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

1. Introduction

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC) has 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 2015-2016  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 2015-2016. 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 22% of its authorities in the third quarter of 2015–2016. Because personnel expenses represent 81% 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 $146,000. Major factors contributing to the net decrease include:

  • An increase to the employee benefit plans of $29,000;
  • A decrease of $136,000 related to the receipt of the reimbursement of eligible paylist expenditures in Q3 of 2014–2015;
  • A decrease of $38,000 related to the carry forward provision received in Q2 of 2015–2016 and;
  • A decrease of $245 for late fees.

As Table 1 indicates, the OIC’s total budgetary expenditures decreased by an amount of $195,000 or 8%, in the third quarter of 2015−2016, compared to the same period in 2014−2015. There were significant variances within elements of planned expenditures, as follows:

  • The decrease of $258,000 in Personnel expenditures is a result of less full time employees, due to more vacant positions in the 3rd quarter of 2015–2016 compared to 2014–2015;
  • The increase of $33,000 in Professional and Special Services is a result of additional litigation requiring external legal expertise and an increase in temporary help services for internal services; and
  • The increase of $30,000 in Rentals is a result of the timing of the receipt of invoices.

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 of access to information held by federal institutions is jeopardized.

In recent years, the OIC has constantly improved its processes. This has allowed the OIC to get sustainable results year after year despite budget constraints. However, significant and successive budget cuts have placed the OIC at the limit of its financial and organizational flexibility.

With the Budget 2012 implementation, the OIC budget has been permanently cut by $543,000 in 2014–2015 and all future years. The OIC has also been absorbing the majority of salary increases since 2012.

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.

With a Total Authority of less than $12 million in 2014–2015, the OIC fully utilized its limited resources, lapsing only $139,522. This Office has no financial flexibility to augment the investigative capacity. The OIC’s financial situation has a direct impact on its 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 third quarter of 2015–2016.

Approved by:

Suzanne Legault
Information Commissioner of Canada

Layla Michaud, LL.LCPACMAMBA
Acting Assistant Information Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer

Gatineau, Canada
December 31, 2015

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)

 

Fiscal year 2015 – 2016

Fiscal year 2014 – 2015

(In thousands of dollars)

Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2016Footnote 1 Used during the quarter ended December 31, 2015 Year-to-date used at quarter-end Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2015Footnote 2 Used during the quarter ended December 31, 2014 Year-to-date used at quarter-end

Vote 1: Program expenditures

10,076

2,207

6,584

10,251

2,410

7,520

Budgetary statutory authorities:
Contributions to employee benefit plans

1,332

333

999

1,303

325

977

Total budgetary authorities

11,408

2,540

7,583

11,554

2,735

8,497

Total Authorities

11,408

2,540

7,583

11,554

2,735

8,497

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

 

Fiscal year 2015 – 2016

Fiscal year 2014 – 2015

(In thousands of dollars)

Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2016

Expended during the quarter ended December 31, 2015

Year-to-date used at quarter-end

Planned expenditures for the year ending  March 31, 2015

Expended during the quarter ended December 31, 2014

Year-to-date used at quarter-end

Personnel

9,261

2,031

6,391

9,368

2,289

6,973

Transportation and communications

153

45

91

169

30

84

Information

61

26

64

111

8

38

Professional and special services

1,514

338

849

1,616

305

855

Rentals

257

64

107

129

34

134

Repair and maintenance

35

1

3

31

27

44

Utilities, materials and supplies

55

29

41

53

14

40

Acquisition of machinery and equipment

72

4

14

77

28

45

Other subsidies and payments

2

23

-

284

Total Budgetary Expenditures

11,408

2,540

7,583

11,554

2,735

8,497

Footnotes

Footnotes 1

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

Return to first footnote 1

Footnote 2

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

Return to first footnote 2