Wednesday, June 17, 2009


There is one way to beat the paper trail - eliminate the paper!

It appears that all that promised transparency and accountability has caused the Provincial Government no end of embarrassment. Annoying FOI requests for e-mail, briefing notes, and communication plans are messing with the government's agenda and creating too much negativism. The solution, reduce the paper, do not send e-mails, and no more briefing notes on controversial files. I can only imagine the surprise that greeted the editors of the Telegram when a routine request for briefing notes from Joan Burke's new department turned up a new policy - verbal briefings.

A while back I questioned the increasing use of MS/PIN text messages and ubiquitous Blackberry PIN (Personal Identification Number) messages by senior government types. They were under the impression that SMS and PIN messages never pass through your email systems and therefore will not be archived by your email archiving solution. Users assumed that PIN messages are secure and untraceable. Neither is necessarily the case, but if your employer is not archiving the messages you can be assured they will not come back to haunt you. Staff were told to communicate via the unique eight-digit number and not use the government's e-mail system. This was the electronic version of the verbal briefing.

The Telegram's
editorial today nails the new approach for what it really is, a carefully thought out way to circumvent freedom of information rules.

The new rule, play cat and mouse and find ways not to be transparent. After all the government is only accountable to the voters, right, and we know they are happy.


Anonymous said...

Pete your a little late with this one, the real politcal bloggers have been all over this.

Anonymous said...

the editorial is from today's edition of the paper so this is a timely discussion.

"The practice of hypocrisy is not merely indispensable to government, but is capable of being sustained without much difficulty for as long as may be required."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli

Bren D

Peter L. Whittle said...

It is an obvious attempt to work around the the FOI laws.

Information is the raw material of news. Freedom of information and freedom of the press are two freedoms hewn from the same stone. To impede one is to frustrate the other.

How ironic that secret rules are being applied to legislation that is meant to counter secrecy!

Anonymous said...

How can government do its job when all of ts deliberations are second guessed by a bunch of journalists that are looking for the poison pill? Take Randy Simms, a day to celebrate turns into a day of negative pessimism because he wanted to generate a few calls.

His type are always looking for the dirt or a silver bullet because they can not stand the fact that Danny Williams is so popular and has delivered so much. He proves that it is next to impossible to be a messiah in your own land.

This crowd wants information on travel just see if they can find a movie that was rented a claims inappropriately or to find a dissenting opinion to exploit. Danny Williams makes decisions and is accountable to the people every day. Why should he have to put up with Randy Simms who would never be where he is today if it were not for Danny Williams who has given him every break he has ever had. How did he become Mayor? Steve Kent was recruited by Danny Williams. How did he get his job at VOCM? Danny Williams hired Bill Rowe? He would still be a councilor in Mount Pearl with no profile if were not for Danny and what does he do - crucifies the best leader we have ever had.