5. Ensuring operational integrity and corporate support to investigations

Over the years, we have continued to practice sound governance and stewardship of our limited resources. Our work in these areas has provided a solid foundation for our core business—investigations—and will help us ensure ongoing operational integrity.

Audit

Internal audit has proven crucial to our ongoing efforts to improve our performance. In 2011–2012, we carried out a detailed internal audit of our investigative function and prepared a comprehensive plan to address the findings (see Chapter 1). We also continued to respond to the findings of the 2010 audit of our Intake and Early Resolution Unit, and refine the resulting processes and approaches.

For more information, see the audit committee annual report on our website.

We carried out a self-assessment against the findings and recommendations of the Office of the Comptroller General’s 2011 horizontal audits of small departments and agencies. This proved to be a valuable exercise, and we shared the results with the members of our external audit committee. It was their recommendation that we continue this self-assessment, since it allows us to judge the adequacy of internal controls, processes and governance frameworks, feeds into the risk assessment process and may preempt the need for us to carry out similar audits ourselves.

The Public Service Commission conducted an audit of our staffing practices in the fall of 2011. We will publish the results in the fall of 2012.

Resources

The operating budget freeze introduced with Budget 2010 has removed the limited financial flexibility we previously had. Our program and expenditure review conducted in the context of the government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan indicated that any reductions to our existing appropriations would significantly impact program results. Nonetheless, our overall budget was cut by 5 percent, and, as a result, our overall staff complement will have to be reduced by 11 percent by the end of 2013.

Such reductions would compromise our ability to deal with the demands of our current inventory and to meet other corporate obligations, such as policy compliance. Any unexpected event that would impact our workload would create significant financial pressures on the organization.

Exceptional workplace

Within the context of our new fiscal situation, creating and maintaining an exceptional workplace remains an important goal (see 2011–2014 Strategic Plan). To establish how we would achieve it, we will develop in the fall of 2012 a new integrated human resource-business plan for the years 2012–2014.

Talent management is clearly our single most important requirement to fulfill business needs and foster employee satisfaction. It comprises identifying, developing and effectively using individuals’ talent, based on performance reviews, competency assessments, learning objectives and career aspirations.

Values and ethics

In 2010, our employees took the lead in defining our corporate values and value statements. In 2012–2013, we will integrate these values into our new organizational code of conduct, which will build on the 2012 Values and Ethics Codefor the Public Sector and will include guidelines on conflict of interest and post-employment. Our code of conduct will come into effect in 2012–2013.

Information management/information technology

Since 2009–2010, the continued upgrade and consolidation of our technology and information infrastructure has provided us with tools and systems to more effectively plan, manage and carry out our duties.

After successfully implementing our new electronic records management system in the spring of 2011, we began work to renew the legal case management system. We also began to modernize the architecture behind our networks and continued to enhance the security of our systems to protect the sensitive information we collect from institutions.

A major project for the year was upgrading, in the wake of a court decision, how we present material on our website. This will ensure that everything we post is fully accessible to all members of the public, including those who require assistive devices to access Web-based content.

Security

A major thrust of our efforts over the past two years has been the establishment of a full-fledged security program in line with the 2009 Policy on Government Security. The program covers a wide range of activities, including business continuity planning, personnel security, physical security, contracting security, technology security, and awareness and training.

To date, we have carried out a number of risk and compliance assessments and implemented various corrective measures. In 2011–2012, we worked to finalize our corporate security policy framework and developed related plans and procedures. In 2012–2013, we will undertake staff security training.

Access to information and privacy

Since becoming subject to both the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act five years ago, we have made every attempt to provide exemplary service to Canadians seeking information from us.

Our access to information workload has been quite different each year since 2007 (see chart, below); however, we were able to close nearly all of the requests within the year they came in.

In 2011–2012, we completed 44 requests on or before the end of the fiscal year. There was one complaint. (See Appendix A, for the annual report of the Information Commissioner ad hoc.) In the previous two years, there had been only one other complaint. The Information Commissioner ad hoc, who investigates complaints against us, since we do not investigate ourselves, found both to be not substantiated.

The 48 new requests we received this year are slightly more than the 46 we received in 2010–2011. However, the number of pages we had to review to complete those requests more than tripled, from 7,206 in 2010–2011 to 25,187 in 2011–2012. Even with that increased page volume, and some complex requests, we kept the average completion time down to 16 days. We carried two requests into the year from 2010–2011, and six came in right at the end of the year. We carried these over into 2012–2013. We took a total of six extensions, four of which were for 30 days or fewer, and two were for 31 to 60 days.

On the privacy side, we received five requests, one fewer than in 2010–2011, and completed all five within the 30-day statutory time limit.

We assessed the pilot project we launched in 2010–2011 to waive the five-dollar fee for submitting an access request and decided to make it permanent. We also continued to post summaries of our completed requests, along with a link for requesting the released records. In 2011–2012, requesters took advantage of this service 19 times.

For more information, consult our annual reports to Parliament on our access to information and privacy activities.

Access to information activity, 2007–2008 to 2011–2012
2007–2008 2008–2009 2009–2010 2010–2011 2011–2012
Number of new requests 93 113 28 46 48
Number of requests completed within the year 92 109 31 46 44
Number of pages to review 7,696 40,489 56,589 7,206 25,187
Number of consultation requests from other institutions 23 23 4 21 13
Average completion time (in days) n/a n/a 29 15 22
Number of complaints 10 13 1 0 1
Number of privacy requests 3 2 3 6 5

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