Editorial for March 22: Government must back FOI

While it’s good news that the Freedom of Information Law is working, we believe it could work better.

Apparently Freedom of Information Commissioner Jennifer Dilbert agrees.

We’ve had the law on the books for a full two years now, but there are still some in Government who don’t like the law.

It remains clear to us that, in the view of some civil service departments, the FOI process is quite tedious and, frankly, unnecessary.

We disagree.

Civil servants must remember that the reason FOI was brought into being in the first place was to ensure that openness and transparency continued in Cayman’s government, no matter who was in charge.

Mrs. Dilbert says the civil servants entrusted with granting or denying Freedom of Information requests need to ‘buy in’ to the law.

For the most part, the flow of information has eased up since the passage of the law.

Many government-appointed boards are proactively posting the minutes of their meetings on their websites. Other government bodies have released reams of information when approached with FOI requests. Many of these civil servants know that eventually there is going to be more transparency and accountability throughout all of government.

But for some there is still that air of secrecy that has lingered so long within the Cayman Islands Civil Service.

We would argue that those within government who don’t want to play by FOI’s rules are getting their cues from leaders higher up in government.

Mrs. Dilbert is quite right. There does have to be a political and bureaucratic willingness to embrace a culture of openness and proactive disclosure.

The leaders of the Cayman Islands must be seen to be embracing FOI if those beneath them are expected to follow suit.

For the most part FOI is a great step forward toward democracy in the Cayman Islands.

For those who have come on board with FOI, we say thank you. It has made getting needed information easier for all concerned.