The following story was taken from Newspapers Canada. Congrats to Fred Vallance-Jones and his student team on this important project.
A total refusal to release contracts in Winnipeg, Quebec’s denial of basic accountability information about top officials’ spending, passenger manifests for Ontario’s executive aircraft, and the federal government’s stubborn refusal to release data in a useful form are just some of the findings of the Newspapers Canada sixth annual National Freedom of Information Audit, which tests the openness of governments across the country.
The 2011 audit is the largest in the history of the project, with 354 requests on 40 topics sent to all three levels of government as well as to crown corporations and hospitals. At each level of government there were several identical requests. Institutions were not told they were being audited. The audit grades institutions on the speed and completeness of their responses.
“Because many of the requests were identical, the audit offers a unique comparison of different FOI handling across the country,” said Newspapers Canada chief executive officer John Hinds. “The audit shines a light on uneven practices that are not in line with the spirit of the legislation.”
The project was led by Fred Vallance-Jones, assistant professor of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. A student audit team submitted and tracked the requests from January to May 2011.