"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Felix Collins, turd-polisher

Justice Minister Felix Collins took a break today from slagging another province's judges from the priveleged floor of the House of Assembly, to issue an Orwellian bit of spin about the Openness of DanGov:

This week the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) released its 2009-10 National Freedom of Information Audit and awarded Newfoundland and Labrador a B- grade. Each year the CNA releases an audit of responses to freedom of information requests made to provinces, the Federal Government, municipalities and this year included universities.

"The grade of B- from the Canadian Newspaper Association further demonstrates that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is open and accountable to the people of our province," said the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. "The Provincial Government ranked high in disclosure to the requests of the auditors and as well, ranked second best among the provinces in responding within the nationally accepted period of 30 days to freedom of information requests."


"The Williams Government has a strong record of openness and accountability which includes establishing the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, introducing the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, as well as the Lobbyist Registration Act and the Transparency and Accountability Act," said Minister Collins. "Our government is committed to acting in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and that includes ensuring open and timely access to information which they request."
The Minister, of course, glosses over some of the more interesting detailed findings of the CNA audit [pdf link]

One would think that it would be rather easy for institutions to find lists of freedom of information requests; after all, the very offices that handle requests also maintain the records. But that wasn’t always apparent in the response times for this request. Take Saskatchewan for example. It took the provincial justice department three months to release an Excel spreadsheet of requests. An official blamed spelling errors in an initial release package as well as staff shortages for the long delay.

Despite the slow pace, Saskatchewan actually did better than many provinces, in that it released the records in the requested format.

As with the other requests for electronic records, an institution was given credit for full disclosure only if the records were released unsevered in a readable electronic format. So, those institutions that provided paper printouts from a database for spreadsheet, for example, were credited with partial disclosure only. Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Alberta were all credited with partial disclosure. Only P.E.I., Yukon and Saskatchewan released the records as requested.
[Emphasis added]

Then again, the respondent department in Dannystan might — might — be forgiven for not providing an Excel spreadsheet, as requested, in, umm, Excel spreadsheet format. After all, despite the wording of the Freedom From Information Act:
10. (1) Where the requested information is in electronic form in the custody or under the control of a public body, the head of the public body shall produce a record for the applicant where

(a) it can be produced using the normal computer hardware and software and technical expertise of the public body; and

(b) producing it would not interfere unreasonably with the operations of the public body.

not only does Danny Williams-Government contends that it is correct to respond to such requests by providing decidedly unelectronic paper printoffs of such records, but the Dannystan Bureau of Freedom From Information agrees with their interpretation.

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At 7:22 PM, May 13, 2010 , Blogger Ed Hollett said...

Geez, I have one on this as well in the pipeline.

The best possible score was 30.

This crowd scored 17. If two points above half is a B plus then the whole scoring system is shagged up.

But even so: if B plus represents the third best and that is a score of a mere 56%, then they all should hang their heads in shame.


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