Tories kill access to information database
Friday, May 2, 2008 - CBC News
The federal Conservatives have quietly killed an access to information registry used by journalists, experts and the public that users say helped hold the government accountable.
The Coordination of Access to Information Requests System, or CAIRS, is an electronic list of nearly every access to information request filed to federal departments and agencies.
Originally created in 1989, it was used as an internal tool to keep track of requests and co-ordinate the government's response between agencies to potentially sensitive information released.
Now, users mine the database to do statistical studies, fine tune phrasing on new requests and discover obscure documents — often using the information against the government.
"It was really a tool designed to make government more open," said CBC investigative journalist David McKie.
"Now that it appears as though this is no longer going to be available it is very disappointing indeed and people are really wondering what the real motivation is."
Last week, a notice to civil servants from Treasury Board stated that effective April 1, "the requirement to update CAIRS is no longer in effect."