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Public Works and Government Services Canada  

Part A: Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year (2007-2008)
1. Number of requests carried over: 148
2. Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year— in a deemed-refusal situation on the first day of the new fiscal year 17
Part B: New Requests received in fiscal year 2008-2009— Exclude requests included in Part A
3. Number of requests received during the fiscal period 584
4.A How many were completed within the statutory 30-day time limit? 278
4.B How many were completed beyond the statutory 30-day time limit where no extension was claimed ? 5
4.C How long after the expiry of the statutory 30-day time limit did it take to complete the request where no extension was claimed ?  
  1-30 days: 3
  31-60 days: 2
  61-90 days: 0
  Over 91 days: 0
5. How many were extended pursuant to section 9? 289
6.A How many were completed within the extended time limit? 173
6.B How many exceeded the extended time limit? 8
6.C How long after the expiry of the extended deadline did it take to respond?  
  1-30 days: 4
  31-60 days: 1
  61-90 days: 0
  Over 91 days: 3
7. Number of requests carried over in 2009-2010? 121
8. As of April 1 st , 2009, how many requests are in a deemed-refusal situation? 3
Part C: Contributing Factors
9. Please describe the most significant issues that affected your institution’s ability to respond to access to information requests in a timely manner (within 30 days and/or statutory timelines). These may include:
  • Requests for large volume of records
  • Approval process of access requests
  • Difficulties to retrieve records (OPIs turnaround time)
  • Staff shortages
  • Requests filed in bulk
  • Consultations with other institutions
  • Others

As a result of the successful reduction of its backlog of late requests in the previous fiscal year, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) responded on time to 97.3% of the 584 access to information (ATI) requests received in 2008-2009. This achievement was challenged by the following significant issues that affected PWGSC’s ability to respond to ATI requests in a timely manner:  

Requests for large volume of records - The PWGSC ATIP Directorate completed 611 ATI requests in 2008-2009, totaling approx. 422,000 pages of records, for an average of 690 pages per request.  

Consultations with other institutions and third parties – Of the 584 requests received during the fiscal year, 289 needed to be extended in accordance with section 9 of the ATI Act. Due to the nature of PWGSC’s mandate, the records generally contain commercial and/or government sensitive information. As a result, many of the requests were extended pursuant to paragraphs 9(1)(b) and/or (c) of the Act, in order to undertake the necessary consultations with client departments and other third parties prior to disclosing the records.  

Consultations from other institutions – In addition to the ATI requests, the Department received 245 ATI consultations from other federal institutions in 2008-2009, amounting to another 28,000 pages of records. On average, PWGSC responded to the consultations within 25 days.  

Requests filed in bulk – In 2008-2009, 12 requesters filed ATI requests in bulk with the Department, submitting from 5 to 12 requests at the same time. Five of these requesters are frequent users of the ATI Act.  

Staff shortages – The PWGSC ATIP Directorate continued to experience high staff turnover during the review period. Although the office has hired seven new persons and initiated several competitions to increase its human resources capacity, the use of ATIP consultants (up to nine) was necessary in order to process ATI requests and consultations in a timely manner. Furthermore, the time needed to recruit and train new resources accounted for an investment of expertise that would have otherwise been dedicated to the processing of ATI requests, and thereby impacted productivity.

Please describe any practices or policies developed/undertaken by your institution to improve the timely delivery of your access to information program and where possible, indicate how successful these practices/policies have been. These may include:
  • Informal treatment of requests
  • Streamlined approval process
  • Partial release of records
  • Fast track process for common requests
  • Others

Streamlined approval process – An organizational review of the ATIP Directorate was conducted in 2008-2009 to achieve an efficient and effective organization. As a result, the Delegation of Authority has recently been revised allowing the ATIP Team Leaders to approve the release of routine/simple requests (all disclosed, and disclosed in part, only with exemptions under subsection 19(1) and 24(1) of the Act). This is streamlining the quality control process on these requests from two to one level, thereby reducing any bottleneck at the ATIP Manager level that was previously approving the disclosures.  

ATIP Delegation of Authority – The ATIP Delegation of Authority has also been revised to allow ATIP Officers to perform certain administrative functions under the ATI Act such as time extensions and consultations with third parties. It is expected that this approach will streamline operations and reduce processing times.  

Intake Unit – As a result of the organizational review conducted in 2008-2009, a new Intake Unit has recently been implemented to received and acknowledge new requests, obtain the relevant the records from OPI and prepare them (triage/scanning) for review by the ATIP Officers. This is expected to increase the productivity of the ATIP Officers whose time was used to perform these administrative duties.  

Fast track process for common requests – Whether or not a request has been received, call-ups for temporary help services are provided on a monthly basis to the ATIP Directorate to prepare for disclosure so the records can be made available in a timely fashion for the requesters.  

ATIP Consultants – Having a three-year contract in place since March 2008, with two different companies, has proven to be a great procurement tool to quickly obtain the help of ATIP consultants. Because of the challenge, and the volume of ATI requests, the use of consultants has been necessary to respond on time.  

Informal treatment of requests – Requests for information that could be disclosed in entirety may, with the requester’s consent, be referred to the appropriate branch to respond directly. For example, as per the PWGSC Supply Manual, Section 7F.706, the names of corporate bidders and the total amount of their bids may be disclosed informally after contract award. As well, when branches directly receive a request, they may determine in consultation with the ATIP Directorate whether to disclose the information informally, if the records do not contain any sensitive government or third party information, or personal information. The ATIP Directorate also provides the Department with an informal review of documents prior to the disclosure of information. It is difficult to indicate how successful these practices have been, as the ATIP Directorate does not compile statistics in this regard, except for the informal review of documents.  

Partial release of records – A partial release may be provided in cases where some of the records have been previously disclosed. Also, when possible, a partial release may be provided in cases with voluminous records and/or long time extensions.  

Release of records when ready – Beginning in 2008-2009, and when taking a time extension beyond 90 days, the ATIP Directorate began advising requesters that a response will be provided earlier than anticipated if the consultations and the document review are completed before the extended due date. Statistics show that records are released as soon as they’re ready. It is expected that this practice may result in a reduction of the time extension complaints.

Part D: Completion Time
11. What is the average completion time for all requests completed in 2008-2009?
  The average completion time for the 611 requests completed in 2008-2009 was 92 days. Of those, 287 requests (47%) were processed within the first 30 days.
Part E: Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act
12. Please attach your institution’s completed Report on the Access to Information (Form TBS/SCT 350-62) for the 2008-2009.