Conservatives Kill ATIP Database

The CBC is reporting that the Conservative government has quietly killed the CAIRS database, an invaluable source of information that listed virtually all ATIP requests.  The database was an essential research tool for more open government and the decision will have an exceptionally damaging effect on government accountability and transparency.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Most ATIP requests are from journalists and professors and consume large amounts of public funds to benefit their private agendas

  2. ATIP
    Yes, what nerve that ‘journalists and professors’ should want to know what information is being sought from government. Private agendas? No, we can’t have those…

  3. Guy Moreau says:

    No because of Money
    “Written by on 2008-05-02 23:47:29Most ATIP requests are from journalists and professors and consume large amounts of public funds to benefit their private agenda”

    Did you know how much it cost to the requester for an ATIP. The government actually makes money off of ATIP. This must be one of the factors in the decision – that and hiding all the bad stuff.

    I know I looked it up once and it was prohibitive for an individual. There is a cost per document, per person and per hour.

  4. Veteran Ottawa Cynic says:

    Reap What They Sow

    Add it to the growing list of nails in the coffin of open and transparent government:
    – Elimination of the Law Commission of Canada
    – Elimination of the Court Challenges Program
    – Making every bill a matter of confidence

    Michael, I suggest you start your own database of ATIPs. You can catch up by demanding – via ATIP – a complete list of ATIPs filed to date and update it once a month via a monthly ATIP. And you can make it much more user friendly than the Government ever did.

    Keep up the indispensable work…

  5. What can we do?
    So what can we do to fight this? What is the best plan of action?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Miraj K
    this is one of the most ironic/hilarious[?] comment i find in the cbc news report on the decision behind closing down atip:
    “extensive consultations showed it [ATIP] wasn’t valued by government departments.”

    well off course it wouldn’t be valued by govt. departments if they don’t ‘value’ little things like transparency and accountability. and what if the general public “values” access to information? they don’t count i guess!

  7. ATIP and money
    To Mr. Guy Moreau, you may wish to get your facts straight before you post. The government does not make money off of Access to Information requests, in facts they lose money on it. To submit an Access to Information request all you do is send your request and 5 bucks to which ever department it pertains to. That 5 dollars gives you 5 hours of research time. This does not include the amount of time that it takes to review the material, only the time it takes to gather the material. So, if you ask for info from DND about something involving Afghanistan, and the search took less than 5 hours to gather that material, than that is it. If it takes more than 5 hours, the bill is $10/h, which is much less than the average government worker makes per hour would you not agree.

    Now lets say that the search took 4 hours and resulted in about 1000 pages of material. That material gets scanned into a database. Lets say that takes about one day of work. After that, the material has to be read by someone to determine what can be released. Lets say it takes 3 full work days to do this. So now you have about 30 hours of work done for something that you paid $5 for. Ya, I can see this being a money making scheme indeed.

    If you still don’t believe me, last year the Treasury Board of Canada had these numbers (for the fiscal year of 2006 – 2007)- “During the reporting period, total fees collected were $1,155 in application fees and $1,257.30 for reproduction, searching, and preparation costs. During 2006–07, the ATIP Office incurred an estimated $356,626 in salary costs and $27,477 in administrative costs to administer the Access to Information Act. These costs do not include the resources expended by the program areas of the Secretariat to meet the requirements of the acts.”

    [ link ]

    Please don’t be like the media or the government and post information that is one sided, misleading and wrong.

  8. Guy Moreau says:

    Thank you Albert for your correction. I must have bad memory or the City was much more expensive or even things changed since last time I looked it up.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Which I guess proves the point I made in the first post. ATIP is fine but in most cases taxpayers are footing the huge bill for people using this information to make money from writing articles

  10. Michael Geist says:

    While I think ATIP is essential for far more than writing articles, public access to the CAIRS database saves taxpayer dollars since it enables public access to requests that have already been completed. That removes the need for costly duplicative requests and helps maximize the benefit derived from completed requests. Even if you think the public is footing huge bills for ATIPs (which I don’t agree with – search and copying charges can be significant), CAIRS helps provide better value for the money and its cancellation will only lead to greater taxpayer expenditures.

  11. If I understand the gist of the CBC article, people were using it to save themselves money on the searches… And it doesn’t help if you looking for current information, stuff which hasn’t been requested. How many requests were made for reproductions of completed requests from the CAIRS database, and how much did it cost to administer? I saw nothing of that in the article.

    The whole ATIP issue can be problematic. People complain about the size of the federal public service, and then complain that they have a hard time accessing these documents… which requires a larger public service to service the requests.

  12. liberatives are the new party says:

    liberatives are the new party
    and what the heck is govt for anyway but to provide us people information and services
    ok now we have no information…
    tune in next month when they shut down all the rest of the services so they can pad the oil barons some more csh and continue the wack on manufacturing sector.

  13. Those greedy journalists!
    Journalists and professors cannot make money from these requests unless they share what they learn with the public. It is not a bad thing that there is a financial incentive for journalists to seek out and share information, as we would never find out otherwise.

  14. Jack Robinson says:

    ATIP o’ the Iceburg?
    Beyond the obvious value the ATIP database has to journalists, scholars and anyone seeking to monitor trends of concern regarding government activities and the rightful(?) dissemination of information archived by publicly-funded organizations… this latest under-the-radar edict/coup by the Neo-Con cabal ensconced in our ‘New Rome on the Ottawa’ is clearly trip-wired to make all future, lawful requests unreferenceable… thus making the process even more daunting, sluggish and calculatedly futile.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Facebook Group
    Reinstate CAIRS Facebook Group
    [ link ]