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Information Officers' Society Formed; A Big Initiative to leverage RTI Movement

Information officers serving central public agencies of the Nepal government including ministries and constitutional bodies have established their own network, making strong commitment and vision to leverage the RTI movement and its better practices.

The network formed in the name of 'Society of Information Officers, Nepal (SION)' initially on the involvement of dynamic information officers of central agencies will have broad-based participation of other information officers working with different agencies.

The Society has been set up with Spokesperson and Information Officer at the National Vigilance Centre (NVC) Under Secretary Sher Bahadur Dhungana as its Coordinator, Spokesperson and Information Officer at Nepal's Supreme Audit Institution Office of Auditor General, Joint -Secretary, Mohadutta Timilsina as the Co-coordinator and Information Officer and Under-Secretary at Ministry of Commerce and Supply Under-Secretary Deepak Raj Pandey as Secretary.

Among others in the founding committee of the Society are Information Officer and Under-Secretary at Forest Ministry Yagya Nath Dahal, Under-Secretary and Legal Officer at Ministry of Physical Planning and Works Rajendra Nepal, Under-Secretary and Information Officer at Finance Ministry Bhuminath Sharma and Information Officer at Foreign Ministry Uttam Kumar Shahi.

'It is a substantial initiative taken after intensive exercise and discussion to capitalize on the knowledge, understanding and commitment of the public information officers towards upholding RTI laws and reinforcing Nepal government's action for transparent governance', said Society Coordinator Dhungana.

In the initial stage, the Society has decided to get focused on four works including information officers to train self, training to office-bearers of Nepal government agencies, initiative to have information officers appointed in all agencies and work for the protection of information officers.

It is the tangible outcome of the Freedom Forum's continuous effort and facilitation to organize public information officers and to expedite RTI implementation in a proactive manner.

Freedom Forum's Chairperson Taranath Dahal is advisor to the Society.

The initiative has indicated a leap change in the mindset of government bodies, which has been seemingly reluctant and lackluster in the implementation of RTI. With this, it is indicative that employees at the government agencies are encouraged towards the practice of open governance.

It is noteworthy that the Judicial Training Service Centre on the involvement of Freedom Forum had imparted two-day training to 40 information officers of high-level agencies of the Nepal government two weeks ago.

Being inspired from the training, the information officers have established the Society with the commitment to work for the expansion of right to information.