN DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO RELEASE INFORMATION. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT BUREAUCRACTIC STRATEGIES USED TO CONTROL DAMAGING INFORMATION FALL INTO FOUR CATEGORIES: TWO TYPES OF NONDISCLOSURE AND TWO WAYS OF MITIGATING THE ONEROUS CONSEQUENCES OF RELEASE. THE FORMER INCLUDE NONCOLLECTION OF INFORMATION AND LEGITIMIZING SECRECY, WHILE THE LATTER INCLUDE DELAYING AND TIMING STRATEGIES AND NEUTRALIZING THE EFFECTS OF DAMAGING INFORMATION. IN ADDITION, THE RESEARCH ALSO DEMONSTRATED THAT ALTHOUGH FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWS MAY AID THE PUBLIC IN ITS QUEST FOR ACCESS, LEGAL REMEDIES ARE LIMITED IN CASES WHERE ACCESS IS DENIED. A RELATED ARTICLE TRACES SOME OF THE ABUSES OF INFORMATION ACCESS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL AND OUTLINES ILLINOIS LAW AFFECTING ACCESS TO INFORMATION. IN ADDITION, SIX INDIVIDUAL REPORTS DEAL WITH SPECIFIC AGENCIES INVESTIGATED IN THE STUDY. A FURTHER COMMENT CONSIDERS THE IMPACT OF COMPUTERIZATION OF AGENCY FILES, DOCUMENTING THE EXTENT TO WHICH COMPUTERS ARE CURRENTLY USED FOR AGENCY INFORMATION STORAGE, AND EXAMINING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS PRACTICE UPON BOTH PRIVACY SAFEGUARDS AND FREEDOM OF ACCESS. TABULAR DATA AND FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED WITH INDIVIDUAL ARTICLES. (MRK)
Index Term(s): Confidential records access; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Illinois; Information dissemination; Information Systems and Technology; Laws and Statutes; Legal privacy protection; Public information
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65090

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