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BC gov't takes 'step backwards' on information requests, report title hints

The Information and Privacy Commissioner's report card on the British Columbia government's responses to access to information requests won't be out until tomorrow, but it's already clear from the title what she found: "A Step Backwards."

Elizabeth Denham will release the report Tuesday morning, according to a media advisory from her office. It will look at timeliness of government responses, the percentage of requests that result in "no responsive records" responses and the government's issuance of fees estimates.

In recent years, Denham applauded the government's improvement on timeliness. "When my predecessor issued the first timeliness report in 2009, just 71 [per cent] of government's responses were on time," she wrote in a September 2011 report. "The following year, government's on-time performance jumped to 90 [per cent]. This year, government has done even better. I am pleased to report that government's on-time performance now stands at 93 [per cent]."

But in a March 2013 report, Denham criticized the frequency with which the government found no records to respond to a request. "In the past four years, the number of 'no responsive records' replies has increased from 13 [per cent] in 2008/09 to 25 [per cent] in 2011/12," she wrote.

The trend had no single explanation, she said, but one factor was "the high percentage of no records responses generated by the Office of the Premier... The dramatic increase in the Office of the Premier's percentage last year from 30 [per cent] to 45 [per cent] was the single biggest cause of the increase from fiscal 2010/11 to fiscal 2011/12."

Denham's report "A Step Backwards" is scheduled for release at 9:30 a.m.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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