Access to information is a bedrock principle of contemporary democratic governments and their public agencies and entities. Access to information depends upon these public institutions to document their activities and decisions. When public institutions do not document their activities and decisions, citizens’ right of access is ultimately denied. Public accountability and trust, in addition to institutional memory and the historical record, are undermined without the creation of appropriate records. Establishing and enforcing a duty to document helps promote accountability, openness, transparency, good governance, and public trust in public institutions. A duty to document should therefore be a fundamental component of access to information legislation and records and information management practices.

This article begins a discussion on the concept and practice of a duty to document. Using Canada as a case study, this article's main aim is to help illuminate the importance and implications of a duty to document in both access laws and records and information management policies to help ensure good governance practices.

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