April 21, 2021

Cayman Islands Freedom of Information Annual Statistics

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Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.31.10 PMAs part of the annual Right to Know Week events, the Information Commissioner’s Office has published the 2015 Annual Statistics Report on Freedom of Information. The Report is based on requests registered and tracked in the central FOI tracking system which is used by the majority of Information
Managers (IMs) across the Public Sector, and provides key statistics on the use of FOI from January 2009
– when the Law came into effect – to June 2015.

A few highlights from the 2015 Annual FOI Statistics:

•In 2014-15 702 requests were made, which is the highest number since 2009-2010 (which covered a period of 18 months);
•Once again, the Immigration Department had the highest number of requests (118);
•In 2014-15 only 50% of requests were answered within 30 calendar days, and the median response time was 31 days, up from 25 days in 2013-14;
•In 2014-15 the proportion of requests granted in full (i.e. in which the applicant receives full disclosure of the requested information) reached an all-time low of 39%.

The Acting Information Commissioner, Mr. Jan Liebaers, called the results disappointing, adding that, “these statistics clearly show that Government at large is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to applying the Freedom of Information Law. Applicants have to wait longer than ever before for a response, and are less likely to get what they asked for in full. Although many Government entities make genuine efforts to publish records proactively, this shows that the heralded “culture of openness” remains an aspiration, not a reality. Unfortunately, the trickle-down effects of not appointing an Information Commissioner and the Premier’s open criticism of the FOI Law are sending the wrong message to Government at large, and undermine the good work many Information Managers and other public servants are doing to make their Government more accountable and open as demanded in the
Law.”

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION

ANNUAL STATISTICS

Right to Know Week 2015

Jan Liebaers MA CA LLM
Acting Information Commissioner

September 2015

Freedom of Information Annual Statistics

Right to Know Week 2015

Freedom of Information Statistics, RTKW 2015

INTRODUCTION
The Freedom of Information Law (FOI Law) came into effect over six years ago, and this report provides part of the statistical background against which Freedom of Information (FOI) in the Cayman Islands can be assessed.

As intended, the FOI Law has resulted in greater governmental openness and transparency since its inception in January 2009. Across the Public Sector more information is being made available proactively or upon demand than before, and where necessary, the FOI Law continues to provide an important additional means of balancing the right to access with the legitimate need to withhold some records. In its balanced approach, the Law starts from an assumption of openness and creates a general right of access, but also restricts access for a number of specific, limited reasons consistent with the system of constitutional democracy in the Cayman Islands. Where access remains in dispute, requests can be internally reviewed and appealed to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent entity responsible for hearing, investigating and ruling on appeals under the Cayman Islands’ Freedom of Information Law (2015 Revision).

The ICO also promotes access rights to Government records and monitors compliance of the public authorities in upholding the FOI Law.

METHODOLOGY
FOI requests are registered and tracked in a central tracking system which is used by the majority of information managers (IMs) in public authorities across the Public Sector. Thanks to the tracking system, and in accordance with the reporting requirements of the Information Commissioner in the Law itself, important statistics are known and the use of FOI can be tracked over time. This report contains such statistics for the period from January 2009 to the end of the last financial year 2014-15.

Unfortunately, it is necessary to point out the limitations of the tracking system, and therefore also of this annual statistical report. Data entry is not an exact science, and although many IMs diligently enter data for each request that is made, there are also a number of public authorities that do not have access to the tracking system. The use of the government FOI tracking system known as JADE is a requirement of the Freedom of Information (General) Regulations, 2008 (regulation 24). The ICO intends to investigate compliance with this provision in the coming financial year.

As a result, an estimated 20% of requests are not being logged into the system (and are not represented in this report). This means that, while the multi-year statistics do show actual trends, many of the precise figures relating to requests included in these tables and graphs are significantly lower than the actual numbers of requests processed by IMs. As well, because data on internal reviews and appeals are not entered systematically, it is likely that actual average response times (i.e. the time before an initial response is provided to an applicant) are slightly shorter than the ones reported in this report.

We hope that you will find this statistical report interesting and useful, and we encourage you to contact the ICO if you have any further questions.

JADE is maintained by the Cabinet Office, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is grateful to the Cabinet Office for providing many of the raw data for this report.

All images and stats are part of the above Report.

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