The Center for Freedom of Information (CFOI) requested information disclosure to the 18th presidential transition team on Jan 10 regarding the status of their meetings and meeting minutes.
1. Status of meetings held so far since the launch of Park’s transition team. (inc. Name of meetings, date, lead department, attendees, regular/non-regular)
2. Status of meeting minutes written so far since the launch of Park’s transition team.(inc. Name of meetings, date, document number, attendees)
3. Number of shorthand records written so far since the launch of Park’s transition team.
4. List of reports the head of the transition team briefed to Park (inc. produced date, title, document number etc.)
5. Plans of recruiting personnel administering public archive (archivist) in the transition team.
The aim was to investigate what the transition team is doing and whether they are placing proper records on their work since they have kept a closed-door attitude.
On Jan 29, 20 days after extending the date due to their heavy workload, the transition team notified that they will partially disclose the information.
The transition team disclosed the information related to 1,2,3 and 5. The information concerning 4, however, has not been disclosed.
It was the list of reports the head of the transition team briefed to Park that was excluded from the disclosure. They informed that this information is currently on internal inspection and therefore it cannot be disclosed. It is difficult to understand why it can’t be disclosed as we only requested them to disclose the list of reports, not the actual reports.
What the CFOI requested was a “list”, which is even unnecessary to request as the law states that this should be made public through websites in order for the citizens to have easy access to the information and to understand the works of institutions. However, the behaviors of the transition team that does not even disclose the list can be described as ignoring citizens’ right to know.
Following is the information disclosed.
Firstly, the transition team disclosed the status of meetings held as below.
This does not show much difference with the schedule that can be found at their website. Maybe it is even worse than the ones on the website. The list of attendees was also requested to see who are attending, but it was actually not disclosed. It is impossible to know who attended the meetings as it only shows positions of attendees.
According to the Freedom of Information Act, names should be protected as personal information. But the Act clearly states that the names of individuals the country or local governments commissioned or requested part of their task shall be disclosed. Although the names belong to individuals, they should be disclosed since it is part of public task.
Nevertheless, the transition team does not disclose the list of attendees. The person in charge at the transition team said “We cannot disclose who attended or not attended the meeting. Who would freely voice their thoughts at the meeting if this information is disclosed? You will receive similar answers when you ask other institutions.” But what the CFOI requested is the list of attendees, not the content of their comments nor the minute itself. Their right to speak can be restricted by disclosing whether they participated the meeting or not? It is a closed minded way of thinking. Moreover, the status of attendees is the one that can always be checked through requesting information disclosure.
Last year, the CFOI requested the minutes of Cabinet meeting and they were disclosed. The above information includes details of the people attended the meeting. The transition team said others will not disclose the information just like what they did, but others already have disclosed the information. It is because this is a common-sense and one of the basics.
Secondly, we requested the status of meeting minutes and shorthand records that were written. The transition informed that they have 62 shorthand records till Jan 28. Shorthand records were used for 3 general meetings, 12 assistant administrator meetings, 3 debates on major government projects and 44 meetings reporting activities of departments.
It is happy to hear that shorthand records are used more often than meeting minutes. Shorthand records which write everything at the meeting is more detailed than meeting minutes that summarize the meeting.
Then, are these records properly supervised?
Lastly, the CFOI requested information on the transition team’s plan to recruit archivists in charge of the records management. According to media reports, there is no specialist responsible for the records management at the transition team. The transition team answered that “We deal with the task related to the records management with an assist from National Archives of Korea and later we will be supported by archivists if necessary”. In the phone call with the transition team, the person who answered the phone said he is in charge of the record management and archivists from National Archives of Korea is planned to be placed at the stage of clearing the transition team. According to the act of public archives management, it is mandatory for public institutions to be staffed with archivists who received a certain level of professional education for the systematic and professional management of records. This is an essential factor for the systematic and faultless management of records. But the transition team is currently without archivists justifying that they are assisted by National Archives of Korea.
The information disclosed by the transition team is at an insufficient level. They over interpreted the clauses on nondisclosure and refused to disclose the ones that need to be disclosed. The ones they disclosed also have insufficient content.
Apart from this case, the transition team refused to disclose information about activity reports per department that the CFOI requested. We can understand that some information in the reports cannot be disclosed, but some others can be surely disclosed without any problems. Although the transition team needs to disclose as much as possible at this moment the trust of citizens is on decrease due to their lack of communication, it seems they remain same.
Due to this, the CFOI is planning to request an administrative trial on February 7 protesting against the transition team that undisclosed/partly disclosed the information. We will pay attention to the decision of the Central Administrative Appeals Commission concerning the “no communication” of the transition team.
The president elect, Park, previously pledged the Government 3.0 to spread information disclosure and share information with everyone. But her will to communicate with citizens has disappeared. We just want her to be at least faithful to the Government 1.0, which is the information disclosure, let alone the Government 3.0.
Attached is the information disclosed by the transition team.