THE pilot scheme to improve public access to official information would appear to highlight the gap between political rhetoric about the need for open government and the reluctance of bureaucrats to let the public know what they are doing. The Government clearly needs to restrict access to much information, but when public servants seize individual medical records in pursuit of a tax case while citing the need for confidentiality about their own work, the suspicion arises that their idea of transparency is a two-way mirror that allows them to find out more about citizens without themselves being observed. The main issues that interest Hong Kong people are relations with China, housing and law and order, but that is not immediately apparent from the departments involved in the pilot scheme. Instead, increased access will be given to such branches and departments as Recreation and Culture, Highways and Government Supplies. That's fine for anyone who wants to know where there's a good football pitch, how to get there and whether to take his own ball, but hardly represents a revolution in the way the Government works. No one would reasonably expect the Government to open the files on its dealings with Beijing, but there is no obvious excuse for excessive coyness about housing or the police. Access to Legal Department information would be most welcome if it threw light on who was responsible for employment policies relating to the crook Warwick Reid, and for paying a lawyer $17.1 million to complete some of the work he abandoned when he quit the department. The main irony of the pilot scheme in open government is that the Government has hardly appeared forthcoming about the scheme itself. Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the departments and branches included were carefully chosen. It's good to know bureaucrats did not rely on the flip of a coin, but the administration must learn that the new-found public interest in such issues as open government require basic changes in the way the Government works, not just in how it markets itself.