Thursday, May 21, 2009

Federal Access to Information Database Revived by Ottawa Law Prof

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist is trying to revive the CAIRS database that allowed researchers to track freedom of information requests made to Canadian federal government departments under the Access to Information Act.

The database was discontinued by the Conservative government.

As he reports in his blog, Prof. Geist is launching CAIRS.Info, a resource that will provide the same information that was contained in the original database and will be updated:
"The files include the wording of the original access to information request, date, department, file number and general information about whether the requester was with the media, business, academic or other. Once users have identified an access request that is of interest, they can ask the relevant government department for a copy of all disclosed records. Most departments will allow for an 'informal' request under which the records are disclosed at no cost (though the requester forfeits rights of appeal). Alternatively, a formal request for all records can be submitted to the department (a $5 fee is needed)."
Earlier Library Boy posts about CAIRS include:
  • Access to Information Database Updated to June 2005 (August 7, 2005): "Prof. Alasdair Roberts from Syracuse University has updated his Canadian access to information request database (...) According to Roberts, a former Queen's University scholar who has maintained the database since early 2002, this will be the last update. The page will not be maintained after August 31."
  • New Access to Information Database (April 15, 2006): "David McKie, an award-winning member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative reporting unit, has set up an access to information / freedom of information website that 'allows you to search a database of requests for information filed with departments and agencies of the Canadian government under Canada's Access to Information Act' (...) This website takes over from where Syracuse University professor Alasdair Roberts left off in August 2005."
  • Media Reports Government Wants to Can Access to Information Database (May 3, 2008): "The Toronto Star is reporting that the federal government is putting an end to the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS), an internal database of every request filed to all federal departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) ... CAIRS was seen by lawyers, reporters, and government watchdog groups as a very useful resource. They could mine the information in the database, approach government departments and request copies of already released documents."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:48 pm

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