B.C. government touts speedy response time for media inquiries
B.C. budget documents contain much more than information on how much cash the government proposes to spend and how much it owes. Indeed, the service plans for provincial ministries contain reports on what they are doing to meet established objectives.
For instance, the latest service plan for the Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government, released last week, summarizes how the government is doing with regard to "timely response to media inquiries". Apparently, the government's goal is to handle 97 percent of media requests in a timely manner—a target it is forecast to meet in the current fiscal year. This "performance measure" is calculated by averaging the percentage of journalists' inquiries acknowledged within one hour and the percentage of requests responded to by reporters' deadlines.
What the stats don't do is paint a picture of the quality of the government's responses and how that varies according to the ministries and media outlets involved. Here's two common responses to Georgia Straight interview requests that might be classified as "timely" but hardly considered "open government":
- A spokesperson says a minister is "unavailable" for an interview but will be providing a written statement.
- A ministry spokesperson provides information in an email or by phone but says it's not for attribution.
Some stats on the frequency of these responses might be interesting.