by Morinville News Staff

The Wildrose have released a new report to improve transparency and accountability in what they see as a “deteriorating and increasingly secretive” Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) process under the NDP government.

Fixing Alberta’s Broken FOIP System is the name of the report Wildrose Shadow Service Alberta Minister Scott Cyr and Wildrose Shadow Democracy & Accountability Minister Nathan Cooper released Tuesday.

The Wildrose say 95 per cent of FOIP requests were responded to in 60 days in 2012. That number dropped to 82 per cent in 60 days last year.

The party says a FOIP request to Justice under the previous government was returned in four months but nearly nine months under the NDP and then usually after being forced out by an order from the Privacy Commissioner.

The opposition party’s key recommendations include ending chronic delays due to signoff by instituting presumptive signoff; creating greater transparency through public reporting of FOIP response times by ministry in annual reports; and decentralizing the FOIP process by empowering ministries and ending Public Affairs Bureau, Service Alberta, and Alberta Justice interference. The Wildrose also recommend transitioning from a reactive disclosure system to an open data system.

“While in opposition, NDP MLAs decried the same principles that they now sign off on in government,” Cooper said. “Greater information sharing is in the best interests of all Albertans, and our FOIP system could drastically be improved by following these recommendations.”

Wildrose Shadow Service Alberta Minister Scott Cyr said holding the government to account is more difficult by the present FOIP process that rewards bureaucrats for obscuring information.

“It must be a wakeup call to the NDP government when government managers are more focused on “publicly sham[ing] the Wildrose” than doing their job,” Cyr said. “This attitude is unacceptable in a supposedly non-partisan public service.”

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