6. Looking ahead
As we move into the second year of our 2011–2014 strategic plan, we will continue to strive to meet our objectives through activities and initiatives, such as those described below, in our three key areas (leading access to information regime, exemplary service to Canadians and exceptional workplace). Our work will also be guided by the imperatives set out in the Clerk of the Privy Council’s annual report on the public service in terms of recruiting to fill skills gaps, developing competencies, and achieving excellence and results in our core functions.
As we grapple with our increasingly complex inventory of complaints, and expecting that we could receive between 2,000 and 2,500 complaints in 2012–2013 (5 to 6 percent of all access requests), we will continue to develop and refine strategies to work through our caseload efficiently and effectively. For example, we plan to expand our use of the portfolio approach and fine-tune it according to institutions’ business lines, exemptions invoked and the subject matter of the request.
To support our investigative function, we will integrate our case management systems for investigations and litigation matters. With a similar goal, we will develop standard processes to facilitate coordination between the investigative and legal branches.
We will also closely monitor the impact of deficit reduction plans on access to information operations across the system, since they will likely affect the type and number of complaints we receive in the coming years.
A new Assistant Commissioner will be appointed in 2012–2013 to lead us in this work.
Updating the Access to Information Act
Canada will mark the 30th anniversary of the Access to Information Act in 2013. Since the Act came into force in 1983, all provinces and territories have implemented increasingly progressive access laws—joining early adopters Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, who were the first in Canada to pass freedom of information legislation. In addition, more than 90 countries have or are in the process of adopting access laws.
In the intervening years, Canada’s law has been surpassed by those of its national and international counterparts. It has not kept pace with legislative, policy and technological developments.
To provide the government with input on how the Act could be brought in line with current requirements, we are conducting a review of the access laws in various jurisdictions, and will complete this in 2012–2013. We will also provide information on this topic to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and other parliamentary committees, as requested.
Open Government Partnership
In 2011, the Speech from the Throne and several other developments gave impetus to open government at the federal level. On September 19, 2011, the government signalled Canada’s intent to join the international Open Government Partnership. In 2012−2013, we will provide informed input on the necessary amendments to the Access to Information Act on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. We will also provide input into the government’s open government initiatives both at home and as part of the international effort.
Shared services delivery
To achieve greater efficiencies and minimize risks, we will take advantage of shared services options, when feasible. In April 2012, we established a memorandum of understanding with the Shared Services Unit of Public Works and Government Services Canada for all human resources services.
Our planned relocation with other Agents of Parliament in 2013 presents additional opportunities to achieve efficiencies by sharing common administrative services. We will continue to implement standard business processes consistent with those of other federal institutions. This standardization will facilitate any transition to shared services arrangements we choose to make.