BC FIPA Publishes Damning Report on BC Government FOI Performance 2006-2008

BC FIPA has published its analysis of the BC Government’s performance in responsding to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from 2006 to 2008.

The report, titled “Failing FOI: How the BC Government flouts the Freedom of Information Act and stonewalls FOI requests”, reveals that the “administrative system that is supposed to support [FOI] is badly broken.”

Results indicate that response times for FOI requests are typically well in excess of legal timelines; that the [Corporate Requests Tracking System (CRTS)], in spite of claims to the contrary, is still being used to single out particular user groups and treat them differently based on the real or imagined political sensitivity of their requests; and that these distinctions generally lead to longer response times and otherwise affect the outcomes of requests.

The results of this study should be of great concern to anyone concerned about the health of democracy in this province. Accountability of government to its people is only possible if the people have information on which to judge that government’s actions. The record of this government is a pattern of delay, denial, and damage control.

Read the full report (pdf).

BC FIPA and BCCLA Grade the Government on its Implementation of Recommendations on PIPEDA

On November 26, 2006, BC FIPA and the BC Civil Liberties Association made several recommendations on improving the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Today, both organizations jointly presented their evaluation of the government’s performance in responsding to those recommendations, as well as to the previous recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee.

Read the report (pdf). PIPEDA Review Submission – Jan 2008

BC FIPA publishes study on the BC Government’s response to FOI requests over the past 5 years

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.

Download the full report (pdf).