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Today's editorial cartoon

Government appoints Cayman’s first ombudsman

Sandy Hermiston of Canada has been appointed as the first ombudsman of the Cayman Islands, a position created under provisions of the Ombudsman Law, 2017. Ms. Hermiston will serve as Complaints Commissioner and Information Commissioner.

Ombudsman to replace commissioners

Abolishing the independent offices of the information commissioner and complaints commissioner, newly released legislation proposes to create an ombudsman’s office to oversee open records requests, complaints of government maladministration and public complaints against the police.

Government ordered to hand over ‘Ritch Report’ to FOI office

Cayman Islands Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose has been ordered to turn over an immigration consultant’s report to the information commissioner’s office, after the government initially denied the information commissioner access to the report. The consultant’s report is the subject of an open records request filed by the Cayman Compass.

EDITORIAL – ‘Relentless’!

Although it is unlikely Premier McLaughlin intended for us to take it as a compliment, being labeled “relentless” is among the highest praise a newspaper could ever hope to receive. We’ve already got the T-shirts in production.

Liebaers: ‘It’s Yours, Just Ask!’

It is all too easy to forget that government works for the people, and that information held by public authorities should be open and accessible, either proactively or upon request.

Review of permanent residence system withheld

A government-commissioned review of the Cayman Islands permanent residence approval system, which was completed earlier this year, has been withheld from release by the Office of the Premier.

Government sought $108 per hour charge for FOI request

The Cayman Islands Information Commissioner has rejected an attempt by the government to charge an individual $108 per hour so a civil service department could recover public records the person sought via a Freedom of Information request.

Acting Information Commissioner: Data protection bill may fail EU test

The man who is to be largely responsible for the implementation of Cayman’s data protection legislation, if and when it is approved by lawmakers, has warned that the bill may not pass muster with the European Union if government moves to a combined “ombudsman” office, as is currently planned.

EDITORIAL – Gov. Kilpatrick: Three cheers for one more year

It comes as welcome news that Cayman Islands Governor Helen Kilpatrick has decided to extend her time in office another year, until September 2017.

Cayman police to go to UK for Tempura probe

Detectives with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service are due to be dispatched to the U.K. later this year as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the former senior investigating officer of the ill-fated Operation Tempura corruption probe, the Cayman Compass has learned.

Operation Tempura files review ‘impeded’

The Cayman Islands information commissioner and the former senior investigator of the ill-fated Operation Tempura police corruption probe have alleged that top local officials took steps during the last two years to block public access and scrutiny to records related to the Tempura probe.

A month-by-month roundup of Cayman’s 2015 news stories

Top stories of 2015 in the Cayman Islands

Top stories of 2015: The year of the report

The theme for government in 2015 may well have been “The Year of the Report.” Ministers and civil servants have been going through a yearlong review of the EY Report, which calls for numerous government reforms.
  

Cayman gets a 'C' on open data in global rankings

In a global index on open government data the Cayman Islands scored 61, on par with Pakistan and Russia.

On corruption: The duties of the governor

The Cayman Islands has a reputation for being a hotbed of corruption, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Whistleblower oversight added to understaffed watchdog office

A government watchdog office which has no permanent leadership and whose future has been uncertain for more than a year will be given responsibility for monitoring whistleblower cases, Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson has confirmed.

Fuel pricing data not public, commissioner rules

Although the Cayman Islands government may have access to certain fuel pricing information from local distributors, it is not currently considered to be public, Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers ruled.

E-government faces security, customer service challenges

Moving to an e-government system for public services within the next 18 months will present numerous security and service challenges.

Key government posts in limbo

The senior ranks of Cayman's civil service are filled with "acting," but not the Hollywood kind.

Report on farmed turtle deaths kept from public

The infection that hit the turtle farm last year, killing 1,268 green sea turtles over four months, did not come to light for almost a year and a half. The information was finally revealed in a Freedom of Information Law request and subsequent appeal for Cayman Turtle Farm board meeting minutes. The board presentation on the infection was initially redacted, but later handed over along with a host of other information after an appeal.

Premier: EY report 'review' almost complete

The Cayman Islands government has nearly completed its year-long review of a consulting report that sought to both downsize and improve efficiency of the public sector.

For the record: Does government support FOI?

Cayman Islands officials’ apparently equivocal attitude toward government transparency is troubling, perhaps even telling.

Report: Government stalling on FOI requests

More than half of the Freedom of Information requests filed with the Cayman Islands government during the last budget year were not answered within the legally required 30-day time frame.

Data on police patrol boats not recovered

Data on the operations of the RCIPS Joint Marine Unit appears to have disappeared forever.

Information Commission marks Right to Know Week

Marking Freedom of Information’s annual “Right to Know Week,” Acting Commissioner Jan Liebaers describes 2015 as a mix of record filings and growing awareness, but against a backdrop of potential administrative threats to the office.

ID cards 'key' to e-government

A national identification card could be a key part of a new e-government initiative, according to Cayman’s e-Government director, Ian Tibbetts.

Top spots remain empty in watchdog posts

When Cayman Islands Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick leaves the jurisdiction next week, all three independent government “watchdog” offices created under Cayman legislation will have no permanent leaders.

Police patrol boats idled for years

Three police marine unit patrol boats were effectively taken out of service for more than two and a half years and another craft was decommissioned after the government spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to repair it.

EY reform plan: One year later

It has been a year since the Cayman Islands government announced an ambitious public sector reform plan to restructure the civil service, amalgamate certain services, privatize others and sell off certain public assets.

 The reforms were based on a $155,000 consultant report done by EY, and although many of the recommendations were longer-term projects, Premier Alden McLaughlin said in April that six areas in particular had been identified as issues the government would pursue immediately.

 

Audit slams Nation Building expenses

A report by Cayman's auditor general is highly critical of the former Nation Building Fund, but the country's former premier defends the program.

Auditor General Swarbrick resigns

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick resigned on Tuesday after five years as one of the Cayman Islands top government watchdogs.

Second lawmaker opposes independent offices merger

Cayman's independent opposition lawmakers want to preserve separate oversight offices for complaints and information requests.

The 'sanitized' schools report: Mystery solved

Mary Rodrigues, then chief officer of the Ministry of Education, ordered her staff members to rewrite a highly critical report on behavior in Cayman Islands government schools, according to emails the ministry fought to withhold from public view.

Education chief ordered report changes

A highly critical report of behavior management in Cayman’s schools was extensively cut at the request of the chief officer in the Ministry of Education, emails released under the Freedom of Information Law suggest.

Government IT problems widespread

Significant and widespread problems with government's IT infrastrucutre are revealed.

MLA McLean blasts merger of gov't oversight offices

An independent lawmaker speaks out against the merger of two government oversight offices.

Premier: FOI 'unproductive use of time'

Support for open records laws in the Cayman Islands seems to be on the wane among government leaders.

The premier and FOI: From 'signal moment' to 'burden'

In the words of Premier McLaughlin from 2007, it's time “to tear off the shutters of the windows of the Glass House and let the sun shine in.”

'Acting' chiefs and unfilled jobs mount in civil service

The Cayman Islands civil service is having quite a time trying to fill various government jobs at both the top and within the rank and file.

Government releases audits, will continue to seek delays

Government releases a handful of internal audits, but seeks to further delay the release of those reports in the future.

Government fails to meet FOI requests on missing police records

Attempts to retrieve maintenance and service data for the Cayman Islands Joint Marine Unit meet with numerous delays.

Court orders round 3 of Tempura records battle

The quest for Operation Tempura records enters what's likely to be the third stage of a court battle.

Despite issues, Cayman FOI rated among best

Cayman's open records laws get high marks when compared with the rest of the world.

Open records: The Progressives' 'signal moment'

Any step taken by government that undermines the Freedom of Information Law here in the Cayman Islands would signal a retrograde step in the country's development.

Cayman FOI being 'undermined'

Cayman's open records regime is beginning to fall into disrepair, the former information commissioner says.

Modest savings expected from government merger

Government will likely not realize any savings from a proposed merger of two independent oversight offices.

Defending FOI and the information managers

Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers defends the Freedom of Information Law and Cayman's information managers.

Freedom of Information: Ready for upgrade

A review of Freedom of Information processes may be incumbent upon local FOI managers, many of whom appear to be less-than-versed in what the law requires or the limits it may place on compliance.

Government delays controversial audits release

Government backtracks on a long-established open records process for Internal Audit Unit reports.

Premier insists EY reforms progressing

Cayman's government says progress is being made on civil service consolidation and reform.

Tempura settlement figure kept secret

Payouts to three former Cayman Islands cops over Operation Tempura should not be disclosed, the information commissioner says.

Operation Tempura: 'Open investigation,' closed records

Round and round the Tempura documents go, where they’ll end up, nobody knows. But we can hazard a guess … probably down a drain somewhere.

Tempura records case drags on

The end of Stuart Kenohan's lawsuit does not mean the end of legal disputes over the Operation Tempura case.

Judge rules to keep Tempura documents from public

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a visiting Cayman Islands Grand Court judge on Monday agreed that hundreds of pages of records related to the ill-fated Operation Tempura police corruption investigation should be withheld from public release.

New probe in FOI wage data release

The Information Commissioner’s office has launched its own investigation into the release of wage data for more than 20,000 work permit holders by the Department of Immigration.

Auditor's office wins health challenge

Several teams from across the civil services competed to see who could take the most steps in three weeks.

'Element of desperation' to bar Tempura records

Martin Bridger, the former chief investigator of Operation Tempura faces the possibility of criminal charges being filed against him in the fallout from the ill-fated investigation, a court hearing revealed Tuesday.

Criminal case from Operation Tempura still active

Eight years later, the ill-fated Operation Tempura police corruption investigation is still providing plenty of surprises in court.

Operation Tempura matters back before court

The legal remnants of a police corruption investigation that began in 2007 are back before the Cayman Islands courts this week.

Independent bodies lack appointments, certainty

A number of government oversight bodies are currently dysfunctional.

Government meeting records kept out of view

Few boards with the Cayman Islands government publish meeting minutes online.

Williams: OCC/FOI merger not 'good governance'

Cayman's departing complaints commissioner has some parting words.

New option mooted for police complaints

Plans for an independent complaints authority to investigate public grievances about the police could be shelved in favor of moving that role into a new ombudsman’s office.

Information commissioner responds to Compass editorial

I have just read the editorial in the Compass this morning (Dec. 11), and I’d like to respond.I sincerely appreciate your kind words of...

Cayman's loss: Nicola Williams moves on

Nicola Williams is leaving for the U.K. after five-plus years as the Cayman Islands complaints commissioner. She probably should have left after the first six months.

Cayman Islands complaints commissioner resigns

Cayman's government complaints watchdog quits her post amid dissatisfaction over her contract-renewal process.

Protect us (please) from government’s Data Protection Bill

The complexity of the Cayman Islands government's proposed legislation constitutes only one reason for our opposition to it.

Data protection ‘removes’ right to trial

Cayman's latest attempt at data protection falls afoul of human rights advocates.

Cabinet records kept secret

Records of Cabinet decisions are apparently not available under the Cayman Islands Freedom of Information Law.

FOI Law: Open records, closed Cabinet

A recent ruling by the information commissioner puts the Cayman Islands government in complete control of fashioning its own message. This may be perilous – not to the media – but to the government.

OT minister: Governor Kilpatrick sorry for Cayman media slam

The British Overseas Territories Minister said Cayman's governor did apologize over professionally degrading comments about the local press corps.

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