OMB PR – Right to Know Day is 28 Sept 2023
26 September 2023
FOI going strong as Cayman marks 15th annual Right to Know Day
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the Cayman Islands went well above pre-pandemic levels during 2022, as the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) recorded 452 public requests for information made across government.
That’s the highest number of FOI requests made in any year since 2018. The total falls within the average OMB has seen since the Freedom of Information Act took effect in January 2009. Nearly 7,500 FOIA requests have been made to Cayman Islands Government entities since that time.
For last year, OMB found that the greatest number of FOIA requests were made to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (85), followed by the Health Services Authority (25), Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman (20), the Department of Planning (15) and the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands (15).
Government records showed that almost three-quarters of the information requests made in 2022 were granted in full or in part. Roughly 68% of the FOIA requests made were responded to by government within the first 30 days. Another 25% were responded to within 30-60 days, which is allowed in some circumstances.
“Although there are some FOIA appeals made to our office which involve drawn-out responses and, in some cases, took more than a year for the entities to fully respond to requests, the numbers show that is not the case for the vast majority of FOIA requests made to government,” the Ombudsman, Ms. Sharon Roulstone said.
Ms. Roulstone continued: “The Ombudsman’s office just concluded our 100th FOIA formal hearing decision earlier this month. It’s great to see the public’s interest and use of this legislation has persisted through our 15th year of marking the Right to Know.”
Making a FOIA request does not guarantee that the records sought will be disclosed if one of the Act’s exemptions applies. In one-third of requests made last year, exemptions were claimed by authorities seeking to deny access to the record. In general, the FOI Act requires that requests must receive a government response within 30 days.
For more information about FOIA in the Cayman Islands, please see our Stats Report for 2022 here: https://www.ombudsman.ky/resources/resources#cat-95 . Individuals wishing to appeal FOI decisions to the Ombudsman may contact our office at 946-6283 or email us at [email protected].