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Published 7th May 2007, 11:54am

A law stipulating that every government agency shall store and arrange its records to allow for quick and timely access is now in force.

The National Archive and Public Records Law was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 23 March. Acting Governor the Hon. George McCarthy, OBE, JP, gave his assent on 11 April, and it was published as Supplement No. 3 with Cayman Islands Gazette No.10 on 14 May.

This law gives to the National Archives overall supervisory authority of public records and provides for creation, management and disposal of the public records of every public agency.

"Every public agency shall make and maintain full and accurate public records of its business and affairs, and such public records shall be managed and maintained in accordance with this Law," the new law reads in part. It calls for the National Archivist to issue record-keeping standards and to inspect files and the manner in which they are stored.

Seen as a necessary legislative tool to facilitate the coming freedom of information law, the public records law's quick retrieval provision will make finding information easier for civil servants, thereby ensuring prompt service for members of the public making freedom of information requests.

The freedom of information bill soon to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly specifies a time-frame of 30 days in which government entities must respond to public information requests.

The National Archive and Public Records Law also prohibits unauthorised destruction of records and allows for disciplinary measures - including dismissal.