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The Auditor General's refusal to give information

Legal background
One of the interesting cases of resolved problems with information refusals is connected with the Bulgarian Auditor General. Under the Auditor General Act all the results from the AC audits are public and must be disclosed. The publicity is connected both with the duty of the Auditor General to disclose such an information through publications and with the obligation to provide the information to those who ask for it.

The story
One of the first signals was received from Razgrad, a small Northern Bulgaria town. The problem was that journalists and local NGO representatives were not provided with information on the results of the Auditor General audit on the social benefits distribution. The means were provided by one of the EU programs for supporting the socially vulnerable people. The signal came from the local AIP coordinator. Later on a similar problem appeared with one of the Bulgarian NGOs, seeking information on the same issue. The problem was important, because other EU installments on the same program were coming. This NGO was included in the special council that controls the distribution of the means.

What happened
The refusal was evidently illegal. It forced us to make our own investigation and to take some actions. A request for information was written, pointing to the legal background of the right to know in this particular area. The action we took was quite successful, in just one week we received a reply from the proper officer in the agency. We were informed that any time, convenient for us we may go and copy all the documents concerning the audit.

Conclusions
The results are the both encouraging and worrying. The agency replied, which is definitely a success. The same time the problem appears - why is it necessary to engage two lawyers to work for a simple request in order to receive a permission that you do not need after the provisions of the Constitution and the Auditor General Act?

 

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English Version • Last Update: 11.11.2000 • © 1999 Copyright by Interia & AIP