Institutions, not requesters, must make efforts to locate records
Complaint: The Privy Council Office (PCO) exempted some information under section 19 in records of travel-related expenses of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and PCO staff. The requester said that records related to exempt PMO staff should also exist.
Investigation: The OIC learned that PCO’s finance group could not find records related to these individuals, since it did not have their names; however, their names were listed on the PCO website.
Outcome: The OIC provided the names to PCO, which conducted a new search, and found and released additional information.
Information Commissioner’s position
- When institutions receive access requests, they must make efforts to determine whether there are responsive records and where they are located.
- Given that the requester was able to find the names of the exempt staff on PCO’s website, PCO employees should also have been able to find them, and should have offered to do so.