Is the positioning of an ATIP professional in an institution important?
Why or why not?
Indeed, the position of an ATIP professional[i] within an institution[ii] is important in both federal and provincial governance structures. Access to the institutional “head”, or major decision maker, through rank is a must. Too many layers of administration between the two roles may directly impact decisions, which are always time sensitive.
The requester of the information- is outside the governmental organization. That person requires confidence that their submission will be received and reviewed by an expert in the ATI field; a person who has appropriate credentials and reasonable permissions to request relevant records, consult further if required, and calculate fees while communicating, negotiating or mediating with all parties involved. The ATIP professional should have authority to review all requested records and decide to recommend disclosure or non-disclosure. This can be helpful should an appeal investigation be performed by the Information Commissioner’s office.
I have had the experience of making both a successful and an unsuccessful request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIP) in Alberta. A quick conversation upon the Coordinator’s receipt of my request to provide some clarification confirmed what the Information Commissioner of Canada, John Reid said in May 2001, “Access Coordinators are the lynchpin of the access to information system,”[iii] From this module’s description of the role of the ATIP professional and through my own provincial ‘FOIP requester’ experience, it is clear to me that this complex position is vital within an organization and as so, should be accordingly positioned with access to key decision-makers.[i] ATIP Professional- refers to Coordinators, Officers, or Analysts despite differences in responsibility, framework or jurisdiction [ii] Institution- refers to the government institution that is subject to access legislation [iii] EXIAPP8176: Information Access Applications: Issues and Practices, Module 1, Page 6 of 23