The Energy Commission was set up by the government in February last year in response to rising electricity prices.
The committee will evaluate energy policy to 2030 and 2050, and mayors, industry, the energy industry and consumers will all be represented.
– We want to get clarification on how the commission relates to the provisions of the Archives Act on record keeping and documentation procedures, National Archives expert Inga Polstad tells NRK.
– We simply want to inquire whether they have an archive and whether it is really true that they do not have anything that ought to be in a journal.
The Energy Commission submits its report on February 1.
However, the manner in which the commission has operated over the past year is shrouded in the strictest secrecy.
This caused many parties to react.
The Committee believes that all meeting notices and minutes are internal, and therefore it is not necessary to provide access to them.
When NRK requested a copy of the public postal record, the secretariat referred to the reports posted on the committee’s website, and to an exception clause in the archive regulations.
The refusal was “the Energy Authority did not find it appropriate to keep the internal documents in the journal”.
The investigation began
The National Archives will now investigate whether the commission’s record-keeping was in line with the Archives Act.
In a letter dated Friday, the committee was asked to answer a number of questions.
“General commissions are required to maintain archives, either by themselves or by means of an appointing body, see Archives Regulations § 2(4)” This came in the message sent by the Norwegian Archives Department.
They ask the Committee to explain the general management of archives in the Authority, and to indicate whether they keep records of documents that are not called internal in the Authority.
The National Archives expert says she is amazed that a public committee that has been in operation for nearly a year does not have a single document to keep in a mailing journal.
– It may be so, but perhaps I can say that I am at a loss. That’s why we’re asking them for an explanation, says Pollstad.
– Can they violate the archives law?
– It might well happen. I don’t know, but this could happen. That’s why we sent this message.
He says they still have postal records
Faced with criticism from the National Archives’ custodian, committee chair Lars Sørgaard said the denial of access to NRK was phrased in a way that “could be misunderstood”.
– We would like to point out that the Energy Authority maintains archives. All incoming and outgoing documents are registered, this means a postal journal, writes in an email.
– We make it clear that we firmly believe that no crime was committed – This is a misunderstanding.
When asked why the committee failed to turn over the postal record when they received a request to do so, and instead referred to exceptional provisions in the archive regulations, he replied:
– If we gave incomplete information that could be misunderstood in the first place, I am very sorry.
– Did you participate in this operation?
– I don’t want to say anything about it. I’m responsible. I won’t say whether or not I was involved.
Sørgard says the committee will soon provide NRK with a new answer on the access request.
Conscious attempt to train
Tron Strand chairs the Press Publicity Committee and has read NRK’s requests for access and the Energy Committee’s response.
He is clear in his judgment.
– Only when the criticisms of the National Archives have been reported to the committee do they see fit to inform the NRK that they already have a journal and overview of incoming and outgoing mail. This happens one month after sending the first application for access to the commission.
– So the access issue cannot be understood in any other way than a deliberate attempt to train and undermine an explicit legal right.
– Access to public documents and records, including all communications by email and all other electronic platforms, Strand says, is not something a publicly appointed committee can avoid.
– If we do something objectionable, we must, of course, correct it as soon as possible. Of course, we didn’t consciously try to train transparency, Surgard replies.
NRK also asked Oil and Energy Minister Terje Asland to comment on the matter.
– Now, first of all, the committee must be given the opportunity to respond to the letter sent from the National Archives. Communications consultant Stein Grimsrud wrote in an email that it was not normal for the department to get involved in this before the committee responded.
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