The federal government is stuck in the last century when it comes to making electronic data available to the public, says a new study. A national freedom-of-information audit by a newspaper industry association found federal agencies refused to release statistical tables in electronic format.
Instead, the departments disclosed paper copies or pictures of the figures that can't be opened for analysis in a computer program — even though the Access to Information Act says records should be provided to the public "in the format requested."
"I think it's absurd," said Fred Vallance-Jones, a University of King's College journalism professor who led the project for Newspapers Canada.
"We're in the second decade of the 21st century, when everybody from three years old up uses data routinely. And governments still seem to want to enforce the 1980s on us. It really is absolutely baffling."
Overall, the audit found that using the web of information laws across the country to dislodge information from government files means being hindered by excessive delays and unnecessary fees.