Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) has initiated a strategy to streamline the process of investigating "special delegation" complaints. Special delegation complaints involve the application of subsections 13(1)(a), 13(1)(b) and/or 15 of the Access to Information Act. We are currently focusing on the investigation of complaints involving the application of subsection 15(1). The goals of this approach are two-fold:
Senior and experienced OIC investigators have been specially designated to conduct these investigations using a portfolio approach, with a focus on institutions with the greatest number of special delegation investigations. The intention is to minimize the number of contact points and administrative delays, and to promote consistency and strong working relationships.
At the intake stage of the investigation, institutions will be provided with an email requesting the records and detailing the relevant test to be met under subsection 15(1). Institutions will be asked to provide, within twenty (20) working days of the institution's receipt of the notice of complaint:
Investigators will create an exemption analysis table setting out the withheld portions of the records in each special delegation file and the results of any investigative research into the public availability of the withheld information at the time of the decision.
This table will be provided to the government institution with a request that it:
If the OIC does not agree with the government institution's analysis, we will, after further discussions with the institution, seek further representations as per paragraph 35(2)(b) of the Act. The complainant will also be given an opportunity to submit representations.
It is anticipated that the streamlining process will result in more frequent requests for formal representations under paragraph 35(2)(b). The intent is to investigate in the most efficient manner to ensure that the rights of requesters to timely and complete disclosure are respected.
Because we are focusing our current efforts on decreasing the backlog of older files, institutions can expect that older files will move quickly to paragraph 35(2)(b) letters, as it is assumed that mediation avenues have been exhausted at this point. However, a comprehensive mediation process will be incorporated into the investigation of newer complaints received by the OIC.