ACARM Symposium: Government Secrecy in the Era of Openness, London, United Kingdom, 19 June 2015 - Call for Papers!

In 2011, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) was established as a vehicle to support and promote transparent and accountable government internationally. The movement towards government openness has spurred new approaches to promoting government transparency and called into question the effectiveness of existing approaches, such as Freedom of Information. However, the persistence of the use of pre-existing secrecy and security measures has not been examined in this context. Despite the high profile of the openness movement, very little attention has been given to the laws, policies and practices that continue to be used to restrict access to information, for instance Official Secrets legislation, the Lord Chancellor's Security and Intelligence Instrument, the Defence Notice (D-Notice) system, protective marking policies, and established practices on the closure of government files. These impediments to access are unknown to most people seeking information from government. In what ways are they still used to limit access to information and how effective are Freedom of Information and other openness measures while these impediments exist?


The Association of Commonwealth Archivists and Records Managers (ACARM), with the generous support of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, will hold a one day symposium to consider the tension between secrecy and openness in government information management.

ACARM invites offers of papers on topics such as:

  • The application of secrecy laws and instruments in the context of Freedom of Information and Data Protection
  • The progress towards open government between the Waldegrave Initiative and the Open Government Partnership
  • Digital technology's impact on the permeability of government; leaks, whistleblowing and viral information dissemination
  • The effects of organisational culture on the openness of Commonwealth bureaucracies
  • Changing policies and practices (for instance revisions to protective marking policies or the transition to a 20-year rule) and their implications for access
  • Innovative approaches to opening archives to the public and how they address or challenge legacy secrecy measures

Offers of papers should include the author's contact details and an abstract of no more than 500 words. 

The deadline for submissions of abstracts is 20th February 2015. Abstracts should be sent to

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