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I. Improving service delivery
Achieving efficiencies for faster and greater disclosure
In 2010–2011, we intensified our quest to reduce the inventory of complaints and maximize disclosure for the benefit of access requesters (see Chapter 1). We closed more than 2,000 cases for the second consecutive year. We improved the turnaround times, notably by completing more cases in fewer than nine months. This success results from the streamlining of our intake and early resolution processes over the last two years as well as from the implementation of clear procedures for triaging complaints and obtaining records from institutions.
Efforts to analyze our caseload and identify the most efficient case management strategies yielded good results again this year. We made full use of all the tools and powers at our disposal, including the conduct of formal inquiries and reports to heads of institutions with formal recommendations. Successful strategies included a portfolio approach through which we focused on specific institutions, and grouped complaints by source, topic or type of complaint. In most cases in which the complaint was well founded, we were able to negotiate a resolution, with requesters gaining access to additional or more complete information. Chapter 2 contains examples of cases that showcase the full range of these approaches.
In 2010–2011, we implemented Year 2 of our Three-Year Plan for report cards and systemic investigations. Our performance assessments highlighted outstanding results as well as concerns and challenges at institutions that had only recently come under the Act (see Chapter 3). We also followed up on the progress achieved by central agencies and individual institutions in implementing previous recommendations to address delay-related issues. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics called our report cards “an essential tool which allows parliamentarians to hold the government accountable”.
Working towards clear jurisprudence in favour of disclosure
An important role of the Information Commissioner is to bring forward and intervene in court cases to defend or clarify principles that underlie the fundamental right of access to government information, while contributing to the development of jurisprudence that favours disclosure. Of note in 2010–2010 was a case involving the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Information Commissioner. In it, the Federal Court confirmed the Commissioner’s authority to compel the production of documents. Another matter, between the Commissioner and the Canada Post Corporation, is currently before the Federal Court. The Court will be required to rule for the first time on the interpretation of the section 18.1 exemption, which protects the economic interests of certain Crown corporations. Chapter 4 contains brief summaries of these and other cases.
II. Catalyzing synergies for a leading access regime
Given increasing public expectations for transparency and openness, 2010–2011 presented the Information Commissioner with various opportunities to provide her views on the need and means to modernize the access regime. We assisted the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics in efforts to bring various initiatives together in an open government strategy and improved access regime. We collaborated with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to cultivate and share knowledge on challenges and best practices.
III. Exercising responsible and effective governance
We solidified our governance this year through talent management and employee engagement initiatives, and by providing an enabling and secure infrastructure, and obtaining feedback on business risks, processes and controls, while ensuring public accountability through clear and meaningful reporting. We also pursued strategic planning to ensure we had a guiding vision of what we need to achieve, with what resources and how to maximize their use. The development of a strategic plan as well as our success in maximizing the use and output of our limited resources under fiscal restraint represent our greatest governance achievements for 2010–2011.