Measures being undertaken to improve access to informationSaturday, December 22, 2018
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Access to Information (ATI) Unit will be undertaking some critical initiatives aimed at improving service delivery, compliance and reporting mechanisms for government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
Director at the Unit, Damian Cox, told JIS News that the entity will be introducing institutional report cards to measure how public authorities are performing in terms of providing access to information and the overall fulfilment of access to information rights.
He noted that the initiative will commence with a pilot in 10 public authorities, and is aimed at addressing some of the gaps that have been identified through the complaints and appeals processes.
“We are pushing for a baseline assessment of access to information knowledge of rights for next year, so we are going to be ramping up both our public education campaign and then measuring how many persons actually know about their rights, and how they can use access to information to empower themselves,” the Director informed.
He added that the Unit will be considering improved mechanisms to reach its clients more effectively though social media, its website and other electronic platforms.
“So, we are looking at how do we reach more Jamaicans in the ways in which it is convenient for them; how do we respond in terms of persons accessing information in a more mobile way and how do we engage our stakeholders in trying to make sure that information is provided to persons and access to information rights can be upheld in a manner that suits the user,” Cox noted further.
He pointed out that the Unit's intention is to transform its operations through improved, effective means that will see it delivering better service to both the general public and the public authorities.
“We are looking at what that next phase of access to information will look like as we move forward in improving compliance, making sure that public authorities are doing what they are supposed to do based on what the laws say, while fulfilling our mandate as a Unit and improving the services that we provide,” Cox asserted.
This ATI Unit is mandated to monitor the implementation and application of the Access to Information Act across all government entities as a means of promoting transparency, accountability and public participation in the national decision-making process.
The unit's primary functions include providing guidance and training for MDAs on how to interpret and administer the Act, identifying and addressing difficult or problematic issues arising from the Act's implementation, monitoring compliance with the Act's stipulation, and educating the public in respect of their rights and obligations under the legislation.
With the passage of the ATI Act in 2002 and its full implementation in 2004, the Government safeguarded the right of citizens and other members of the public to access official government documents, verify national decisions on matters of social and national interest and also matters that concern the finances of the country, health and environment.
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