Immigration says ‘sorry’ over FOI delays

| 11/05/2018 | 14 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Department of Immigration said it is working hard to address the delays people are experiencing in responses to their freedom of information (FOI) requests. Retirements and staff shortages, among other issues, are behind the delays, according to officials from the department that still receives the most FOI requests of all government agencies. Ministry officials said they have come up with a plan “to mitigate the situation, by assigning two additional staff members from the ministry to the FOI team who have extensive knowledge of the protocols and processes”.

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith said that over the last 12 months the DOI has received 65 FOI requests and 52 have now been addressed. Of the 13 still to be finalised, only seven are currently overdue and the department is actively working to complete them to ensure openness, transparency and accountability under the law.

“Requests under the Freedom of Information Law are one of our competing priorities and we shall not settle for what is satisfactory but strive to raise the standards in which this is managed,” he said.

The delays were said to be due to recent staff shortages caused by illness, early retirement of key personnel and the time it takes to train the necessary staff, as well as a new FOI manager and records officers. The officials did not say if the number of suspended immigration officers who have cases before the court is also impacting the staffing problems at one of government’s busiest and most crucial departments.

As well as receiving the most requests, the immigration department is also dealing with requests that deal with personal data that has to be protected and so the process can be more complex than for other public authorities.

In order to tackle the problem, the expanded FOI team is now working closely with the Office of the Ombudsman on all of the outstanding  requests to process them efficiently. Taking on the advice that the ombudsman recently gave to the ministry of finance, Wesley Howell, Chief Officer for the Ministry of Human Resources and Immigration, offered an apology.

“I join the acting CIO in apologising for the FOI delays, and I am confident that the team we have assembled will soon get the DOI’s FOI team to the point where we are responding to FOI requests in a timely and high quality manner,” Howell said.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Would somebody go around to Jennifer Ahearn’s house to see if she is there and ask her why nothing effective is being done about these public health concerns.

    Also, ask whether she has a voice and can at least say something. If you can’t find her they please put her picture on a milk carton next to Roydell.

    Why don’t I do it? I work for Franz.

    • Jotnar says:

      You are posting on the wrong thread – since when do FOI requests to Immigration have anything to do with Health or Ms Ahern?

      • Anonymous says:

        when there is any article or comment on this site about CIG it all amounts to one long and continuos thread: negativity and accusations/allegations of wrongdoing.

        Therefore one can post on any thread as it all amounts to the same thing!

        Get it now, Jonah?


  2. Anonymous says:

    Please share with us your track record of perfection… The truth is, however, that you’re most likely a non-essential part of your organisation, if even employed; one who is relegated to posting negative, divisive, and unhelpful comments online – all of which are subconscious attempts to deflect from your inadequacy as a human being.

  3. Love says:

    Honestly I can’t complain I’ve been licensing (WB) very fast ,immigration for WPR 20minutes then to get stamp 5 minutes same week to visa office waited about 8 minutes / police record 15 minutes people need to understand it depends how much people are there before you doing the same thing you are there to do so the lady that saying 59 people before her what falt of The staff is that maybe you should wake up earlier next time and make the waiting like outside like everybody else

    • Cess Pita says:

      Love you must be,or be in love with, a civil servant. Do you have any idea how many people visit Immigration and the DVDL in George Town every day?. The buildings, like the airport were constructed to deal with far less numbers than we have now, but this in no way excuses the absent staff.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a refreshing change. The leadership of the Deputy Governor is trickling down the civil service. Manderson aplogizied for the failing of garbage collection and now one of his Chief Officers is doing the same.

    The civil service is not perfect and they are still too many long lines at some government departments. But I’m seeing a real change in attitudes and a willingness to accept when you are wrong and make the changes that are necessary!!

    Thank you CIG for making a difference. Now let’s all say a prayer for cess pita!! It’s badly needed. Come on pitta get off of your throne and take part in the 5k. It’s life changing!!

  5. Cess Pita says:

    What about customer delays?. I went to Immigration yesterday afternoon, but security would not let me and 3 others in, because the waiting hall was full. When I did get in, my number in the “documents” category showed there were 59 people ahead of me and worse, a lady at the counter under a number in my category was there for 15 minutes without her transaction being completed.Security told me they opened at 8.30am but the queue started long before 7.00am. I checked the additional windows down the “corridor” and out of a total of 12 windows only 5 were manned. Vehicle Licencing is just as bad.
    These offices are in the front line providing essential services to the public, so why is it that Mr Manderson with his thousands upon thousand of civil servants is unable to find just 18 of them to provide these essential functions.He needs to prioritise his responsibilities as immigration and vehicle licencing are far more important than 5K runs

  6. Anonymous says:

    BS. This is the same department that in the past has taken 11 months (I speak from personal experience!) to process a simple WP renewal.

    • Anonymous says:

      No accountability. No consequences. An absolute disaster. Who is the minister responsible? What does he or she have to say?

  7. RICK says:

    A plot to delay PR and Status is most likely the real reason behind this .

  8. Anonymous says:

    another day…another civil service mess-up

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