Monday, 30 January 2012

A Non-Satirical Look at Ottawa's PIN Messaging "Scandal"

Is Ottawa's PIN scandal really a tempest in a teapot.

You cannot legislate or regulate integrity. The only thing that can ensure someone's integrity is their integrity.

As it stands now there is a possibility for Ottawa City staff members to discuss public policy matters without there being a record of it, by holding those discussions in person, on the telephone or via PIN messages, none of which is recorded.

If the City was to start recording PIN messages, staff members could still conduct unrecorded conversations on the telephone or in person.

So the debate should not be about ensuring staff do not conduct unrecorded conversations or enforcing some code of integrity.

The debate should be about whether PIN messages are the type of interaction that should form part of the public record. My understanding is that, even more than phone and in person conversations they are not.

Normal documentation and even e-malls that often contain lengthy information, explanations and reasoning for policies often do and should be documented and archived. In the case of phone conversations or in person meetings the usual practice is to take notes during, or make them after, to record key information shared or decisions taken. This can easily be done for PIN messages when warranted and avoid a massive and costly archiving of every mundane exchange.

We could record every PIN message and phone call and in person conversation and if people wanted to have a private and secret conversation it would not be hard to do, barring attaching 24 hour recording devices to all staff members bodies, and then the satirical take wouldn't seem so far out after all.

You cannot legislate or regulate integrity. The only thing that can ensure someone's integrity is their integrity.

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