Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Undertakes Review of Public Sector Outsourcing

December 15, 2004

Information and Privacy Commissioner Frank Work announced that his office will be working jointly with the Government of Alberta to examine the implications of public sector outsourcing for the personal information of Albertans. “Outsourcing” in this context refers to contracting out business functions that involve Albertans’ personal information.

This review follows on the British Columbia report titled, Privacy and the USA Patriot Act, Implications for British Columbia Public Sector Outsourcing. British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner released the 151-page report on October 29.

Under an arrangement between the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and Alberta Government Services, a working group will identify current outsourcing arrangements with contractors outside of Canada and identify current outsourcing arrangements with contractors inside Canada, but affiliated with entities outside of Canada. The review will include provincial and municipal governments, certain police forces, school boards and regional health authorities, among others.

This review will consist of three parts. First, outsourcing agreements will be identified. Second, the potential for unintended disclosure of personal information to foreign law enforcement agencies will be assessed. Finally, measures that can be taken to reduce unintended disclosures will be identified, and recommended to Government. The Commissioner expects to publicly release his findings and recommendations in early 2005.

In September 2004, Commissioner Work stated that his Office would review public sector outsourcing in Alberta once the B.C. report was released, and assess “what the risks are with respect to the personal information of Albertans, and what remedies there might be.”

Section 53(1)(e) of Alberta’s Freedom of the Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows the Commissioner to engage in or commission research into anything affecting the achievement of the purposes of the Act.