The contract for the refurbishment of a Freedom of Information Office is out to tender, Attorney General Carl Bethel said.
His comments came days after he announced the office will be located at the former Eugene Dupuch Law School Library Building.
“It was anticipated that implementation of the [Freedom of Information Act] FOIA would be a two-year process beginning with the appointment of an information commissioner,” said Bethel at the Opening of the Legal Year.
“The Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs has begun preparatory steps towards the implementation of the FOIA and has identified the former Eugene Dupuch Law School Library Building as the site to house the Freedom of Information Office.”
There has been criticism on the lack of progress on the full enactment of FOIA. Organization for Responsible Governance raised concern that the delays could mean going into another election without the full enactment completed.
Last year, Bethel said he expected an information commissioner to be named by the end of 2019, but it has yet to happen. It remains unclear when the commissioner will be named.
However, Bethel assured that the government is committed to the matter.
“The government is fully committed to the implementation of the FOIA and has demonstrated this by providing a supplementary $3 million in financial support of the implementation process through component three of the government’s Digital Transformation to Strengthen Competitiveness program,” he said.
“The main purpose of component three is to increase transparency of government activities and strengthen auditing and control mechanisms.”
Bethel said the program will finance a number of initiatives, including: “developing and implementing a master plan for the roll out of the FOIA; providing technical support for the set-up and operation of the Office of the Information Commissioner; conducting training to information managers to enhance openness in public sector entities and enhancing inter-institutional co-ordination to effectively implement FOIA provisions.”
He said it also includes “strengthening the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs (OAG) by introducing cutting-edge technologies to support its functions, mainly: supporting the identification and mitigation of risks; and setting up a public expenditure observatory grounded on the application of big data tools and other technological innovations.”