The Information Commissioner is appointed by the Governor, after consultation with the Premier, who shall first have consulted the Opposition Leader, pursuant to the PATI Act. The Information Commissioner must be completely independent when making decisions and performing functions under the PATI Act, and is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
Although no person may direct or control the work of the Commissioner in fulfilling her mandate under the PATI Act, the Commissioner’s decisions and actions may be subject to scrutiny in several ways. The Information Commissioner’s formal decisions are subject to judicial review. The Information Commissioner’s Annual Report must be laid before the Legislature. As an accounting officer of public funds, the Commissioner is accountable to the Accountant General and the Auditor General. Through these controls, the Information Commissioner remains accountable to the public.
The ICO is an accredited member of the International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC), and Commissioner Gutierrez is a member of the ICIC Executive Committee.
PATI Act & Regulations
Bermuda’s PATI Act gives the public a legal right to access records that Bermuda’s public authorities hold. It supports the idea that public records are a national resource. Importantly, it takes away the discretion of a public officer to decide whether or not to give information to someone. Instead, the PATI Act requires that if a request is made, the public authority may only refuse to turn over the record in specific circumstances set out in the PATI Act. Otherwise, access to the record must be granted. The PATI Act strikes a balance between the public’s right to know information and the public authority’s need to keep some information confidential.
By broad international consensus, a strong, legislated public right to access information is a defining characteristic of any truly democratic country. This consensus has emerged on the basis that, to be fully participant in the democratic process, citizens must have the means to inform themselves about the workings of their government to the greatest extent possible without unduly interfering with or impairing the government’s ability to function in the public interest.
In short, public access laws allow the public to know more about how and why public authorities do particular work or make certain decisions. Bermuda’s political leaders from different parties, community members and the public service worked for over a decade to grow the idea of increased transparency by government into a reality. Today, the PATI Act creates an opportunity for everyone in our country to be a more informed, included and involved member of our democracy.
The PATI Act makes more information from public authorities available as a matter of routine—either where they must publish (or ready) certain information without the need for a PATI request, or the PATI Act requires that they give it to you when you ask for it.
The Schedule to the PATI Act identifies public authorities by name and by category. The ICO holds public authorities’ Information Statements. You can access the ICO’s list of public authorities and their Information Statements HERE.
|ICO Organisational Chart as at 10 October 2022|
Memorandum of Understanding
The ICO may enter into an MOU as needed, to memorialise the framework for an organisational relationship. Currently, the ICO has an MOU with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for our shared office space and certain shared administrative services.
|MOU Between Office of the Information Commissioner for Bermuda and Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Bermuda in relation to the Co-Location in the Maxwell Roberts Building|
International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC)
The ICIC is the only permanent international network that connects member Information Commissioners to collectively protect and promote access to public information as a fundamental pillar to social, economic and democratic governance globally. The ICIC’s mission is to “share knowledge and best practices, to build capacity, to help identify what is needed for global progress and to act as a collective voice in international fora with a view towards improving people’s right to public information and their ability to hold to account bodies that provide public functions”.
Commissioner Gutierrez was elected to the first ICIC Executive Committee after certification of the vote on 10 May 2021. Commissioner Gutierrez previously joined her colleagues to adopt the ICIC Charter in March 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The ICIC Executive Committee members are:
- Mexico (Chair) – National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (ICIC Annual Conference host 2022)
- Albania – Information and Data Protection Commissioner
- Bermuda – Information Commissioner’s Office
- Brazil – Office of the Comptroller General (ICIC Annual Conference host 2021)
- Chile – Chilean Transparency Council
- Kenya – Commission on Administrative Justice (Office of the Ombudsman)
- South Africa – Information Regulator
- United States – Office of Government Information Services
The Information Commissioner and staff attend the annual ICIC conferences, which are held in host member countries around the world. During 2022-2023, Bermuda’s ICO is a member of the ICIC’s Working Group for Transparency by Design.