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Deleting Accountability: Record Management Practices of Political Staff - A Special Investigation Report

File #  NJ13-4
Summary

Investigation into the allegation that there had been an inappropriate deletion of all emails related to the cancellation and relocation of the gas plants by political staff in the former Minister of Energy’s Office. Based on information received, a review of the email management practices in the former Premier’s Office was also conducted.

Findings:

The practice of indiscriminate deletion of all emails sent and received by the former Chief of Staff was in violation of the Archives and Recordkeeping Act (ARA) and the records retention schedule developed by Archives of Ontario for ministers’ offices.

The email management practices of the former Premier’s office were in violation of the obligations set out in the ARA.

Recommendations:

Ministry of Government Services

  1. Conduct a complete review of the Archives of Ontario records retention policies and practices that apply to the records management processes in ministers’ offices and the Premier’s office, having regard to the issues raised in this Report. Staff responsibility for retaining business records must be clearly set out, in an effort to ensure proper execution of the retention schedules. Particular attention should be paid to staff responsibility for retaining records originating with, and kept by, offices and branches within the ministries.

Office of the Premier

  1. Develop policies and procedures to ensure that ministers’ staff are fully trained regarding their records management obligations – immediately following a change in ministers’ staff, a change in government, or upon the hiring of any new staff within the office.

  2. Require that a senior individual be designated in each minister’s office and the Premier’s office as the person who is accountable for the implementation of the Archives of Ontario records management policies, and for ensuring that all new staff receive the appropriate training.

  3. Issue a communiqué to all staff within the Premier’s and ministers’ offices regarding this Investigation Report. This communiqué should include a message that the Premier takes records retention requirements and the transparency purposes of FIPPA and the ARA very seriously, has an expectation that all staff will comply with relevant laws and policies, and requires that a senior individual be designated in each office to be accountable for the implementation of records management policies and procedures.

FIPPA/MFIPPA amendments

FIPPA and MFIPPA be amended to address institutions’ responsibilities to ensure that all key decisions are documented, to secure retention of records, and to add an offence for the wilful and inappropriate destruction of records:

  1. Create a legislative duty to document communications and business-related activities within FIPPA and MFIPPA; including a duty to accurately document key decisions;

  2. Require that every institution subject to FIPPA and MFIPPA define, document and put into place reasonable measures to securely retain records that are subject to or may reasonably be subject to an access request under FIPPA and MFIPPA, taking into account the nature of the records to be retained;

  3. Prohibit the wilful destruction of records that are subject to, or may reasonably be subject to, an access request under FIPPA and MFIPPA; and

  4. Make it an offence under FIPPA and MFIPPA for any person to wilfully destroy records that are subject to, or may reasonably be subject to, an access request under FIPPA and MFIPPA.

News ReleaseCommissioner Cavoukian dismayed by the indiscriminate deletion of emails in Ontario cabinet ministers’ offices

Addendum to Deleting Accountability: Record Management Practices of Political Staff - A Special Investigation Report

Legislation
  • FIPPA
  • Section 1
Subject Index
Investigator  Ann Cavoukian
Published  Jun 05, 2013
Type  Special Investigation Report
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