Information Commissioner 2023 Annual Report

March 8, 2024 | 0 Comments

Information Commissioner Gitanjali S. Gutierrez Bermuda March 2024

The Information Commissioner’s 2023 Annual Report was made available to the public, after being presented in the House of Assembly.

A spokesperson said, “The Information Commissioner’s 2023 Annual Report is available to the public, after being tabled in the House of Assembly this morning. The Report summarises the use of the Public Access to Information [PATI] Act from 1 January to 31 December 2023. This includes the number of PATI requests made and the outcome of the public authorities’ responses to those PATI requests, as well as the number of applications made to the Information Commissioner’s for an independent review and the outcome of those reviews during the 2023 calendar year.

“As the House prepares to debate the 2024-2025 Budget Estimate for the Information Commissioner this afternoon, the Annual Report also highlights the performance and accomplishments of the Information Commissioner’s Office [ICO] to date during its 2023-2024 budget year, from 1 April 2023 through 31 March 2024.”

“Highlights of the Information Commissioner’s 2023 Annual Report include:

  • 189 new PATI requests were made by Bermudians and residents in 2023, a 14% increase from the year before.
  • 49 public authorities, out of 190, received PATI requests in 2023.
  • 43% of public authorities granted access in whole or in part to public records in their initial responses to a PATI request in 2023.
  • 54 new applications for an Information Commissioner’s independent review were made in 2023, the same number of applications received from the year before.
  • 66 applications for an Information Commissioner’s review were closed in 2023, a 50% increase over the 2022 closures.
  • 55 formal decisions were issued by the Information Commissioner in 2023, as compared to 34 in 2022.
  • 27,800+ views of the ICO’s website occurred.
  • 90,000+ reaches were logged with the ICO’s successful social media campaigns.
  • 71 individuals representing 26 different public authorities attended the Information Commissioner’s Quarterly Briefings in 2023-2024, which featured practice-oriented guidance on handling PATI requests.
  • The Bermuda ICO was re-elected to the 9-member Executive Committee of the International Conference of Information Commissioners, serving until July 2026 alongside the Information Commissioner institutions from Mexico, Albania, Buenos Aires [Argentina], Bangladesh, Germany, Philippines, South Africa and the United States.
  • 86% of the respondents in the ICO’s annual national public awareness survey believe that the PATI Act is important to them, compared to 80% in 2022.
  • 77% of the respondents believe that creating and enforcing the PATI Act is a very important public investment compared to 80% in 2022.

“At the end of the last budget year, on 28 March 2023, the Court of Appeal also issued Information Commissioner v Attorney General, a landmark decision confirming the authority of the Information Commissioner to examine records when conducting a review.”

Information Commissioner Gutierrez has stated that “The Court of Appeal’s decision has entrenched the Information Commissioner’s role in safeguarding the provisions of the PATI Act and in ensuring that PATI is not just a ‘good idea’ but an enforceable ‘right’ to be exercised by the Bermuda public.”

The spokesperson said, “The ICO’s website,, continues to model ‘transparency by design’ by publishing details of the ICO’s public expenditures and work, including its financial policies and procedures, budget, salary scales, credit card statements, unaudited quarterly expenditures and audited financial statements. The Information Commissioner’s decisions, ICO’s Information Statement, decision making documents, meeting minutes, publications and blog are also available on its website.”

ICO 2023 Annual Report Highlights Bermuda March 2024

In her Welcome, Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has highlighted that “It is clear that the public’s expectations have been raised when it comes to being informed about the activities and decision making of government and other public authorities and that a number of public authorities have adopted a more open and responsive approach to PATI requests. In line with the vision of the PATI Act, this critical shift towards a more transparent government and a more engaged community continues to be an integral part of Bermuda’s democratic maturity.”

She also has acknowledged the challenges faced in 2023. The Information Commissioner has warned that following the September 2023 cybersecurity attack against the Government IT-infrastructure, “questions remain about the restoration of access to historical electronic records and the need to preserve access to electronic communications on non-government or alternative communication platforms.”

The Information Commissioner Gutierrez has also noted that public authorities’ concerns about the administering of the PATI Act “are not new and the ICO has been consistent in its call for thoughtful investment in the foundations of good records management practices along with adequate PATI training and support for the public officers tasked with responding to PATI requests. This includes the responsible Minister publishing the Government’s Practice Code on the maintenance and management of public records, required by section 60[2] of the PATI Act to facilitate access to public records. This also includes public authorities taking advantage of resources that are available, such as the Cabinet Office’s PATI/PIPA Unit, which now offers foundational PATI training for Information Officers.”

In looking ahead to the tenth year of the PATI Act, Information Commissioner Gutierrez has stated that using the data that has been collected on the use of the PATI Act since 2015, “we have an opportunity to assess how well the government and other public authorities have delivered on the promises of the PATI Act in the past decade”. In her view, “both the Government and the people of Bermuda have reached a turning point”. For the Government, there is an opportunity to meet the challenges of the PATI through a data- and policy-driven approach that focuses on good records management, adequate training and legislative amendments to strengthen, not restrict, the promise of the PATI Act.

For the people of Bermuda, Information Commissioner Gutierrez has stated that “PATI rights and public information are now in your hands. People are empowered through their PATI rights to help ensure that the actions of government and other public authorities align with the public’s interests. The success of the PATI Act, however, depends on the public understanding and exercising these rights. This includes asking for public records, participating in policy making, advocating for change, scrutinizing the decision-making of public authorities, monitoring public spending and holding public authorities and elected officials accountable.”

The spokesperson said, “As required under section 58 of the PATI Act, the Information Commissioner’s 2023 Annual Report was tabled in the House of Assembly in March 2024. It is available at, with her past Reports.”

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