Health ministry makes it to information superhighway

| 25/02/2011

(CNS): In the wake of recent criticisms by the information commissioner that many government departments and public authorities are not using websites to spread information to the public, the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture has finally launched an online presence. Ministry officials stated that will allow the ministry to spread the word about its plans and projects and encourage residents to connect with ministry activities. Visitors to the site will learn more about the ministry’s responsibilities and will be updated on important developments such as new legislation and current government programmes.

There is also a news section to bring people the latest reports from the ministry and its departments, a release from the government information services stated. “We are glad to present this online window on the ministry. It is important that people know what is happening so they can be part of the process. By putting as much information online as possible, we hope that this website will stimulate feedback,” Mark Scotland the health minister said as he invited people to be part of the process by submitting comments and information requests. “Our website is not meant to remain static; it is a work in progress. So if you find yourself looking for relevant information and are unable to find it, contact us through the website.”

Complying with Freedom of Information legislation, some two years late, the website is intended to serve as the ministry’s e-publication tool, offering users access to laws, regulations, budget information and more.

The information commissioner recently observed that many public bodies were under utilising their websites and not fully complying with their obligations.

“Many PAs are insufficiently making use of the opportunities offered by the web to publicize FOI and increase its efficiency,” Jennifer Dilbert said in a report published earlier this month as only a few were making full use of the internet to inform the public about the rules of FOI, applicants’ rights under the Law, the types of information proactively available, and previous requests and their outcomes. “In particular, publication schemes and disclosure logs remain underused tools on PA websites,” she said.

“PAs should recognize the importance of the internet and embrace the available technology to empower the user and increase the efficiency of their services, including FOI, by raising awareness and making tools such as the publication scheme and the disclosure log easily and widely available,” Dilbert added.

In 2008, Computer Services Department set up web pages for all government departments that did not already have an online presence but many of them have made no attempt to update them since. Dilbert said the sites were “essentially pointless” as the information posted in 2008 was no longer relevant.
“Inaccurate information can in fact be harmful, since it makes FOI seem less relevant and serves only to frustrate the public who is seeking information,” the commissioner warned as she added that all public authorities need to review and update their online information.


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Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Some Suggestions:
    1. It might help to put up THIS year’s budget statement, not last years.
    2. Put up the proposed laws that were just talked about changing, specifically the Health related ones.

    • GIS says:

      Thank you. Budget has been updated plus latest laws are on the front page now.