Poor record keeping keeps public in dark

| 19/02/2019 | 8 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Cayman Islands Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston called out the Department of Labour and Pensions (DLP) for poor record keeping following a hearing over a disputed freedom of information request relating to pension records where civil servants claimed that communication about the issue in question was largely through word of mouth. Hermiston said the practice of government “conducting business verbally renders the internal decision-making process opaque, unaccountable” and contradicts the National Archive and Public Records Law.

In this case, an applicant had asked for access to records relating to amendments to a pension plan trust deed made in 2016 and 2017 of the Chamber Pension Plan, of which they were members. The applicant was initially refused everything by the DLP. But during the long FOI process the person was eventually given a large number of documents by the pension plan administrator, who is required under the National Pensions Law to provide certain information on plans.

However, a number of issues remained unsolved and therefore the matter went to a hearing. The Office of the Ombudsman made a number of recommendations and directions, including that all internal discussions on current or future amendments to pension plan trust deeds as well as the DLP’s other business and affairs be recorded fully and accurately.

“The amendment of a pension plan trust deed has the potential to have significant impact on the members of the plan. It is a complex process in which the department plays a key role in the review and approval of the requested amendments,” Hermiston stated in the decision paper as she “expressed concerns” regarding the record keeping practices.

The ombudsman found that some of the withheld communications between the DLP and their legal advisers were privileged and exempted under the freedom of information law. But the office said it did not cover the internal communications not already disclosed and told the department to release those records. Hermiston also directed the DLP to respond to the applicant’s request for records relating to investigations and court actions within 10 days.

The case illustrates the frustrations that many people continue to experience when making FOI requests. In this instance the applicant made their first records request on 24 October 2017, and after more than 15 months has still not received all of the documents that the law indicates the person is entitled to see.

See the full hearing on the Ombudsman’s website here.

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Category: Government oversight, Local News, Politics

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What about the PSPB too where they claim that they can’t find records for long standing Civil Servants?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Caymankind

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is the result of a lack of accountability. Someone senior at the DLP should be held accountable.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hey Sandy, anyone actually going to be accountable, or are more pay rises and promotions in store?

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course there will be no accountability. Her job is only to pull back the carpet, reveal the stinking heap of incompetence festering beneath, and then drop back in place.

      The politicians and the world class civil service then simply continue sweeping more excrement to its traditional position under the carpet.

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