FOI: The First Quarter

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Published 22nd April 2009, 4:42pm

With the implementation of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation and practices, the first quarter of 2009 saw the successful introduction of 'sunshine legislation' in the Cayman Islands. During the first three months, members of the public submitted 259 requests for information; the majority (163) received responses and the files were closed. Topics were diverse, ranging from the number of persons granted special marriage licences, to MLA salaries, and queries regarding pending legislation. Total figures for the quarter confirm that 67 persons received requested information in full; 23 requests were for information already in the public domain, and an additional three requests were deferred but will be granted when the information is available. In 24 cases the requested records did not exist, while 19 requests were granted in part, and 15 cases were exempted from the FOI requests received. Eight more queries were withdrawn by the applicants, and four were refused. Responses to the remaining 96 requests are still being processed by the respective government offices. During March alone, 87 new FOI requests for data were received from 33 different public authorities. In terms of public interest, the Immigration Department received the most queries, with ten requests submitted last month alone. The Health Services Authority received eight queries in March and the RCIPS seven. Other government offices handled five or fewer FOI requests. The ten-page March FOI implementation report details the requests made during the month and also provides an overview of the first quarter. During March, 62 of the quarter's request files were completed and closed. With the FOI Law mandating a 30-day deadline for responses, timeliness is critical. Of the 62 requests completed in March, 59 met the response deadline. The remaining three received legitimate extensions due to the need for consultation and clarification. FOI Coordinator Carole Excell expressed continuing satisfaction with the implementation. "Information managers have done a tremendous job in managing these detailed requests, in addition to their other work responsibilities. The quality and quantity of public queries has also been impressive, indicating an appreciation of this opportunity to look behind the scenes into the workings of government," she said. The first three monthly reports, including supporting charts and graphs, are on the FOI Unit's website. They also can be accessed through the official government portal. The reports detail the number of requests made to each public authority, as well as their outcomes. Each public authority also maintains an online disclosure log, in which requests of general public interest (and the decisions made) may be recorded. For more information about FOI in the Cayman Islands, visit, or visit the FOI Unit in Elizabethan Square, George Town. (GIS)