Today, the Right to Know Coalition of Nova Scotia is launching the results of a study into the openness policies of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). The study, “Transparency in HRM: Room for Improvement”, compares HRM’s policies against those of better practice cities around the world. Although HRM has made some progress in recent years, notably in reducing the number of meetings which are held in-camera, the city still has significant room for improvement. In particular, the study notes that HRM publishes far less information about contracts and tenders than other jurisdictions examined.
“Without robust transparency, it is impossible for the public to monitor how their tax dollars are being spent,” the Coalition said. “Our research demonstrates that Halifax has a long way to go to fully guarantee a right to information for its citizens.”
Based on the results of our research, the Right to Know Coalition recommends that HRM:
• Expand the information published about contracts and tenders, including the name of every bidder, specific cost breakdowns for each bid received and the criteria by which bids were assessed.
• Improve its procurement and tendering database.
• Make its annual procurement report publicly available.
• Publish its disclosures in machine-processable formats.
• Publish information about the percentage of meeting time spent in-camera, and record all in-camera meetings to allow them to be released when the subject matter is no longer sensitive.