Premier says doc­u­ment shred­ding ban con­tin­ues at depart­ment

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

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