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Report Cards


Year


Public Works and Government Services Canada

Status report on access requests in a deemed-refusal situation

1. Background

Every department reviewed has been assessed against the following grading standard:

% of Deemed Refusals

Comment

Grade

0-5%

Ideal compliance

A

5-10%

Substantial compliance

B

10-15%

Borderline compliance

C

15-20%

Below standard compliance

D

More than 20%

Red alert

F

This report reviews Public Works and Government Services Canada’s (PWGSC) progress to attain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act, since the previous report. In addition, this report contains information on the status of the recommendations made in the Status Report of 2006.

2. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

The Office of the Information Commissioner has conducted Report Cards and status reviews on PWGSC on four occasions. The department has never come into ideal compliance during the period of our reviews. Therefore, PWGSC has not been able to meet its obligations under the Access to Information Act to respond to access requests in a timely manner.

In February 2003, the Office of the Information Commissioner issued a Report Card on PWGSC’s compliance with the statutory time requirements of the Access to Information Act. The Report Card contained a number of recommendations on measures that could be taken to reduce the number of requests in a deemed-refusal situation. In the 2003 Report Card, the department received a red alert grade of "F", with a 26.3% request to deemed-refusal ratio for access requests received from April 1 to November 30, 2002. PWGSC’s record slipped further to a ratio of 29.9%, for the fiscal year 2002-2003.

The department made considerable improvements in a number of areas. All of these initiatives led to a substantial turnaround in the deemed-refusal situation resulting in borderline compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. The new request to deemed-refusal ratio improved to 14.5%, for the period from April 1 to November 30, 2003, for a grade of "C".

In the 2005 Report Card, the department received a "below standard compliance" grade of "D", with a 17.7% request to deemed-refusal ratio for requests received from April 1 to November 30, 2004. This was the first year that requests carried over from the previous year, and the number of requests already in a deemed-refusal status on April 1, were taken into consideration.

For the full fiscal year 2004-2005, PWGSC received a grade of "D", with a 19.1% request to deemed-refusal ratio.

In the 2006 Report Card, PWGSC’s request to deemed-refusal ratio significantly fell from 19.1% to 7.3%, a grade of "B".

3. Current Status

For this reporting period of April 1 to November 30, 2006, the department request to deemed-refusal ratio was 9.7%, a grade of "B".

During the reporting period, PWGSC received 613 requests, 46 less than the previous year. However, the number of records increased by 5,329 in one year.

The most important problem for the department was employee turnover. Out of the 27 ATIP positions within PWGSC, 19 left during the current year. This represents a significant leadership problem that the new incoming ATIP Coordinator will have to address.

Attracting and retaining skilled staff is a significant challenge for departments as the demand for qualified employees far exceeds the supply. In order to respond to the skills shortage in the ATIP community, PWGSC has developed a framework for a development program to recruit individuals already within the Public Service and students currently part of the federal student work experience program. The objective of the program is to address immediate and mid-term shortages by recruiting post-secondary graduates, at the junior level, with the goal of preparing them to fill middle and senior ATIP officer roles.

The main goal is to recruit individuals at the PM-01 level and promote them to the PM-04 level within 3 years.

While interesting, the actual draft development program only projects to hire 8 individuals within a four-year period. This seems too little for the department’s needs.

In November 2005, the department hired 24 FTEs, 6 consultants and 1 student. At the same period in 2006, the department hired 22 FTEs, 4 consultants and 1 temporary aid.

 

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Because of the factors described in this report, PWGSC was not able to attain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act.

Recommendation #1

That the Deputy Minister take responsibility to ensure that the ATIP Office implement all of our recommendations in the Report Cards and status reviews to ensure that the department attains and maintains ideal compliance without further delay.

  1. STATUS OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations were made to support PWGSC’s continuing efforts to process requests within the time requirements of the Access to Information Act:

Previous Recommendation #1

That PWGSC obtain ideal compliance and a grade of "A" for the full 2005-2006 fiscal year and the following years.

Action Taken:

As described above, PWGSC failed to attain ideal compliance. This is addressed at Recommendation #1 in this year’s report.

 

 

6

. QUESTIONNAIRE AND STATISTICAL REPORT

 

Questionnaire for Statistical Analysis Purposes in relation to official requests

made under the Access to Information Act

Part A: Requests carried over from the prior fiscal period.

Apr. 1/05 to

Mar. 31/06

Apr. 1/06 to

Nov. 30/06

1.

Number of requests carried over:

187

211

2.

Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation on the first day of the new fiscal year:

51

23

Part B: New Requests - Exclude requests included in Part A.

Apr. 1/05 to

Mar. 31/06

Apr. 1/06 to

Nov. 30/06

3.

Number of requests received during the fiscal period:

834

613

4.A

How many were processedwithin the 30-day statutory time limit?

384

240

4.B

How many were processed beyond the 30-day statutory time limit where no extension was claimed?

10

6

4.C

How long after the statutory time limit did it take to respond where no extension was claimed?

1-30 days:

8

4

31-60 days:

1

2

61-90 days:

0

0

Over 91 days:

1

0

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

406

351

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

234

153

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

12

14

6.C

How long after the expiry of the extended deadline did it take to respond?

1-30 days:

9

11

31-60 days:

2

1

61-90 days:

0

2

Over 91 days:

1

0

7.

As of November 30, 2006, how many requests are in a deemed-refusal situation?

37

 

EXCERPT FROM DEPUTY MINISTER’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

"I am pleased with the significant improvements made by Public Works and Government Services Canada since your first report card in 2003. The department has now achieved a grade of "B" for a second consecutive year.

I acknowledge your recommendations that the department attain an ideal compliance grade of "A". Please rest assured that every effort will be made to work towards meeting this goal. We will continue to actively recruit and retain skilled staff, and consideration will be given to expand the departmental Access to Information and Privacy Development Program. The Access to Information and Privacy Directorate will also undertake an organizational review this year to determine whether sufficient resources are in place to meet the increasing workloads."