BC FIPA has released a study on the BC Government’s response to freedom of information (FOI) requests over the past five years.
The study titled “Access Denied” reveals many shortcomings in the administration of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act (FIPPA).
Results indicate that response times for information requests are often in excess of legal timelines; that the Corporate Requests Tracking System (CRTS), described as “the most sophisticated FOI tracking system of any government in North America”), is used to flag the requests of particular user groups, based on political sensitivity; that these distinctions can lead to longer response times; and that this discrimination affects the outcomes of requests.
Public use of FIPPA has declined over a five-year period, in particular requests made by individual users. The main reason for this decline is growing disenchantment of FOI requesters with a process that is increasingly fraught with government resistance, evasion and delay.
BC also lags behind other provinces in supporting FOI infrastructure. In particular, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been undermined by a double blow of funding cuts and assignment of increasing responsibilities. During the same period, funding for discretionary government communications in BC in the form of advertising has increased substantially.