It is almost a quarter of a century since the Commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act 1982 was enacted. At about the same time, similar legislation was passed in New Zealand (the Official Information Act 1982) and in Canada (the Access to Information Act 1985). More than a decade earlier the US had passed its Freedom of Information Act 1966. The United Kingdom was thus decidedly the last of these comparable democracies to enact freedom of information legislation. Its Freedom of Information Act, passed in 2000, only came fully into force on 1 January 2005.
This difference of maturity provides an opportunity to measure the effect of such legislation on public administration. It provides an opportunity to examine whether the ethos reflected in the legislation has been embraced by public administrators.