Information Commissioner’s Award Recipients

October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez formally announced the recipients of the Information Commissioner’s Award 2019 for Information Officers.

A spokesperson said, “Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez formally announced the recipients of the Information Commissioner’s Award 2019 for Information Officers. This is the first year for the Information Commissioner’s Award, which will be presented annually during Right to Know Week at the Information Commissioner’s Appreciation Reception for Information Officers.

“This Award honours individuals who have excelled in their role as Information Officers in one or more of the following areas: Communication, Innovation, Leadership, and Service.

Dr. Derrick Binns, Head of Public Service; Information Commissioner Gitanjali S. Gutierrez; and Information Officers for the Government of Bermuda at the Information Commissioner’s Appreciation Reception

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“Nominations for the award were invited and encouraged from all public authorities, providing an opportunity to recognize individuals for their hard work and dedication while serving as Information Officers. A significant responsibility of Information Officers is to process PATI requests for their public authority. These individuals also help their public authorities navigate the various other requirements of the PATI Act. Since 2015, Information Officers have been on the front lines of a tremendous change in the way in which public bodies conduct public business and interact with the public, brought about by the PATI Act.

Information Commissioner and 2019 Awardees: Ms. Debra Goins-Francis, Information Officer for the Bermuda Hospitals Board; Information Commissioner Gitanjali S. Gutierrez; and Inspector David Geraghty, Information Officer for the Bermuda Police Service

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“Two Information Officers received the 2019 Information Commissioner’s Award: Ms. Deborah Goins- Francis, of the Bermuda Hospitals Board [BHB], and Inspector David Geraghty, of the Bermuda Police Service [BPS].

“Ms. Goins-Francis has been the Information Officer for BHB since the beginning of the PATI Act. Under her leadership, BHB’s practices have evolved in concrete ways to provide the public with more routine access to information. She has inspired her colleagues to adhere to the principles of accountability, transparency and openness with the public. Her impact is shown by BHB’s increase in public disclosures on issues of interest to the public. Ms. Goins-Francis has personally processed over a dozen PATI requests, while consistently demonstrating a commitment to the principles of the PATI Act and her understanding of the rights afforded to PATI requesters.

Bermuda Hospitals Board Chief Executive Officer and President, Ms. Venetta Symonds; Information Commissioner Gitanjali S. Gutierrez; Ms. Debra Goins-Francis, Information Officer for the Bermuda Hospitals Board

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“Inspector David Geraghty has been the Information Officer for the BPS since the beginning of the PATI Act. Inspector Geraghty has processed over 150 PATI requests received by the BPS, more than any other Information Officer in Bermuda. He was part of the leadership within the BPS that ensured the organisation was prepared to respond when the PATI Act came into force. He has sought and advocated for sufficient resourcing and training to allow the BPS to meet the public’s information needs. As a result, Inspector Geraghty has consistently responded in a professional manner to a steady flow of PATI requests. Throughout this process, he has engaged in his PATI work with integrity and a commitment to the Act and has demonstrated internal leadership amongst his peers ensuring their obligations and responsibilities under the Act are fulfilled.

Inspector David Geraghty, Information Officer for the Bermuda Police Service

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“The Information Commissioner also recognized current and former Information Officers and others within public authorities who have been at the vanguard of implementing the PATI Act during its initial years and who, from the perspective of the Information Commissioner, have provided commendable service at a time that was distinct to the historical development of the PATI Act. The Information Commissioner recognised: Michael Soares [Department of Information and Digital Technologies]; Pamela Burrows and Denise Saunders [Ministry of Finance Headquarters]; Karla Lacey [Bermuda Tourism Authority]; Sharmette Pond and Karen Dill [Customs Department]; Deborah Levine [Bermuda Land Development Company Limited]; Carlita O’Brien [Department of Human Resources]; Dr. Danette Ming [Department of Immigration]; Verlina Bishop [Department of Health]; and Robyn Skinner, Joshua Correria and Sarah D’Alessio [Ministry of Health Headquarters].

Information Commissioner Gutierrez stated that “Many competencies are required to be an effective Information Officer – analytical skills, strong communication skills, the ability to interact professionally with the public, to name a few. In addition, Information Officers are often required to have courage, integrity, and a dedication to good governance if they are to perform their role well. It is my honor to recognize the contributions that these individuals have made as change leaders.”

“The Information Commissioner’s Office expresses its appreciation to all Information Officers who continue to represent themselves and their respective public authorities in a manner that elevates the public’s rights under the PATI Act.”

- Photo credit: Alexander Masters

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