On December 8, I noticed the Govt. of Alberta had posted a new video to YouTube titled, FOIP Request Service Guided Tour. You know what? I've honestly always wanted to submit a FOIP request!
Here are some initial thoughts on how it went, and I'll report back if/when I hear something.
So we start at https://foip.alberta.ca, where we learn that,
Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act) provides a method to request records, your own personal information, and to request correction of your own personal information in records held by public bodies. The FOIP Request Service allows you to make requests to the Government of Alberta and some provincial public bodies. If you want to make a request to another public body not covered by this service, please contact the FOIP Coordinator for the appropriate FOIP Office.
At the suggestion of a friend, I thought I'd see what I could learn about one of the firms the current government seems to use as a go-to for so many of their reports, McKinsey & Company. This is what I ultimately came up with, and this was submitted on Dec. 16:
I would like to obtain a list of all contracts awarded by the Alberta Government to McKinsey and Company for the calendar years 2019 and 2020. I would also like to obtain a list of all reports finished by McKinsey and Company for the Alberta Government during the calendar years 2019 and 2020. These two lists should be delivered in an open format such as CSV.
I already had an Alberta ID, so was able to log in right away. I was immediately disappointed to realize that I wasn't going to be able to request records across the entire government :-( Right off the bat I had to choose a specific department. Fair enough, Advanced Education it is.
The first unanswered question is what's the difference between a General and a Personal request? No idea or explanation. I guess from later questions that a Personal request is a request for data about oneself.
Question #2 comes right after that. Scrolling down the screen I have lots of options. What, exactly, do they mean? Will it cost more, or take longer, if I select or deselect some of these options? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The last question on the form itself is about supporting documentation. In the video I just rewatched, it does note that this is optional, but wouldn't it be nice to mention that on the form too?
Huh. Neither at the end of the submission nor in the email receipt is there any indication of what comes next, or how long this might take. I did some searching, and eventually found a PDF from 2009 that suggests I'll hear back within 30 days.
I just logged in to check the status of my request, and am left with a final question. Did I miss something, or does this just mean, as I hope, that the request is still open? Too many questions!!!
So yeah, a $25 experiment. Stay tuned, and Happy Holidays!
January 26, 2021 update: I realized the 30-day period had passed, so I logged back on and saw that the status still read "Online Incomplete". I poked at it a few times and finally realized when I hit the Continue button (screenshot above) it was not in fact asking me to submit a new request, which is what the screen looked like to me. I clicked next on each existing page looking for some indication that I had missed some information, and eventually got to the page that showed I had paid, and when I clicked the next screen it then said the status was Submitted. So NOW the 30-day clock starts. See you again at the end of February. (smh)