Editorial for 10 April: Reports still lagging

 The Cayman Islands has made many positive changes in the
area of public information and education within the past four or five years.

These changes, which include a new open records law and a
more transparent attitude within the public sector, are all for the good as far
as we’re concerned.

There is one area still of particular concern, however; the
release of some of the reports that government produces. If these reports are
to be laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly, Freedom of Information
requests can be deferred until such time as that happens. They can’t be
deferred indefinitely, but quite lengthy delays can occur in that process.

This has been a continual problem with separate government
administrations for a long time and two recent reports help us illustrate this
case.

The release of the 2010 census, which occurred in April
2012, appears at least to us to be significantly belated. Officials in the
government Economics and Statistics Office had this report ready in November of
last year. The hold up on releasing this vitally important information went
unexplained.

The second report, a bit longer in the making, was the 2008
evaluation of the Public Service Pensions system. Significant details of this
report were released for the first time last week in an annual report document
(as of this writing the 2008 actuarial evaluation itself has still not been
made public.) Again, there appears to be no cogent explanation for why this
report’s release needed to be delayed for three years after its completion.

If justice delayed is justice denied, then we would also
argue that information delayed is information denied.

The Cayman Islands government needs to commit, completely
and finally, to releasing public reports – presumably done for the benefit of
the public – in a timely manner. Otherwise, the information contained in those
records become less and less valuable and the Islands’ oft-stated claims of
openness and transparency seem somewhat exaggerated.

 

 

 

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