Premier Dunkley has announced that PATI (Public Access to Information) law will be operational by April, 2015. That’s 5 years after the law was passed, and 12 years after the topic was first introduced by then-Premier Alex Scott. Bermuda time, I guess. But this is very positive news.
Even better news is that the Premier today announced that another law will be expanded to include more information – at least financial – for a wider range of organisations funded by taxpayer money. This omission from PATI was highlighted during the public consultation by international FOIA/Right to Information watchdog Article 19. I hope that Government will take another look at the Article 19 consultation for other possible improvements to our PATI law.
PATI supposes that citizens must ask Government to share information. Our Government sits on a mountain of data and reports. Government really needs to outline its policies on open data, and ensure that useful information is proactively released in accessible formats (not just buggy PDF files buried in byzantine websites devoid of helper tools like API or even RSS feeds). It should not be left to the folks like http://bermuda.io/ to scratch this information together. Our public talent should go into analysing the data and building new tools from it, not exhausted on the task of grubbing it from Government’s dusty corners.