47% Of 136 PATI Requests Granted Last Year

July 31, 2018

In 2017, public authorities reported receiving 136 new PATI requests and they granted access to all or parts of the records in 47% of those requests.

This is according to the Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Report 2017 on the operation of the Public Access to Information [PATI], which has been tabled in both Houses of Parliament and is now available to the public.

“As required by section 58 of the PATI Act, the Information Commissioner’s Annual Report 2017 presents statistics on the number of PATI requests public authorities have received and the operation of the Act from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2017,” the ICO said.

“The Report also highlights the accomplishments of the Information Commissioner’s Office during the 2017-18 fiscal year from 1 April 2017 through 31 March 2018. This includes the outcomes of work to strengthen, and to enforce, the right of access to public records.

“The 2017 Annual Report highlights the role of the Information Commissioner as a new good governance institution for Bermuda. “Bermuda is establishing a strong access to information regime in which we can all take pride,” said Information Commissioner Gutierrez in the Report’s Welcome message.

“Central to this regime is the role of the Information Commissioner to safeguard access to public information and strengthen the accountability of public authorities to our public.

“The report features the April 2017 debate sponsored by the Information Commissioner for the Bermuda National Debate Team. The national debaters researched and argued the question of whether individuals should be able to file PATI requests anonymously.

“This educational event provided an opportunity for our future political, community and professional leaders to discuss a topic of national importance for the PATI Act.

90-minute live video replay of the debate in April 2017

“In 2017, public authorities reported receiving 136 new PATI requests. Public authorities granted access to all or parts of the records in 47% of those requests. The exemption from public disclosure most often cited was the personal information exemption.

“The public authorities with the highest number of new PATI request reported to the ICO were the Bermuda Police Services [37] and the Ministry of Health Headquarters [14].

“The Government of Bermuda Ministry with the highest number of reported requests in 2017 [excluding Bermuda Police Services] was the Ministry of Health, with 17 requests received by its departments.

“Public access to information keeps public authorities operating at their highest level of accountability. It ensures that with each decision, each expenditure and each program, the public is always present. The right to access information is an opportunity for those who are governed to hold accountable those who govern on a daily basis,” stated Information Commissioner Gutierrez.

“The Information Commissioner recognises that, “Importantly, we have seen public authorities who embrace transparency as a chance to share openly their accomplishments, challenges, expertise and willingness to improve.

“These public authorities welcome accountability for what it aspires to be: an opportunity to engage more fully with an informed public. This new relationship can only lead to improvements in government services, programs, spending decisions and governance.”

“The Annual Report 2017 is available at www.ico.bm or by emailing a request for a copy to info@ico.bm. Limited copies are available from the Information Commissioner’s Office at the Valerie T. Scott Building, 60 Reid Street, Hamilton.”

The 44-page Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Report follows below [PDF here]:

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  1. sage says:

    Despite public access to records, 53% of requests denied.