Letter to Information Commissioner: further questions about failed ATIP request.

The following letter was sent in the mail today. I posted the initial ATIP request on this BLOG as well.

Note: I am aware of, but haven't yet read, the ATIP manual provided by On the Identity Trail.

Dear Information Commissioner of Canada,

I sent an Access to Information request to PWGSC as follows:

List of vendors consulted and text of documents created by vendors in relation to the "Shared Services" initiative. The results of any negotiations with vendors that are being considered to supply the so-called common operating system, common application or servers software, and common directory services.

Any policy analysis of whether the "shared services" initiative will be compliant with government procurement requirements in trade agreements, including but not limited to NAFTA Article 1007: Technical Specifications. For further clarification, see CITT File No. PR-2000-073.

PWGSC gave my request file number: A-2005-00353 / shc

At that time I was aware of discussions at PWGSC to focus procurement on a specific vendor, in this case Microsoft. I did not have details, and sent in this request to obtain those details. I did not want to specify in my ATIP request that I wanted the PWGSC procurement strategy for Microsoft as I had hoped to receive information on additional vendors as well.

On October 12, 2005 I received a reply which included a public document from the Public Policy Forum entitled "Vendor engagement strategy consultation", Final Report, March 31, 2005. This document is already publicly available online at http://www.ppforum.ca/ow/vendor_engagment_report.pdf

The reply letter went further to indicate that "no records exist within PWGSC for the remainder of your request".

Since that time I was shown a copy of one document that I should have been able to obtain based on my request.

Title: Departmental Procurement Strategy for MicrosoftTM Products

Docs-Open No.: 212977
File Name: PWGSC Procurement Strategy for MS Products

This document offers the procurement strategy for Microsoft products, and includes departmental discussion of the "risks" of their proposals which includes the possibility that this strategy would violate accountable procurement practises. This accountability is critical at a time when these incumbent vendors might otherwise face stiff competition from software using alternative business models which do not charge royalty fees at all. An example is OpenOffice.org for office productivity which does not charge royalty fees, but for which enhancement and support contracts can be bought from a competitive market of vendors that involves no vendor lock-in.

Since the "PWGSC Procurement Strategy for MS Products" document was not returned from my request, I am left to wonder what other documents describing strategies with this and other vendors were also not returned to me.

I look for your advise on how to proceed. Please let me know if there is more that I should be doing on my own, or whether this is something that your office is able to pursue to ensure we are receiving an adequately transparent picture of how PWGSC is engaging with vendors.

Thank you.
Russell McOrmond

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Wow. Greeeeasy. I note that

Wow. Greeeeasy. I note that you are entitled to "make representations to the investigator," i.e. argue the case. From the ID Trail ATIP guide, it looks as though you can actually appear in front of the investigator and argue WHY you think such documents exist. In this case you are aware of such documents, but it may be productive to argue in detail (and in person) why they should have been provided. It would be an enlightening exercise, and an experience builder for next time.

But I can say one thing, I shan't be so polite in my ATIP complaint! :-)

Different folks..

Just remember that the person you are complaining to is not the same people who denied your request. The information commissioner works for us (the public), while the folks in the ATIP offices of the departments work for the departments. It is a different mindset entirely.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

True. Though I confidently

True. Though I confidently anticipate similarly uncooperative behaviour. We ought to agree on the failure modes... then bet a pint over it!

Call from Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada

I received a call this afternoon from the investigator who has been assigned this case.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.