Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) is responsible for promoting and protecting Canada's interests and assets internationally. DFATD’s specific areas of responsibility include international peace and security, global trade and investment, international development and humanitarian assistance, providing consular assistance to Canadians visiting, living, studying and/or doing business overseas, as well as diplomatic and consular relations, the administration of the foreign service and Canada's missions abroad, and development of international law and its application to Canada.

On June 272013, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) merged with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to become the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). As a result of this merger, a comparison of DFATD’s statistics with those of DFAIT may not provide an accurate picture of the newly amalgamated institution’s performance.Footnote 1,Footnote 2

In 2013–2014, DFATD received 1,159 requests. DFATD was one of the institutions that received the most requests in 2013–2014, representing about 2% of all requests received government-wide. The merger of the two institutions did not significantly increase the total number of requests received in 2013–2014. In fact, the number of requests received was similar to what was received by DFAIT during the reporting period 2012–2013. DFATD also received fewer consultation requests during the period.Footnote 3 It processed slightly more pages per request completed (13 pages).

DFATD’s performance was in general below the government-wide results in 2013–2014.

DFATD completed about 72.15% of all its requests in inventory in 2013–2014. In comparison, about 83.96% of all requests government-wide were completed this reporting period.

More than half of the requests received (53.4%) in 2013–2014 came from the media. An additional 17.8% and 11.8% came from the public and the private sector, respectively.

Additionally, DFATD completed 1,042 informal requests for previously released ATI packages in 2013–2014.Footnote 4

Table 1. Workload

Measures Reporting Period
2012–2013*
Reporting Period
2013–2014*
Number of requests received 1,148 1,159
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 1,057 898
Average number of pages processed per request completed 149 162
% of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed 2.84% 3.65%
Note: The average number of pages processed per request completed and the percentage of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed are calculated from the total of requests completed for which the information was disclosed (in part or totally), exempted/excluded and for requests abandoned. It excludes requests completed for the following dispositions: no records exist, requests transferred and requests treated informally.
*Statistics for 2012–2013 are the ones reported by DFAIT and are provided for information only. Statistics for 2013–2014 include DFAIT and CIDA for April 1 to June 26, 2013 and for DFATD for June 27, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

DFATD processed an average of 162 pages per request completed in 2013–2014. The proportion of completed requests that required processing more than 1,000 pages was 3.7%.Footnote 5

Timeliness

In 2013–2014, 126 requests were completed within 30 days or less, representing about 33.8% of all requests completed by DFATD. The proportion of requests completed in more than 120 days in 2013–2014 (33.3%) was also significantly above the proportion achieved government-wide (10.6%) during the same period.

The proportion of requests completed passed the statutory or extended deadline significantly increased to 36.7% (474 requests) in 2013–2014. The principal reason invoked for completing requests late in 2013–2014 related to “workload pressures” (47.7% of the time). It is also reported in the annual report that the labour disruption of Foreign Service Officers resulted in an “inability of appropriately determine the length of time” necessary to process requests. This might have contributed to the increase in late requests.

About 27.4% of requests closed past the statutory or extended deadline in 2013–2014 took an additional 30 days or less, while 18.8% of them were more than 365 days overdue.

Extensions

The proportion of extensions invoked increased. In 2013–2014, a total of 843 extensions were used, representing 0.65 extensions per request completed. About half of the extensions (50.5%) were for 60 days or less.

About 59.9% of extensions in 2013–2014 were taken under section 9(1)(b) (consultations) and 30.5% of them for section 9(1)(a) (interference with operations).

Disclosure

From the completed requests, 9.8% were disclosed entirely. It is significantly below the government-wide disclosure rate of 26.9% achieved in 2013–2014.

More than half of the pages processed were disclosed in 2013–2014 (58.9%).

Exemptions/Exclusions

In 2013–2014, a total of 3,615 exemptions and 363 exclusions were applied, representing a ratio of 3.08 exemptions/exclusions per request completed. This ratio is the second highest of institutions surveyed.

Frequently applied exemptions in 2013–2014 included: government operations under subsection 21(1) (1,157 times), national defence and international affairs under section 15 (645 times) and personal information (548).

Table 2. Performance

Measures Reporting Period
2012–2013*
Reporting Period
2013–2014*
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 68.63% 72.15%
Completion Time
% of requests completed within 30 days 42.69% 33.80%
Average number of days to complete a request 188 132
% of requests closed past statutory or extended deadline 23.43% 36.74%
% of consultations from government institution completed within 30 days 31.00% 43.95%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 20.67% 22.54%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 57.03% 58.94%
% of requests completed for which the information was disclosed entirely 9.49% 9.77%
% of pages disclosed entirely 3.19% 3.66%
Exemptions/Exclusions
Number of exemptions/exclusions per request completed 2.33 3.08
*Statistics for 2012–2013 are the ones reported by DFAIT and are provided for information only. Statistics for 2013–2014 include DFAIT and CIDA for April 1 to June 26, 2013 and for DFATD for June 27, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

Other activities

DFATD conducted training sessions with ATIP offices across the government on the exercise of discretion in the application of section 15 to limit the need to consult with their institution.

Complaints

A total of 124 complaints were received against DFATD in 2013–2014.Footnote 6,Footnote 7 In comparison, the OIC received 83 complaints against DFAIT and 18 against CIDA in 2012–2013.

Most of the complaints received in 2013–2014 were refusal complaints (83.1%).

As of April 2015, 15 of the complaints received in 2013–2014 were still pending. Of the complaints completed, 23 were well founded, 2 were not well-founded, 61 were settled and 23 were discontinued.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

DFATD presented three statistical reports in their 2013–2014 Annual Report: a report for DFAIT for the period of April 1 to June 26, 2013; a report for CIDA for the period of April 1 to June 26, 2013 and a report for DFATD for the period of June 27, 2013 to March 31, 2014. For the purpose of this analysis, the data for all three reports were amalgamated to cover the entire period of 2013–2014. Given the volume of requests received by CIDA in the first 87 days of the fiscal year (41 requests), we found that, in most instances, including the statistics for CIDA had minimal or no impact on the overall performance of DFATD.

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Footnote 2

This merger was challenging for the ATIP office, as they encountered multiple challenges such as the relocation of former CIDA’s ATIP office and the harmonization of different reporting systems.

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Footnote 3

Over the last 3 years, DFAIT and now DFATD has seen a reduction in consultation requests. From June 27, 2013 to March 31, 2014, DFATD received only 589 consultation requests, compared to 1,136 in 2011–2012. This reduction could be due mainly to two specific reasons: a) the change in TBSDirective on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, which removes the requirement to consult DFATD on the application of section 15; and b) the fact that some consultation requests from DFAIT to CIDA, or vice versa, became unnecessary following the merger of the two institutions.

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Footnote 4

This information was provided by DFATD’s ATIP office.

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Footnote 5

DFATD ATIP office indicated that 11 requests from CIDA that are still outstanding will require the processing of a large volume of pages (about 41,300 pages). DFATD is currently working toward completing these requests. A consultant was hired for this purpose.

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Footnote 6

This includes 4 complaints against CIDA and 120 against DFAIT/DFATD.

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Footnote 7

The numbers reported in this section are based on the OIC’s statistics. The information may not reflect the statistics reported by institutions due to the discrepancies in the methodology used.

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