Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez has ordered hospital executives to disclose details of their six-figure salaries in the interests of “accountability and transparency”.
Ms Gutierrez said, in a decision issued yesterday, that the Bermuda Hospitals Board had to release information on the amounts paid to its executive team within $10,000 salary bands.
She said naming the executives and exact details of their salary and compensation packages would be an “unfair invasion of their privacy”.
However, she added that the “public interest requires access to more narrow bands for the range of total cost for individual executive team positions”.
Ms Gutierrez ordered the board to release the information regarding the chief of staff, chief of psychiatry, chief of nursing, chief operating officer, chief financial officer and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s chief operating officer posts by December 12.
Salary and compensation details for the executive team were requested under public access to information by The Royal Gazettein January 2016.
The publicly funded quango rejected the request because it said it had to release the information anyway within three months, under separate legislation.
In May that year, it disclosed that chief executive Venetta Symonds, who is due to retire in July 2020, had a total compensation package of almost $470,000 a year.
The same details were not released for the six other members of her executive team. Instead, the board gave a total cost for each “executive level” staff member as falling within a range of $158,300 to $504,200.
Ms Gutierrez wrote: “This range is ... very broad. The Information Commissioner agrees with [The Royal Gazette] that such a broad range does not further the accountability purposes of the Pati Act.”
She added: “The Information Commissioner is not persuaded by BHB’s argument that a salary range of $10,000 ... is too narrow.”
The Information Commissioner said she was satisfied that to “promote the public interest in accountability and transparency for public expenditures, while continuing to protect the reasonable privacy rights and freedoms of the individual members of the executive team”, BHB must disclose the total cost of each executive team position, in a maximum range of $10,000.
She added: “The commitment in the public sector, especially for those in executive positions, is to be accountable to the public, including for an individual’s compensation.
“At times this accountability may generate criticism, both fair and unfair. But at the heart of this dynamic is the reality that the compensation for such executive officers comes from the public and those officers are accountable for managing the delivery of services to the public.”
A BHB spokeswoman said last night: “Bermuda Hospitals Board is responding directly to the ICO regarding the decision, as required by the ICO.”
• To view the Information Commissioner’s decision, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”