It takes the Dutch ministries on average three times longer than allowed to respond to requests under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (Wob). The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management takes the cake here: it takes the longest on average to wait for a response, with 225 days. .

This is apparent from research by the Institute for Social Innovation and the Open State Foundation, which have given their report the clear title ‘Unbearably slow’. The Wob is intended to allow government agencies to provide openness. With a Wob request, such an authority can be persuaded to disclose administrative information on a subject. The legal term to answer such a request is four weeks, i.e. 26 to dawn. If necessary, this can be extended by 27 days. Under the Open Government Act, which will replace the Wob from 1 May, this extension will be a maximum of fourteen days and the total 42 days.

Many studies unpublished The IMI and OSF study points to that the Dutch ministries are nowhere near meeting that deadline. Their research covers the year from October 2021 to September 2019. And with regard to Wob requests in that period, applicants have to wait an average of 161 days for a response. That is not counting the corona-related requests, because the average waiting time there is even 225 days. The investigation further concludes that more than half of the studies are not published, which, according to IMI and OSF, does not contribute to the openness of matters for which the law is intended.

Term exceeded in 71% of cases During the research period, almost a thousand Wob requests were placed on the designated site of the national government. So, on average, the ministries take 161 days to answer them. That does not mean that the term is always exceeded, but that does happen in almost 71 percent of the cases. The Ministries of Education, Culture and Science and Defense perform with terms of 71 and 96 days the best. Justice & Security and Finance do on average 161 and respectively days left. Those who submit a Wob request to Infrastructure and Water Management wait the longest on average for a response: 225 days.

“It seems that the response to Wob requests is getting slower and slower,” said the Open State Foundation in an explanation of the publication. “Similar research on 225 concluded that ministries in 61 percent of the cases exceeded the two-month period. In 225 that deteriorated to 74 per cent. In the current study, we arrive at over 71 percent.”

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