PATI: Public Access To Information Update

August 19, 2010

The Cabinet Office announced that Mr. Wayne Carey, Permanent Secretary, has been seconded to the Cabinet Office to spearhead the implementation of Public Access To Information [PATI].

“Mr. Carey said that he is pleased to be able to play a role in the implementation of public access to information in Bermuda and that he hopes PATI will drive a culture shift among public authorities so that more information is proactively published rather than having to be requested under the Act,” a spokesperson said.

“The purpose of the PATI Act is to give members of the public the right to request and access government-held information subject to certain limited exceptions. The Act is the cornerstone of the Government’s commitment to openness and transparency and is expected to be fully implemented within the next two to three years.

Mr. Carey added, “The PATI Act has now been passed by the Legislature, but before it can be made operational, the necessary procedural framework must be established to facilitate access to information requests. This will include the establishment of a PATI Unit, the preparation of PATI guidance documents and codes of practice, the launch of a PATI public awareness campaign, the training of public authorities on PATI, and the establishment of an Information Commissioner’s Office under PATI.”

A spokesperson continued, “Mr. Carey has already begun preparation of an implementation plan, and will soon begin to reach out to public authorities with regard to their roles and responsibilities under PATI. It is anticipated that the PATI public awareness campaign will commence in the next few months and that over time the whole of Bermuda will be able to ‘ride the PATI Train’ and exercise their right to access information.

“Mr. Carey noted that the original PATI Bill was amended after a successful public consultation campaign in which members of the public made over 500 submissions. Following the consultation period, the Bill was amended so that it covered all government-held information, regardless of the date that the information was created. Each consultation submission is publicly available for inspection at the Cabinet Office.

“In addition to granting members of the public the right to request and access information, key features of the Act include the proactive release of information on public authorities, the establishment of an Information Commissioner who can make binding decisions on access, and a mandated review by the Information Commissioner of public authority compliance with the Act within 2 years of implementation.

The full 28-page PATI Act is below, click ‘Full Screen’ for greater clarity:

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