Statement outlining results, risks and significant changes in operations, personnel and program

1. Introduction

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC) prepared this quarterly report under section 65.1 of the Financial Administration Act and in the form and manner prescribed by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This report should be read in conjunction with the Main Estimates. It has not been subject to an external audit or review.

The OIC conducts efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. The goal of these investigations is to maximize compliance with the Access to Information Act while fostering disclosure of public sector information. The Commissioner uses the full range of tools, activities and powers at her disposal, from mediation to persuasion and litigation, as required.

The OIC also supports the Commissioner in her advisory role to Parliament and parliamentary committees on all access to information matters. In delivering its mandate, the OIC promotes information rights and advocates a culture of openness to ensure government transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Further information on the OIC’s mandate, responsibilities and program activities can be found in the OIC’s  Report on Plans and Priorities 2014-2015  and Strategic Plan.

1.1 Basis of presentation

This quarterly report was prepared on an expenditure basis. The accompanying Statement of Authorities includes the OIC's spending authorities granted by Parliament and those used by the OIC, consistent with the Main Estimates for 2014–2015. The authority of Parliament is required before money can be spent by federal organizations. Organizations receive annually approved expenditure limits through appropriation acts or through legislation in the form of statutory spending authority for specific purposes. In light of this, this report was prepared using a special purpose financial reporting framework designed to meet financial information needs related to the use of spending authorities.

The OIC uses the full accrual method of accounting to prepare and present the annual financial statements that are part of the departmental performance reporting process. However, the spending authorities voted by Parliament remain on an expenditure basis.

2. Highlights of fiscal quarter and year-to-date results

The Statement of Authorities below shows that the OIC spent approximately 27% of its authorities in the first quarter of 2014–2015. Because personnel expenses represent 82% of planned expenditures, the spending is spread out equally over the year. This statement also indicates a decrease in the Total Available for Use of $3.3 million. Major factors contributing to the net decrease include:

  • A decrease of $2.8 million due to the onetime $2.6 million loan received in 2013-2014 for the OIC office relocation and the associated 2014-2015 $0.2 million loan repayment reimbursed over a period of 15 years;
  • A decrease of $0.3 million due to the sunsetting of the five year IT/IM Strategy;
  • A decrease of $0.2 million as part of the Budget 2012 Spending Review (DRAP);
  • A decrease of $0.1 million due to the transfer to Public Works and Government Services Real Property related to year to year change related to resources associated with accommodation efficiencies; and
  • An increase in salary of $0.1 million due to recently signed collective agreements.

As Table 1 indicates, the OIC’s total budgetary expenditures increased by an amount of $214,000 or 7.6% in the first quarter of 2014−2015, compared to the same period in 2013−2014. There were significant variances within elements of planned expenditures, as follows:

  • The increase of $280,000 for Other Subsidies and Payments is due to a one-time transition payment for implementing salary payment in arrears by the Government of Canada;
  • The decrease of $96,000 in Personnel expenditures is a result of payments in the 1st quarter of 2013-2014 for Termination Benefits and Retroactive Salaries that did not occur in the 1st quarter of 2014-2015; and
  • The increase in Rentals of $23,000 is a result of increased rental charges payable to Public Works and Government Services as a result of the OIC relocation to Gatineau, Quebec.

3. Risks and uncertainties

A well-functioning access system is predicated on there being up-to-date legislation, sound administration and robust oversight. In the absence of this foundation, right to access federal institution information is jeopardized.

In recent years, the OIC has constantly improved its processes. This allowed the OIC to get better results from year to year despite budget constraints. However, the significant and successive budget cuts have placed the OIC at the limit of its financial and organizational flexibility. The lapse for 2013-2014 was less than $38,000, which is approximately 0.1% of OIC’s authorities. Even when adding the Paylist Expenditures for 2013-2014, the carry forward is still less than 2% of OIC’s authorities. In 2013-2014, it would have been extremely difficult for the OIC to bring one more case before the courts without risking overriding the authorities.

Paired with the OIC receiving more complaints from year to year, these combined factors have a direct impact on the OIC’s ability to safeguard Information rights under the Access to Information Act.

4. Significant changes in operations, personnel and program

There were no significant changes in operations, personnel or program in the first quarter of 2014-2015.

5. Budget 2012 implementation

This section provides an overview of the savings measures announced in Budget 2012 that are being implemented in order to refocus government and programs: make it easier for Canadians and business to deal with their government; and, modernize and reduce the back office.

With the Budget 2012 implementation, the OIC budget has been permanently cut by $543,000 in 2014-2015. This will impact the OIC’s ability to carry out its mandate and progress toward its long-term vision.

Access is one of the tools that make citizen engagement in government and the public policy process possible. When the system is at risk, it is more than just an inconvenience to requesters; ultimately, it is the health of Canadian democracy that is at stake.

Approved by

Suzanne Legault
Information Commissioner of Canada

Layla Michaud, CPA, CMA, MBA
Director General, Corporate Services,
Chief Financial Officer

Ottawa, Canada
June 30, 2014

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)

  Fiscal year 2014-2015 Fiscal year 2013-2014
(In thousands of dollars) Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2015*

Used during the quarter ended June 30, 2014

Year-to-date used at quarter-end Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2014*

Used during the quarter ended June 30, 2013

Year-to-date used at quarter-end
Vote 40: Program expenditures 9,898 2,700 2,700 13.171 2.472 2.472
Budgetary statutory authorities:
Contributions to employee benefit plans
1,303 326 326 1,359 340 340
Total budgetary authorities 11,201 3,026 3,026 14,530 2,812 2,812
Total Authorities 11,201 3,026 3,026 14,530 2,812 2,812

* Includes only authorities available for use and granted by Parliament at quarter-end.

Table 1: Departmental budgetary expenditures by Standard Object (unaudited)

  Fiscal year 2014-2015 Fiscal year 2013-2014
(In thousands of dollars) Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2015

Expended
during the
quarter ended June 30, 2014

Year-to-date
used at
quarter-end
Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2014

Expended
during the
quarter ended June 30, 2013

Year-to-date
used at
quarter-end
Personnel 9,202 2,368 2,368 9,168 2,464 2,464
Transportation and communications 169 24 24 169 23 23
Information 111 19 19 125 17 17
Professional and special services 1,429 249 249 2,182 252 252
Rentals 129 53 53 205 30 30
Repair and maintenance 31 15 15 78 20 20
Utilities, materials and supplies 53 14 14 38 6 6
Acquisition of machinery and equipment 77 4 4 2,565
Other subsidies and payments 280 280
Total Budgetary Expenditures 11,201 3,026 3,026 14,530 2,812 2,812