Premier says document shredding ban continues at department
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says a ban on document shredding will continue in the Environment Department until she is sure no more documents are improperly destroyed.
Notley said Friday her government wants to make sure problems cited in a report this week are resolved and that new rules and procedures already implemented are effective.
“Once those (new procedures) are clearly in place and we're confident that they're being acted on, then the moratorium will be lifted,” Notley told reporters during a news conference in Winnipeg with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.
Her comments come a day after Alberta's Privacy and Public Interest commissioners delivered their report into reports of improper document shredding at the department last May, during the power transfer between the Progressive Conservatives and Notley's NDP.
Notley imposed a ban on all government shredding at that time, but lifted it two months later, on July 13th, 2014, for all departments except Environment.
The report found that 344 boxes of high-level and ministerial-level documents and briefing notes were improperly disposed of.
Investigators said widespread confusion over the rules, coupled with a lack of proper documentation on what was shredded and why, meant they could not determine whether there was intent to illegally shred documents.
The investigators said the confusion and contradictions over what documents to retain and what to shred are occurring across government.
They also found that Service Alberta, the department responsible for the document retention rules, is not monitoring the system and there are no penalties for anyone caught improperly shredding documents.
The report makes 16 recommendations to improve performance and accountability in the system, and the government is now acting to implement all of them.
“We have a unit which essentially ensures compliance. We have better (staff) training programs in place and we have better record keeping,” said Notley.
“(But) there are certainly worthwhile recommendations that also come from the report that was released yesterday, and we will be working very closely with our officials to ensure that all of those recommendations are incorporated into the improved records management practices.”
Opposition parties have also urged Notley move quickly to implement the recommendations. The report painted a bleak picture of records management.
It quoted some Service Alberta officials describing to investigators a “dog's breakfast” of confusing and contradictory regulations. Some staff characterized management of the system as “a huge hole.”
The report quoted senior records officials in departments complaining that they were held responsible when problems arose, but had no budget, mandate, or authority to get things done.