At this week's Executive Committee, I took the time to attend and speak about the city's FOIP process.
The Freedom of Information Process is hugely important to me - I believe a truly Open City is the only way for Edmonton to keep up with the rapidly changing world. And while I think most pieces of data should be in the Open Data catalogue or made available as routine disclosures, when data is not available by default FOIP is the only available recourse left to citizens.
You can listen to the entirety of my comments and the subsequent councillor questions below:
In questioning administration about some of the issues I had, the city manager straight up admitted that even her office does not have the best knowledge of the FOIP process and what is and isn't releasable. The problems were identified as a systemic education issue that needs to be rectified.
And she, commendably, committed to doing so.
On the Council side of the room, Mayor Don Iveson was very receptive to my suggestions of a more "concierge-like" FOIP process - wherein the FOIP co-ordinators are in active communication with the requester throughout the process, even if the request feels clear and specific.
FOIP remains an invaluable tool that arms citizens with the greatest possible weapon: knowledge. I'll be closely monitoring administration's progress as improvements and education are made on the FOIP process - you can rest assured that as your City Councillor in Ward 11, I'll enact policy that FOIP co-ordinators should ensure requesters get what they want, even when it doesn't directly map to what they asked for.
The best way to learn what people want is to simply ask.
The City of Edmonton has undergone reorganization to break down silos that prevented communication; we need to make sure the City itself has open lines of communication with the public. And that starts with the FOIP co-ordinators picking up the phone and saying hello.