Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Government mismanagement and Orwellian Secrecy

Two letters to the press on Government mis-managment: I was very interested to read your article on the new report ‘Art of Darkness’, by the information lobby group Open Democracy, (“'Orwellian' government unit obstructs freedom of information, says report,“ 25 November) Since the FOI Act 2000 came into force in 2005, I have made many FOI submissions to several different Government departments and quangos. It has become clear that the speed of response has slowed down markedly, and degree of disclosure has become significantly eroded through redaction, or downright refusal to provide substantive response. In one instance, an application made to the national nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, (ONR) on its review of small modular nuclear reactor (SMRs) and advanced nuclear reactors (ANTs) - originally submitted in August 2019 - has still not been fully substantively answered. ONR several times asked me to limit the scope of my application by time periods and areas on interest. I was invited to speak to different ONR experts by phone, nominally so they could understand exactly what information I was seeking, but in practice to reduce significantly the scope of my FOI request, to limit disclosure. I persisted with my application early this year, despite being hospitalised by a serious illness, and in the spring received an opprobrious letter from the chief executive, de facto telling me off for being so persistent in demanding they disclose the requested information, and complaining the delays were unacceptable.. Now, with the revelation of this cabinet office clearing house, I can put 2 and 2 together, and understand why ONR has creatively stalled replying in full. I have asked ONR whether they passed on my original request to this clearing house, rightly labeled as Orwellian. I trust it will not take another 15 months to find out the answer! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Daily Mail has provided an important public service in its excellent Monday morning expose of the widespread misuse and waste of hard-earned taxpayers’ money( Daily Mail) on an extraordinary range of luxuries and fripperies. I would however take exception to the inclusion of ergonomically designed office chairs. I regard Government departments and some quangos providing these for staff forced to work at home due to the Coronacrisis as a sensible investment. Significant time off work is caused by chronic lower back trouble, which is sometimes initiated or exacerbated by poor sitting posture at work desks. Such problem are recurring. Even at several £ hundred each, such properly designed chairs engineered to create proper body posture are sensible ways to avoid very painful absence from work in future. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water!

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