71% of PA sites fail on FOI

| 20/07/2011

(CNS): A special report conducted by the information commissioner’s office has revealed that 71 percent of government authorities have failed to do anything with the websites provided to them by computer services almost three years ago, if they have one at all. Five PA’s including the ministry of finance don’t even have a website the report found. During its investigation the ICO discovered most public authorities were failing to take advantage of the internet to publish information about themselves and promote Freedom of Information. The FOI presence on the majority of websites is poor or non-existent, the report revealed, and appears to remain a low priority.

“Public authorities can increase their overall efficiency and better inform the public of their policies, procedures and services through the use of a website” Jan Liebaers the deputy information commissioner said. The report was conducted to find out how websites were being used and to assess their effectiveness in the FOI process.

The report revealed that out of the 90 public authorities only nine have a website which the information commissioner’s office was able to award a top class rating of  ‘1’ which means they contain the majority of required information about FOI, have a publication scheme and a disclosure log which are all up to date.

This included Emergency services, the Cabinet Office, the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, Lands and Survey and the Governor’s office among others.

There were five websites rated as ‘2’ which were considered to contain relevant information but they were not completely up to date. CIMA, planning and the UCCI were among the five that fell short of the top rating.

There were 13 websites ranked three in the report which means these sites had basic information about FOI but key information such as publication schemes and disclosure logs were out of date. These sites included the RCIPS and the Tax Information Authority, which the report said were quite good, but they fell down because of outdated disclosure logs which is a key component of the FOI process.

Most websites were ranked at 4 which means they had little more than basic information on them. The report said it was disappointing to find that as many thirty eight public authorities had done nothing at all to the sites created for them. However there were also 26 authorities given the worst rank of five which means they did not have a website at all or the websites contained nothing about freedom of information. “It is astonishing to find that 26 (29%) of the 90 authorities fall into this lowest category,” the report said.

The Cayman Islands Government Office in the United Kingdom; Education Services Department; Ministry of Financial Services, Tourism & Development (Public Finance) Ministry of Financial Services, Tourism & Development (Tourism & Development) and the prison service do not have websites at all. The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps’ website contains such poor information, the report stated, rendering it useless when it came to finding out anything about the authority.

The remaining 20 authorities do have websites and in the case of some of these authorities such as the Tourism Attraction Board they contain useful information about the organization, but nothing at all about the public’s right to access government’s records.
“It seems that some public authorities which have spent money developing a website, could have expended a little more effort and a marginal amount of additional money to expand the website to include information on FOI. It is disappointing to note that FOI does not seem to feature at all on these public authorities’ list of priorities,” the report said.

As well as ranking each of the PAs the report sets out a number of recommendations on how public authorities can improve the functionality of their websites in relation to FOI requirements.  The Deputy Commissioner also highlighted the fact that more useable and effective websites would allow the public to readily access more information, thereby lessening the need for formal requests for records under the FOI Law.  Although public authorities are not obligated by law to have websites given the importance of the internet in the freedom of information process he said they can reduce the number of requests made to authorities.

The investigation confirmed that vast improvements are required to the majority of government websites in order to make them meaningful tools for communication with the public on FOI, the FOI office stated. “Public authorities should take better advantage of the power of the internet to promote access to the records they hold, and educate the public about their rights under the FOI Law,” the report said.

The information commissioner has made a number of recommendations which she has said should be implanted by the year-end. The office will then be conducting another review to ensure they have been carried out. If not she warned that she would use the law to take the necessary steps to see the improvements have been made.

See report and rankings of all government authorities below

Category: FOI

Comments (22)

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  1. truth says:

    The headline would be more correct if it just took off the last two words.  CIG.  Its where your money goes to die.

  2. MOE is Uneducated says:

    Example. Try finding out information for the new school year from Education department website. We are simple backward and pathetic!

  3. tim ridley says:

    One of the major problems with statutory authorities and government departments is that the staff (let alone senior management) rarely, if ever, look at their own websites and certainly not through the eyes of an outside user. Slightly tongue in cheek, why should they? After all they know the information themselves; sharing it with others is often an anathema!

    Another problem is that the two key requirements of timeliness and accuracy of information seem to be low on the priority list. Even on the part of those employed specifically to prepare and maintain the websites.

    These are but small  examples of the lack of responsiveness and accountability endemic in many parts of the bureaucracy here (and in many other countries). The term "public service" could scarcely be wider of the mark!

    Tim Ridley

  4. Anonymous says:

    When is any politician of any persuasion going to have the guts to fix the train wreck of a civil service we have in the Caymans? Sack the lot and start from scratch, I am sick and tired of my business paying enourmous fees to pay for the wages for a bunch of bludgers. Enough is enough! 

  5. Jab-Jab says:

    Wait, the problem is that they're not doing something they're not required to do? Methinks its the Commissioner who's wrong-footed on this one. If you want them to have an FOI website for each authority, make it a requriement/rule/law/whatever. Then you can complain. Actually then you can do more than complain. As it is this was just a whiny waste of money.

  6. truth says:

    This is what hapens when you hire with no respect for skill, experiance, work ethic, or competence.  Its the same way  when you vote.

    • anonymous says:

      Sounds like Cuba or Russia!  Iron Curtain? God help us!

    • anonymous says:


      Sorry to be the one to wake you up. But you're oversleeping.

      This is not about work ethics, skill or experience. Government has the best of the best working for them trust me on this one.

      Here's a new lesson for you to learn.

      THIS IS ALL ABOUT "CONTROL" and keeping information away from the people, keeping them in the DARK about everything!

      Where are you living?

      A dictatorship!

      • Anonymous says:

        Good one!

      • truth says:

         The rock you live unde must be heavy.  Or maybe I just overestimated the best of the best as being at least competent.  
        But this is Cayman.

  7. Nonnie Mouse says:

    First class costs for third class service.  Welcome to the Cayman civil service.

    Mac's greatest failing in office has been his complete lack of guts in taking on the civil service.  The one thing he could do to most help the government debt situation immediately he did not do. 

    We needed a 10-15% reduction in numbers, a 15% reduction in the wages of those who remain and a massive cut in benefits, especially the pension rights.

    • Anonymous says:

      well said….and the rest of the economy is being crippled by fees and taxes because mckeeva had not got the guts to do what was neseccary…i,e cut the over paid, underperforming, overstaffed, ineffecient civil service…..

  8. Anonymous says:

    You cant get on the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force website anymore either.  Very helpful!

    • Para Ann Springfield says:

      Not true, it is working fine. I've been on their website for the last two days doing research for a paper. Let's be fair now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    wait a minute ! i thought CIG civil servants spent all their time online because if you try to call any CIG department they don't answer the phone.

  10. Anonymous says:

    is this not Elio's claim to fame department?

  11. nauticalone says:

    "This is disapointing"….true! But surely it is not surprising!

    After all the CI Govt. cannot produce accounts for the money it spends….even though we brag of being "a leading financial centre".

    And the "Powers that be" want to "suspend the requirement to do so for the past seven years" as a solution. Go figure….

    And until those responsible are truly held "Accountable" there is not much chance of very much change.

  12. Anonymous says:

    the incompetence of civil servents is never ending and does not surprise me…..

    is this good governence mr taylor?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a surprise, the mickey mouse government not doing what it is supposed to be doing.  With more than half the gov employees doing nothing but collecting oversized cheques and doing everything in their power to provide lousy service, this type of news is expected.

  14. Anonymous says:

    How surprising, the Ministry of Financial Services, Tourism & Development has NO website and therefore received the lowest possible ranking.

  15. Anonymous says:

    These results say you don't need 90 authorities and that most of them are not really functioning nor does anyone care.

  16. Anonymous says: