Half of gov’t not making records available online

Two key components of the Cayman Islands Freedom of Information Law and accompanying regulations are not being made available on the internet by about half of Cayman’s public sector entities, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The information commissioner, who is responsible for monitoring open records compliance in government, noted that more than 50 percent of all 89 government entities, authorities and companies do not have an FOI “publication scheme” on their websites. The publication schemes are lengthy documents that state information about the various departments that should be available automatically without an FOI request.

“It seems highly ineffective for public authorities not to publish their publication scheme on their own website,” Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers noted in the report.

Meanwhile, the FOI Law regulations require that all government entities maintain a “disclosure log” of open records requests. The logs are essentially lists of how many records requests the entity received and, if the records were made public, a copy of what was disclosed by the entity responding to the request.

About 47 percent of the public authorities in the Cayman Islands have no disclosure log at all, the information commissioner found.

The FOI Law does not specifically state that public authorities must maintain a website or promote open records on their websites. They are required by law to reveal public information about themselves and the records they hold. Mr. Liebaers said using the internet for these purposes is simple and cost-effective.

“Public authorities can increase their overall efficiency and improve public understanding of their policies, procedures and services by using a website,” he said.

Government entities that do report information and keep track of FOI requests are often slow in doing so, the information commissioner’s review found.

About 26 percent of the public entities reviewed have publication scheme information online, but the information has not been updated.

With regard to disclosure logs of previous open records requests, only three government agencies have one that is up to date. Another 44 entities (49 percent) have a disclosure log, but they have not been updated.

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