Information Commissioner’s 2018 Annual Report

March 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Report 2018 has been released, highlighting the operation of the Public Access to Information [PATI].

The statement released with the report said, “Information Commissioner Gitanjali S. Gutierrez’s Annual Report 2018 on the operation of the Public Access to Information [PATI] Act 2010 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 2018 presents statistics on the number of PATI requests public authorities have received and the operation of the Act from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. The Report also highlights the accomplishments of the Information Commissioner’s Office during the 2018-19 fiscal year from 1 April 2018 through 31 March 2019. This includes the outcomes of work to strengthen, and to enforce, the right of access to public records.

“Highlights from the Information Commissioner’s 2018 Annual Report include:

  • 133 new PATI requests were received by public authorities in 2018
  • The public authorities with the highest number of new PATI request reported to the ICO were the Bermuda Police Services [44 PATI requests] and the Ministry of Legal Affairs Headquarters [9 PATI requests]. The Government of Bermuda Ministry with the highest number of reported requests in 2017 [excluding Bermuda Police Services] was the Ministry of Legal Affairs, with 18 new requests received by its departments.
  • 62% of public authorities’ initial response to the PATI requests granted access in whole or in part to the public records
  • The Information Commissioner received 31 new applications for an independent review of a public authority’s decision on a PATI request, which was a 41% increase in applications from 2017
  • The ICO had 67 cases in 2018 and closed 28 cases, including 13 decisions issued by the Information Commissioner
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office issued 9 Monthly Roundups about its activities
  • 451 subscribers received the ICO’s Monthly Roundup by email
  • The ICO launched a new ICO Annual Return due from public authorities in December 2018 that provided information on the authorities’ compliance with the requirements in the PATI Act to publish their Information Statements, gazette contracts with a value over $50,000, and additional requirements
  • 100% of Government of Bermuda Departments filed their 2018 ICO Annual Return this year
  • The Information Commissioner launched her Quarterly Briefing series for public authorities this year to discuss recent decisions, lessons learned and insights from trends, and best practice recommendations
  • 181 participants from 78 public authorities attended the Quarterly Briefings

“The Information Commissioner’s 2018 Annual Report also provides a timeline of the ICO’s activities and updates on the ICO’s efforts to strengthen the organisation this year. In March 2019, at the 11th International Conference of Information Commissioners, the Johannesburg Charter was adopted to establish a permanent body for the Information Commissioners. Information Commissioner Gutierrez is now part of the 16-member Governance Working Group that will establish processes for this historic new international body.

In commenting on the 2018 Annual Report, Information Commissioner Gutierrez stated, “During 2018, the public had the opportunity to understand the full breadth of their rights under the PATI Act. The PATI Act is designed to help level the playing field between the public and public authorities—all with the aim of improving good governance and the provision of services to the public.”

“When the public looks at an issue and thinks, ‘I want to know more’, the PATI Act is in their hands. The public has the ability to ensure that transparency around public spending, decision-making, and performance will strengthen the accountability to the public in concrete, meaningful ways,” Information Commissioner Gutierrez further explained.

“As the public is using the PATI Act more, our Office has also increased our guidance and resources for the public authorities. Public authorities need the tools and infrastructure to effectively and efficiently process PATI requests. I have highlighted the need for the Minister’s Practice Codes on the administration of the PATI Act and on records management to be published. Contentious public officers want and need these tools to support their good PATI practice.”

The Annual Report 2018 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 full Information Commissioner’s Office Annual Report 2018 follows below [PDF here]:

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