FOI requests drop off

Public requests seeking information from the Cayman Islands government and its related authorities and companies have steadily tapered off over the last six months.

foi requests

Mrs Dilbert

Since the Freedom of Information Law (2007) took effect on 5 January up through 30 June, a total of 314 requests have been made by the public. About one-third of those requests (117) came in the first month the law was enacted.

In February, 55 requests were made; in March that number jumped again to 87; in April 56 FOI requests were made; in May 45 such requests were made; and in June only 36 FOI requests were made.

‘Statistics are showing a great deal of success in granting access to records,’ a report from the FOI coordinator’s office read.

Just more than half (52 per cent) of the open records requests made to Cayman’s government agencies since January have either been granted in full or were never processed because the records already existed in the public domain.

Another 14 per cent of the requests for information were granted in part, meaning some of the data was either not released or was released in redacted form.

About 12 per cent of all the requests made were denied outright, deferred from release, or exempted from release under the FOI Law.

Twenty-three per cent of the requests were not possible to answer because no records existed or the request had been withdrawn by the applicant.

The vast majority of the open records requests had been answered within the time limits prescribed by the Freedom of Information Law.

However, statistics showed that the number of open records requests being delayed beyond limits set by the law increased as time went along.

In January, just one request was delayed beyond legally established time limits. In June, that number had jumped to nine.

Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert also recently noted that FOI appeals have not all been answered or responded to within appropriate time limits, largely because of a lack of staffing for her office at the outset.

However, Mrs. Dilbert indicated she was generally pleased with how the FOI process in Cayman was working.