A Comprehensive Framework for Access to Information Reform
Government Views on Legislative Reform
4. Administrative Reform
The Task Force stressed that the administrative practices and attitudes within government must be changed – from the way records are created and managed, to how public servants are trained, to the way government information is made available.
In his response to the Task Force report, the Information Commissioner supported many of the non-legislative proposals. The Commissioner agreed that public servants should be better educated about their access obligations and about information management in general , that information management be improved, and that the access function be better resourced and better supported within the public service.
Consistent with its commitment to the principles of transparency, openness and accountability, the Government is considering administrative reforms to improve the access regime. Administrative reforms do not require changes to the Act, but may be affected by any statutory changes that are made. Administrative measures could include initiatives related to fostering the culture of openness within the public service, encouraging compliance with the spirit of transparency, and the updating of the set of Treasury Board policies related to access to information.
Some of the key elements for each of these could be:
- Enhancing a public service culture of transparency by:
- providing specific training in information management and disclosure of information to executives and to the public service at large;
- incorporating an assessment of compliance with access to information requirements into managers' accountability contracts; and
- developing new proactive disclosure initiatives.
- Improve government compliance with the Act by:
- investing in tools for the access to information, privacy and information management/information technology communities; improving the capacity of the access to information community through a variety of training;
- taking steps to improve the stature of the access to information community, through new competency profiles and a review of classification levels;
- investing in improvements to information management to accelerate response to access requests by departments; and
- upgrading tools to assist institutions in processing access requests or to track timeliness and other performance aspects of policy compliance through government wide tracking of access requests.
Since each of these measures carries significant costs, the Government would welcome the views of the Committee concerning the priority which should be assigned to the various initiatives. If funding is not available for the complete administrative reform package, it would be helpful to know where the Committee believes the money would best be spent.
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