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Title: Freedom of Information Act of Trinidad and Tobago : Implications for libraries and information professionals
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Title: Freedom of Information Act of Trinidad and Tobago : Implications for libraries and information professionals
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Nero, Lorraine
Publisher: Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries,
Publication Date: 2006
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Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Trinidad and Tobago -- Caribbean
Caribbean
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Holding Location: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Resumen
        Page i
        Page ii
    Main
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Bibliography
        Page 13
Full Text






I infimited

traducciones vertalingen tradukshon tradu 0es traductions 'Oersetzungen


Ley de Libertad de Informaci6n y del Profesional de la Informaci6n en
Trinidad y Tobago


Presentada por







Presentada por


Lorraine M. Nero
Bibliotecaria II, Cataloguing Unit
Main Library, the University of West Indies
St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Correo electr6nico: Inero@library.uwi.tt
Tel.: (868)-662-2002 EXT. 2476
Fax: (868)-662-9238

Dra. Lillibeth Ackbarali
Especialista en Manejo de Documentos
Ministerio de Administraci6n e Informaci6n Piblicas
Division de Servicios Estratigicos
Correo electrdnico: ackbaralil@pai.gov.tt
Tel.: (868)-627-6313 EXT. 2176


La Ley de Libertad de Informaci6n de Trinidad y Tobago (FOIA, por sus siglas en ingles) fue
aprobada en 1999 y entr6 en vigor en 2001. La ley por definici6n extiende el derecho del piblico
a tener acceso a informaci6n en posesi6n de las autoridades piblicas dentro de un marco de
tiempo especifico, asi como la posibilidad de un recurso ante denegaci6n desautorizada.

El prop6sito de esta ponencia es el de explorer la implementaci6n de los tdrminos de la Ley de
Libertad de Informaci6n en Trinidad y Tobago (FOIA), especificamente el papel que los
profesionales desempefian en la ejecuci6n de la ley y los retos que enfrentan.

Los datos primordiales para la ponencia fueron recabados a travis de la realizaci6n de entrevistas
no estructuradas con dos series de profesionales de la informaci6n: los profesionales de
instituciones done la ley ha sido implementada y quienes desempefian un rol active en la
organizaci6n y emisi6n de informaci6n; el segundo grupo de profesionales fue torado de
instituciones donde la ley ha sido o va a ser implementada, pero profesionales cuyo rol es
marginal. Para determinar la poblaci6n, se us6 la lista que contiene los nombres de autoridades
piblicas que deben hacer que sus documents sean accesibles para las pesonas.

Algunos de los retos destacados incluyen la capacitaci6n de personal, manejo de averiguaciones
y exenciones; respuestas oportunas a solicitudes y manejo de abuso del piblico. Las experiencias
de los profesionales de la informaci6n en Trinidad y Tobago documentadas en esta ponencia
podrian servir para asistir a otras bibliotecas regionales en el process de preparar la
implementaci6n de la FOIA en sus paises respectivos.





John g. Emanstraat 110, Oranjestad, Aru6a, W.I. Phone: (297) 588-2842 Faxu (297)588-4678
E-maidi unfimitedtranslations@hotmaiccom


Resumen









La loi sur la liberty d'information et les professionnels de I'information a Trinidad
et Tobago

Introduction par : Lorraine M.Nero
Biblioth6caire II, service des fichiers
Bibliotheque central, Universite des Indes Occidentales
Saint Augustine, Trinidad et Tobago
Courriel: Iner1 @library.Uwi.tt
T66 : (868) 662-2002 Ext 2476
T616ecopieur: (868) 662-9238

Introduction par : Lillibeth Ackbarali,
Specialiste en gestion documentaire
Ministere Public de l'information
Secteur des services strat6giques
Courriel : ackbarali@paij..goYv.tt
Tel6 : (868) 627-6313 Ext 2176

R6sume

La loi sur la liberty d'information de Trinidad et Tobago (FOIA) a te6 ratifi6 en 1999 et
decrt&6 en 2001. La loi par definition tend le droit des membres du public A l'acc6s de
l'information sous le contr6le des pouvoirs publics dans un cadre particulier ainsi qu'au
recours pour d6menti official.

Le but de cette 6tude est d'examiner l'application des dispositions de la loi de liberty
d'information A Trinidad et Tobago (FOIA) sp6cifiquement le rl1e que les professionnels
de l'information jouent dans l'ex6cution de la loi et les d6fis qu'ils peuvent rencontrer.
Les premieres donnees de cette 6tude ont 6t6 recueillies en dirigeant des interviews
informelles avec 2 group de professionnels de l'information : le premier par des
professionnels d'6tablissements ofi la loi a 6t6 applique et qui joue un role actif dans
l'organisation et le coit de l'information ; le deuxi6me group de professionnels ont 6t6
soustrait d'6tablissements oiu la loi a dO ou doit etre mis en application mais leur role est
Limit6.La population 6tait determine en employant la liste quoi contenait les noms des
autorit6s publiques lesquelles devait rendre leurs 6crits accessible au public. Certain de
ces d6fis soulignent la formation du personnel, traitement de questions et derogations;
r6ponses dans les dl6ais aux demands et traiter l'abus public. Les experiences des
professionnels de l'information A Trinidad et Tobago ont documents dans cette etude
devrait seconder d'autres biblioth6ques r6gionales en organisant 1' application de la
FOIA's dasn leur pays respectifs.











The Freedom of Information Act of Trinidad and Tobago Implications for
Libraries and Information Professionals


Lorraine Nero. Librarian II, University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad
and Tobago.

Dr Lillibeth S.V. Ackbarali. Document Management Specialist, Ministry of Public
Administration and Information Strategic Services Division, Government of the
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Abstract

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 1999 (as amended) of Trinidad and Tobago
was assented to in 1999 and came into effect in 2001. The Act by definition extends the
right of members of the public to access information in the possession of public
authorities within a specific time frame and provides recourse for unsanctioned denial.

The purpose of this paper is to present the essential elements of the FOIA, describe the
T&T experience in implementing the Act, and more specifically, to identify the
implications of the FOIA for the Library and Information Professional.

Challenges encountered and challenges for the profession are identified. These
highlighted challenges include continuing education and staff training to process queries
and exemptions; timely responses to requests; managing public abuse; interpretation of
aspects of the Act; relevance of the Act to libraries and information centers; existing
culture and mindset; and the lack of document and records management expertise. The
experiences of information professionals in Trinidad and Tobago documented in this
paper should assist other information institutions in preparing for the implementation of
FOIA's in their respective countries.

Methodoloav
Primary data for the paper was gathered by conducting unstructured interviews with two
sets of information professionals as well as personnel involved in implementing and
monitoring the Act. Persons included library and information professionals at institutions
that have implemented the Act and who perform an active role in the organization and
dissemination of information; library and information professionals at institutions where
the Act has been or will be implemented, but whose roles are marginal; policy analysts
and legal personnel at the Ministry of Public Administration and Information the
Government Ministry with responsibility for monitoring the Act who were instrumental in
implementing and monitoring the Act.

Keywords: Freedom of Information Act; Trinidad and Tobago; Libraries; Information
Access.












Introduction


International Context

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees
the right of individuals to freedom of information. There are various facets to this
fundamental right which includes the freedom of access to information and the
free dissemination of information. National legislation which supports this right
has been in existence in countries, such as Sweden, for many years. In the past
decade, there has been a renewal of initiatives to promote transparency in both
the public and private sectors through the implementation of Freedom of
Information Acts (FOIA) in over 50 countries worldwide. A number of Latin
America and Caribbean nation states have implemented these Acts. In Latin
America, Belize, Columbia, Mexico and Panama have implemented FOIAs. In
the Caribbean, FOIAs have come into force in Jamaica, The Bahamas and in
Trinidad and Tobago. Other Caribbean states are at varying stages in the
preparation of national legislation.


The Trinidad and Tobaqo Context

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago initially conceptualized
the Freedom of Information Act as a tool which would allow for all information to
be made.available to the public. This tool was to allow for openness and
transparency, which are considered prerequisites for good governance and
democracy. The strategic intent in developing the Act was the recognition that all
development activities will not be sustainable unless we practice good
governance and provide access to information. The FOIA basically enshrines the
right of individuals to know what is happening in government and to general
information that is available.

The objective of the Trinidad and Tobago FOIA as outlined in the first ministerial
report delivered to the Parliament in 2004 is to "enhance governance through
increased transparency and accountability, and to facilitate increased public
participation in the development of national policy.1"

The Government subcommittee on Vision 2020 noted that the organizational
culture of the Public Service is characterized by the tendency to operate in
information silos. Indeed, the hoarding of information is symptomatic of a
protective culture with a mindset to non-disclosure. Indeed, there was a practice
to be changed and the Act was intended to support more information in the public
domain, thereby placing lesser reliance on the Act itself.


'Government of Trinidad and Tobago (Ministry of Public Administration and Information). The Freedom
of Information Act, 1999 Report to Parliament 2001-2003. www.foia.gov.tt (accessed in May 2006).












In 1998, the Attorney General's office was given the responsibility for drafting FOI
legislation for Trinidad and Tobago. The FOIA of Trinidad and Tobago was
assented to on November 4th, 1999 and came into effect in February 2001. The
Act by definition, extends the right of members of the public to access information
in the possession of public authorities within a specific time frame as well as
recourse for unsanctioned denial.

The paper examines the processes that make access to documents possible,
and the responsibility for which, in some authorities, falls under the purview of the
Librarian/Information Professional. The FOIA forces the profession to ask: Are
our librarians equipped to handle the requirements of the FOIA? What guidelines
are given to Librarians/Information professionals and library staff with regards to
document access? Is there room for subjectivity in interpretation of the Act? What
provisions) are there to protect library staff from possible ensuing abuse? The
Trinidad and Tobago experience would serve as a guide to other countries in the
region that are engaging in the process of preparing FOIA legislation.

The FOI Act
Rights of the Act
The Act, written in the tradition of other FOIA legislation around the world, gives
the public the right to:
Request access to documents held by public authorities
Request correction of personal information held in files of public
authorities, and
Seek review through an Ombudsman and application for judicial
reviews if request for the above mentioned are denied.

It also provides general guidelines on:
Time-limit for determining requests (30 calendar days)
Categories of exempted information
Fees for access to documents
Forms of access
Cases for refusal
Reasons to be given for deferment or refusal.

"Document" as defined in the Act refers to:
"information recorded in any form, whether printed or on tape or film or by
electronic means or otherwise and includes any map, diagram,
photograph, film, microfilm, video-tape, sound recording, or machine-
readable record or any record which is capable of being produced from a
machine-readable record by means of equipment or a programme (or a
combination of both) which is used for that purpose by the public authority
which holds the record."












"Official document" as defined in the Act refers to:
"a document held by a public authority in connection with its functions as
such, whether or not it was created by that authority, and whether or not it
was created before the commencement of this Act and, for the purposes
of this definition, a document is held by a public authority if it is in its
possession, custody or power."

Public Statements
Approximately 160 Public Authorities are listed on the FOI website. This list is not
exhaustive and also does not represent all Public Authorities. The Act stipulates
that Public Authorities must make the public aware of available documents
through the annual publication of Public Statements. To date, twenty-three (23)
Public Statements are available for perusal on the FOI website. Public Authorities
must publish updates to existing Statements, once new documents have been
added or if other changes have occurred which affect other information in the
Public Statement.

Public Authorities are required by law to incorporate the following information in
their Public Statements:

Function and structure of the Ministry/Authority
Effects of functions on members
Categories of documents in the possession of the public authority
Literature available by subscription
How to request information
Library Reading Room facilities
Operational Documents

Exemptions to the FOIA
Public Authorities may apply for an Order of Exemption from the Act in
accordance with Section 5 (1) (c) of the Freedom of Information Act, 1999. A
number of institutions have received Orders of Exemption by the President.
These exemptions have been granted, despite the Government of the Republic
of Trinidad and Tobago having holdings interest in these institutions, which
includes banks, financial organizations and business companies.

Non- Disclosure Documents
Categories of documents are also exempted from disclosure. While the Act
provides more detailed information, some broad areas include:

Cabinet Minutes and Notes
* Defence and security documents
International relations documents
Internal working documents
Law enforcement documents











Documents affecting legal proceedings or subject to legal professional
privilege
Documents affecting personal privacy
Documents relating to trade secrets
Documents containing material obtained in confidence
Documents affecting the economy, commercial affairs and certain
documents concerning operations of public authorities
Documents to which secrecy provisions apply
Disclosure of exempt document in the public interest.

Designated Officer
The Act requires that each public authority name a designated officer responsible
for certain aspects of the Act within that department. Several Librarians have
been named either as the Designated Officer or the Alternate Designated Officer
for the Act. Librarians who have been given that designation in their institutions
have also been given the responsibility to organize materials for retrieval, write
detailed documented processes and procedures for accessing materials and
attend to time-sensitive requests in an efficient manner. Librarians who have
been designated alternate FOIA officers, more often than not, work closely with
Corporate Secretaries, or corporate attorneys with responsibility for the Act, in
their capacity as FOIA Designated Officer.

Despite these guidelines, however, institutions are responsible for working out
the details of internal management of the Act and implementation procedures.

Administration and Monitoring of the Act
A Freedom of Information Unit (FOIU) was set up in May 2001, in the Ministry of
Public Administration and Information, to assist with public awareness, education
and monitoring of the Act. This Unit performed the functions of:
Sensitizing and providing guidance to the public on the Act
Providing support and guidance to Public Authorities on the
operations of the Act
Vetting Public Statements of Public Authorities before those
Statements are published in the press
Compiling statistics and annual reports on the FOIA for submission
to the Cabinet by the Ministry of Public Administration and
Information.

The FOIU during its existence led a campaign to educate the public about the Act
through different media, group meetings and a FOI website. These information
dissemination mechanisms were to ensure that the public was adequately
informed to make greater use of the Act in the future.

Currently, the Unit is no longer in operation. Aspects of implementation and
monitoring are carried out by one officer of the Public Service Transformation
Division (PSTD) and one officer from the Legal Services Division, of the Ministry
of Public Administration and Information.












Thus far, statistics compiled from the two ministerial reports laid in Parliament
indicate that there have been 1725 requests for document access for the period
2001-20042:


Table 1: Number of requests received 2001-2004

YEAR REQUEST RECEIVED
Feb 2001- Feb 2002 81
Feb 2002- Feb2003 371
Feb 2003- Dec 2003 71
Jan2004-Dec 2004 1202
Total 1725


To date, the Service Commissions Department (SCD) is the public authority
which has received a majority of information requests under the umbrella of the
FOIA. This Department is responsible for the recruitment and placement of staff
in the public service of Trinidad and Tobago. It has consistently received above
50-percent of the requests for information annually, with 2004 showing the year
in which the largest number of requests were received, that is, 77 percent or 926
out of a total of 1202 requests. The nature of the requests being made to this
Department is not readily available for public access. One can only infer that the
popularity of requests being made to this Department, may be linked to the need
to clarify recruitment practices in the public service; the need to access
examination results; or perhaps the need to access merit lists.


Table 2: Number of requests received by the
Service Commissions Department 2001-2004

YEAR NO. OF REQUEST % OF THE TOTAL
RECEIVED REQUESTS
Feb 2001-Feb 2002 43 53%
Feb 2002- Feb2003 198 53%
Feb 2003- Dec 2003 46 65%
Jan2004-Dec 2004 926 77%


2 The two documents are available on the FOIA website. www.foia.gov.tt: 1.The Freedom of Information
Act, 1999: Report to Parliament 2001-2003 and The Freedom of Information Act, 1999: Annual Report
2004.












Libraries and the FOIA
In support of best practices worldwide, the library community has accepted the
core principle of freedom of information and its concomitant values and has
welcomed the introduction of the FOIA. The Library Association of Trinidad and
Tobago (LATT) hosted personnel from the FOI Unit at its Ordinary General
Meeting of July 20, 2004, to educate its membership about the Act and to
discuss its implications for the library fraternity. The FOI Unit team has also
partnered with the National Library and Information System Authority (NALIS)
and has traveled to several branch libraries throughout the country to present
public workshops. Additionally, the FOI Unit continued to support and provide the
much needed clarification of clauses in the Act to special librarians, faced with
specific interpretation, time-sensitive and compliance issues.

The Library Association, in a country that is adopting a FOIA has a critical role to
play in the areas of:
1. Advocacy: Lobby for continuing education opportunities and creation of
a career path for Document and Records Management specialists.
2. Archives: Re-visit the role and function of the archives vis-A-vis
document classification & retention and disposition schedules.
- 3. Establishment of a Government Document Centre.
4. Support for members who are aggrieved.
5. Public education for understanding and utilization of the Act.

Implications for Libraries and Information Centers
Libraries and information institutions represent valuable information
infrastructures that are poised to provide access to and disseminate information
on how to use the FOIA. There is a large body of literature to be accessed and
understood regarding the legal and operational aspects of the Act. Libraries are
already repositories of vast quantities of public information and can now expect
to disseminate public information at a different level.

The current version of the FOIA does not directly or clearly address the issue of
the protection of personal privacy with respect to personal records. The
profession must be vigilant about amendments to the current FOIA as they relate
to the protection of personal privacy. Very soon steps will be taken to address the
latter. This legislation is expected to supersede current FOI legislation.
Librarians and information access professionals will be well-advised to study the
USA Patriot Act, the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Personal
Privacy Act (FIPPA) and other related legislation, which can inform a response to
and an understanding of the personal privacy issues as they relate to access to
patron records and profiles.

The administration and management of libraries and information institutions must
address the following concerns if they are to continue to effectively serve their
clienteles:












* The provision of detailed documentation of policies, procedures and
processes to ensure organizational transparency and accountability.

Determine the locus of responsibility for the FOI Designated Officer
and the Alternate Designated Officer in various library and
information environments.

The legal, financial and human costs of non-compliance.

Continuing Education and training in records, information and
document management. The FOIA not only regulates Public
Authorities and to some degree the broad categories of documents
which are accessible to the public, but operates on the assumption
that institutions have proper systems of records and document
management, document retrieval and reading rooms in essence, a
well-functioning library, records, documentation or information center.
Indeed, records management is akin to library science, and the
information science profession is aware of the differences. However,
librarians who in the course of their duties are responsible for
implementing the Act, must lobby for continuing education
opportunities to meet the required competency. In the information-
based society of transparency and accountability, access to
information and the right to know, personal privacy and regulatory
environments with severe penalties for non-compliance, institutions
must make an investment in establishing compliant document and
records systems, provide adequate training in and recruit records and
document managers and embark on continuing education
programmes for designated staff.

Within the Caribbean, the University of the West Indies, Department
of Library and Information Science, Mona, Jamaica has been offering
a Certificate in Records Management as part of its summer
programme. The programme is delivered online with some face to
face sessions. In Trinidad and Tobago, the Associate Degree in
Library Studies programme, offered by COSTAATT offers a module
in Records Management. Caribbean Library Associations can also
facilitate Electronic Document and Records Management training by
offering workshops and/or developing discussion fora to sensitize
information professionals to operational processes involved in
documenting required policies, procedures and processes.

In Trinidad and Tobago, and based on the GORTT's mandate, the
FOI Unit has conducted a number of awareness programmes
throughout the islands targeting the general public and Public
Authorities. Training included:












Implications for non-compliance
Availability of information/documents for public access
Non-availability of information/documents that are exempt from
public access
Principles of good customer service
Departmental policies, procedures and documented processes
Lines of defense and redress
Location and filing system for documents
Differentiating access to electronic and/or paper formats of
records
*Guidelines for staff on the do's and don't's of "interpreting"
information in documents for the public.

Of the categories listed above, an institutionalized FOI Unit can assist
mainly with the first two needs. Public Authorities will very likely be
required to invest human, financial and other resources to ensure
that supporting needs are met. Mechanisms which have worked in
different institutions include formal and informal discussion groups, e-
groups, newsletters, brochures and corporate intranets.

National skills assessment analysis
Librarians in countries that are contemplating the introduction of an
FOIA should, at their earliest convenience, seize the opportunity to
engage in a national skills assessment exercise to determine the
availability of records managers, documentalists and information
access officers and the requisite skills set. The preparation and
presentation of such a document to governing bodies can ensure that
adequate budgetary allocations are made for training. Kangalee
(1994) conducted a comparative survey of records management in
Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica3. One of the long term objectives
of the research was a needs assessment analysis. The situation in
Trinidad and Tobago as highlighted by Kangalee revealed that
although posts for registrars and records managers exist, many
remain vacant because it is difficult to attract persons to these posts.
Kangalee recommended that an examination of the remuneration
and career path for Records Managers should be explored as
mechanisms to fill vacancies and manage the domino effect created
by these gaps in specialized personnel. Currently, there has been
little or no attempt made to close the existing gaps. In fact, various
training plans and needs assessment analyses at the governmental
level have identified document and records management training as


3 Kangalee, Caroline M. L. Records Management in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica: A Comparative
Survey and Analysis of Current Practices in Ministries. 1994. Diss. University of the West Indies.












a major priority for e-government readiness for the new information
environment.

Document Management
The Act stipulates some standard documents which institutions
should make available. This means that the nature of documents for
public access will be similar across institutions. Therefore,
consideration must be given to revising local standard/filing systems
as well as the adoption of this standard by all national agencies and
managed by the National Archives or the Government Document
Centre. The Kangalee study also. indicated that general
documentation for managing records in institutions exists and the
Registry has created and maintains a filing system. Currently, each
public authority has deviated from the system and new units have
created their own systems, resulting in the evolution of multiple filing
systems.

Standardization
Public Authorities, via their Public Statements, are required to provide
very clear categories of documents held by the institution and
subscription information. This is another requirement which can be
standardized, since the items to be published will be similar. In the
United Kingdom where the FOIA came fully into force in January
2005, initiatives are already afoot to standardize the publication
scheme. The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) website
introduces managers to the implications of the Act for their
institutions, providing an action plan, competencies framework, a
glossary of terminology, a list of sources of guidance, and a model
records management policy among other elements."4 The JISC site
also provides a prototype of a "Freedom of Information Publication
Scheme" which has been adopted by several institutions in the UK.
The scheme is divided into broad areas of conduct of business,
internal management, funding and charging and information and
advice. It can also be used to expand the government filing system
for documents across institutions.

Collection analysis for the optimization of business processes
As a preparatory step, organizations should engage in a gap analysis
of their collection. The gap analysis is a collection assessment and
will identify current holdings, duplicates, missing information and the
presence of third party information. The analysis could inform the
content in Public Statements and reduce the number of cases of
denied access on the basis of non-existence of a document. In


4Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) www.jisc.ac.uk












reports documenting requests made under the FOIA and prepared by
the Ministry of Public Administration and Information, instances of
refusal on the basis that "documents do not exist or cannot be found"
have been documented. This is the second most common reason
used for refusal to access information since the FOIA has been
implemented. Implicit in all of this is the outcome that the required
outputs as mandated by the FOI legislation, and facilitated by the gap
analysis, can only improve the business processes of the
organization.

Challenges
The information access professional is faced with a number of challenges.

1. One such challenge is the ability to access information in various document
formats. Public authorities therefore must ensure that the relevant media to
access non-book material are available to users as long as the information
resides in a particular electronic format. The need to retain documents in various
formats will require investments in media acquisition and maintenance, the
creation of digital repositories and cooperative initiatives to digitize and archive
documents. Closer attention must also be paid to the migration of data from
different formats as standards change.

2. Any organization preparing to implement and comply with a FOIA must
identify expected outputs (eg. what results can be expected within a specific time
period) and service metrics (eg. the number of requests that can be completed
in a specific time period and the time it takes to process a request) and prepare
the relevant structure to support it.

3. Inconsistency in processing requests if proper guidelines are not documented
and made available to staff.

4. A shift in organizational culture will be necessary if an institution will now be
required to view records as evidence of corporate performance versus private
holdings. A culture of information sharing and not information silos must be
nurtured.

5. In Trinidad and Tobago, documents have been destroyed overtime in order to
create storage space for other documents. Implementation of FOI legislation will
require the creation and adoption of proper records retention and disposition
schedules for paper and electronic records which will impact positively on the
availability of storage space.

6. The nature of inter-office communication has changed with the consequent
effect that data is now born digital and stored on servers or individual machines.
Internal digital records policies and guidelines on the management and storage












of electronic documents must be formulated to capture essential material
including email documents. To this end, several institutions have embarked on
acquiring document management systems to facilitate archival management of
electronic documents. Published Public Statements have not identified the
formats in which documents may be accessed. A recommendation is made here
for Public Statements to include the identification of formats in which materials
may be accessed.

7. Denial of access to information or negotiating a request for access to
information may lead to abusive behaviour by a patron having a negative effect
on the information provider. Such situations point to the need for a professional
Code of Ethics and mechanisms for redress for the information professional.

Conclusion
Historically, libraries have championed the cause for freedom of expression, the
right to know and access to information/documents. Legislation which threatens
or hampers these core values, place information professionals, particularly
access to information administrators and practitioners in a tenuous position.
Professionals will be required to balance and juggle the multiple issues of access
rights, the principles of freedom of information, privacy issues and executing
legislation. The implementation of the FOIA has presented the library and
information community with the opportunity to shape the information access
policies, procedures and processes of our institutions and to ensure the public's
right to know.

Librarians will be on the frontline of FOI legislation, either in drafting procedures,
educating or serving the public, or re-directing queries to relevant bodies. The
onus will be on the information professional to equip herself through education
and re-training to deliver on compliance with the Act and on the information rights
of the user. Indeed the nature of the legislation is such that differences in
interpretation and outcomes of the same, can lead to dissatisfied and
confrontational patrons. Librarians have already been involved in litigation
proceedings to challenge "refusals" and have also been named in judicial review
proceedings. The Library Association has to be clear on its role and how it
proposes to treat with representations on behalf of its information professionals
who may be aggrieved in such situations. More importantly, the fraternity must
decide whether it is going to be passive onlookers of the implications of the Act
or adopt a stronger advocacy role in monitoring and implementing FOI
legislation.












Bibliography


American Library Association. Intellectual Freedom Manual. 6m ed. Chicago:
American Library Association, 2002.

Banisar, David. 2004. The Freedomofinfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of
Information and Access to Government Records Around the World.
www.freedominfo.org. (accessed May 2006).

Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Ministry of Public
Administration and Information). www.foia.gov.tt. (accessed May 2006).

Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). www.jisc.ac.uk. (accessed May
2006).

Kangalee, Caroline M.L. Records Management in Trinidad and Tobago and
Jamaica: A Comparative Survey and Analysis of Current Practices in Ministries.
Diss. University of the West Indies. 1994.

McDonald, Andrew. Open Government: Freedom of Information and Privacy.
eds. Andrew McDonald and Greg Terrill. London: Macmillan Press, 1998.

Riley, Tom and Rhyea, Harold C. Freedom of Information Trends in the
Information Age. London: Frank Cass, 1983.

Taylor, Liz. Freedom of Information:Working Towards Compliance. Oxford:
Chandos Pub., 2004.


Interviews

The following persons were interviewed in May 2006 and provided information
and clarification on the FOIA:

Analisa Sankar, former Legal Officer, Ministry of Public Administration and
Information (MPAI), FOI Unit and currently, Legal Officer, MPAI Legal Unit.

John Gillette, former Policy Analyst, MPAI Information and Communications
Technology Division (ICT) Division.

Paula Edwards, former Senior Policy Analyst, MPAI FOI Unit, and currently,
Senior Policy Analyst, MPAI Public Service Transformation Division (PSTD).




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