ODAC Mini Sites

Posted in Resources

ODAC has been working hard over the past few years to develop new and interesting content to keep our community informed and up to date on access to information issues. Through this work, we have created a series of mini sites that each have a very particular and interesting focus within the transparency field.

askAFRICA

askAFRICA is a digital management toolkit for journalists/activists that facilitates freedom-of-information (FOI) requests, combined with a semantic document repository. In South Africa, this will facilitate requests made through the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000.

Make a PAIA request to national bodies here: http://askafrica.info/ [NOTE: still in testing phase]

Open Government Africa

ODAC is monitoring progress on the Open Government Partnership through a web platform. South Africa has been a founding member of the Open Government Partnership since September 2011 and ODAC has been leading the monitoring of these commitments through this additional online space.

To keep up to date on the Open Govenrment Partnership in South Africa visit https://opengovernmentafrica.wordpress.com/  

Open Journalism Workshop

ODAC is very proud to announce the launch of its latest free public resource: the Open Journalism Workshop. This has been completed with the generous funding of the Open Society Foundation.It is a workshop, targeted at community journalists, which provides basic introductions to using the Promotion of Access to Information Act, advising potential whistleblowers, and learning about open data journalism.

Take part in the online workshop at https://openjournalismworkshop.org [website is currently being revamped so no link is available]

iNeighbourhood

iNeighbourhood can best be described as a proof of concept. With funding from the Foundation for Human Rights, ODAC explored the value of integrated development planning information and the public. In order to test how best to translate such information into something of value to the public, we developed an interactive map based on data from the City of Cape Town that outlined current big projects planned for development in the different City wards.

You can interact with this information at http://idp.code4sa.org/

Workshops

Posted in Resources

The Open Journalism Workshop

The Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC), with generous funding from the Open Society Foundation of South Africa, has created a website-based open journalism workshop as an online resource for South African investigative journalists.

The media environment in South Africa is not always conducive to investigative journalism. South Africa may have a free media, but the political environment presents many challenges in terms of accessing information - particularly information from the state. Within media houses, limited capacity and restrictive deadlines make it difficult to write stories that might require extensive, in-depth investigations.

In response, ODAC has launched the site as a resource for investigative journalists. It is an online workshop with three core modules:

  • Open Data Journalism
  • The Promotion of Access to Information Act
  • The Protected Disclosures Act

Each module provides you with a different tool to assist your investigative journalism. The structure is simple. Each module has a video lecture, an accompanying PowerPoint presentation, and several supplementary reading materials and videos. Each module ends with a short voluntary quiz which tests you on the core material.

To visit the workshop, click here.

Publications

Posted in Resources

How to Implement PAIA in your organisation

For years ODAC have been promoting the use of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA). This work has involved not only encouraging members of the public to use the Act, but also using it ourselves in the strategic pursuit of transparency. We have accomplished some great successes with PAIA - yet it is only know that we are sharing our best practices on implementing PAIA within your own organisation, to encourage other actors to engage more readily with the Act as well.

Our motivation for doing so is quite straightforward: we believe that, the more departments are forced to engage with PAIA through requests, the more likely it is they will implement systems to deal with PAIA that will eventually lead to more effective and responsive behaviour. The Guide is short and pragmatic - but we hope are brief attempts to outline some best practice will encourage other organisations to engage in an act we believe to be of immense public good.

Download here.


Accessing Information? What we know from user experiences

Download the full report here.

In 2012, the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) began exploring the possibility of an automated online requesting
process for the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA) in South Africa. Adapting the MySociety
technology “Alaveteli”, we pursued the implementation of a solution, but struggled to find any comprehensive reviews
that could provide insight into user experiences of PAIA. To address this, we have undertaken a comprehensive
review of PAIA users and non-users, and in so doing gained invaluable insight into South Africa’s access to information
environment

Access to information is not a reality for most South African citizens. PAIA — the law created to help realise our constitutional right of access to information — is poorly implemented and under-utilised. In 2012, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) reported that fewer than 15% of audited institutions had specifically budgeted for PAIA implementation and compliance requirements since 2008. This patent reflection of the lack of institutionalisation of the law within government departments was the context in which ODAC first considered automating the process for requesting information (the project was initiated in 2013). That lack of prioritisation is reflected in the state’s subsequent performance in relation to PAIA: in the 2012 reporting period, the PAIA Civil Society Network (of which ODAC is an active member) noted that only 16% of requests resulted in the release of requested information, and more disturbingly, 54% of requests simply remained unanswered.


A Crisis of Accountability

To mark the anniversary of the Snowden revelations, the Open Democracy Advice Centre through the Head of Research, Gabriella Razzano, have taken the opportunity to contribute to a joint publication edited by Simon Davies, and published by The Privacy Surgeon, entitled: "A Crisis of Accountability: A global analysis of the impact of the Snowden revelations".

In light of the Snowden revelations, the report looks at 18 countries, the private sector and the European Union to explore the various facets of the impact his disclosures made on different sectors. ODAC have taken the time to reflect in particular on how the revelations have contributed to change in the perception of whistleblowers in South Africa.

Download the full report here.


 

Empowering our Whistleblowers

Commissioned by the Right2Know Campaign, in 2013 ODAC did an extensive research investigation of the state of whistleblowing in South Africa. Arising from this research, we have developed the book "Empowering our Whistleblowers", a resource that not only provides insight into the whistleblowing environment, but also highlights lacuna's within the environment, as well as the steps necessary to take the whistleblowing agenda forward in South Africa.

The objective of the publication is to shed some light on what the risks for whistleblowers currently are, and in so doing try and figure out practical and political interventions that will create an enabling environment for whistleblowers to come forward.

The conclusion of the research is a 7-point Whistleblowing Test that can assess our whistleblowing enivornment moving forward. This can be summarised as:

  1. A Code of Good Practice is established to provide guidance to private and public bodies.
  2. A civil society whistleblowing network is established.
  3. Whistleblowers are actively encouraged to come forward through financial, private security, and other, incentives.
  4. The forums for whistleblowers are effectively implemented.
  5. All new laws passed support and encourage whistleblowers. Laws are consistent, clear and cohesive.
  6. Whistleblowers are protected from civil, criminal and administrative liability for legitimate public interest disclosures.
  7. The Protected Disclosures Act is amended for maximum benefit.

Download the full publication here.


Housing Waiting Lists: Why they don't exist and what you can do about it

ODAC has prepared a summary of an extensive research piece completed by the Community Law Centre and Socio-Economic Rights Institute entitled: 'Jumping the Queue': Waiting Lists and Other Myths: Perceptions and Practice around Housing Demand and Allocations in South Africa.

The report revealed that, in spite of (but perhaps because of) the importance of the right to adequate housing, there is no singular housing waiting list as is commonly believed: instead, housing allocations depend on a variety of factors - outside of a singular list - in order to determine who can benefit from a specific project.

This influences how we should think of housing, but also how we should conduct our housing advocacy.

For more information download the brochure here.


The Status of Access to Information in Africa

In celebration of International Right to Information Day, the Open Democracy Advice Centre, African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) Campaign and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (through fesmedia Africa) launched the release of our research on the state of access to information in Africa. Reviewing fourteen countries, and using the expertise and experience of APAI Working Group Members, the research provides a useful snapshot of the state of access to information on the continent while providing clear and simple summaries and infographics. Through the website at http://www.righttoinfoday.org/ we hope to centralise our awareness-raising around both the APAI Declaration, as well as the call on UNESCO to have Right to information Day officially endorsed on 28 September of every year.

The research comes to a straightforward conclusion: if access to information advocates want to truly forward access to information in Africa, they must work through their research to identify  "where the gap is".

Download the full report or you can download the infographic summaries.


The Status of Whistleblowing in South Africa by Patricia Martin

The purpose of this paper is to assess how far South Africa has progressed towards the realisation of a meaningful culture of disclosure. The realisation of a meaningful culture of disclosure requires an enabling whistleblowing legal framework, meaningful implementation and enforcement within all organisations of the practices and protections provided in terms of the enabling laws and a societal culture which is receptive to and respectful of whistleblowers

Click on link to download ODAC Whistleblowing Report (2MB)

Multimedia

Posted in Resources

The OGP - This is the future. And you and I have the power to shape it!

The Open Government Partnership is an opportunity for citizens to participate with government and create real change, focused on transparency and development. ODAC, with the support of the Department of International Development, have created these videos to demonstrate just how real change could be. 

The Open Government Partnership: The Long Version (4:04)

 The Open Government Partnership: The Short Version (01:40)

 

Additional ODAC Videos

Resources

Posted in Resources

ODAC Medic Centre houses a hub of knowledge of writers of opinion pieces and contributions made by ODAC in print and on-line media. Below is a selection of ODAC articles

Should you require any further information of key spokesperson on issue relating to Access to information, whistleblowing, Right to Know, please contact Radiyah Hendricks on (021) 461 3096 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  1. The role of buses in SA as an open society - Business Day, 15 November 2010
  2. No,we won’t take our nap now - The Star, 28 October 2010
  3. Fear and disdain keep the public in the darkBusiness Day, 27 October 2010
  4. Revealed hidden effeds of info bill- Cape Argus,27 October 2010
  5. Award is indictment of residents’ gripes on servicePretoria News,21 October 2010
  6. Why Everyone needs to know – Sunday Weekend Argus, 17 October 2010
  7. Shame dogs Tshwane council - Laudium Sun, 15 October 2010
  8. And the booby prize goes to… - Pretoria News, 14 October 2010
  9. City takes honours in Golden key AwardsCape Argus, 7 October 2010
  10. Proposed bill just as bad for the publicSowetan, 29 September 2010
  11. Residents support right to know - Berea Mail, 17 September 2010
  12. Information bill must be fought tooth and nailCape Times, 1 September 2010
  13. ‘only crooks fear transparency’ - Pretoria News, 20 August 2010
  14. History will Judge ANC harshlyThe Star 20 August 2010
  15. State already keeps secrets all too wellSaturday Weekend Argus 14 August 2010
  16. Information is the Oxygen of Democracy – Mercury, 12 April 2010
  17. Don’t stand for official secrecy, says MkhizeMercury, 29 March 2010