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Report Cards


Year


Royal Canadian Mounted Police

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 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP) progress, since the previous report, in coming into compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. In addition, this report contains information on the status of the recommendations made in the 2006 Status Report.

  1. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

The Office of the Information Commissioner conducted a first Report Card on the RCMP last year. The department was far from ideal compliance during that period of review. Thus, the RCMP has not been able to meet its obligations under the Access to Information Act to respond to access requests in a timely manner.

In 2004-2005, the department received 1,096 new access requests and carried over 144 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 1,240 access requests. Of the 1,240 access requests, 531 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 92 were carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 340 were carried over to the next fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation. The deemed-refusal ratio for 2004-2005 was 78%, resulting in an "F".

For the first eight months of 2005-2006, the department received 686 new access requests and carried over 430 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 1,116 access requests. By November 30, 2005, of the 1,116 access requests, 121 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 340 were carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 420 remained in a deemed-refusal situation at the end of the eight-month period. The deemed-refusal ratio for the first eight months of 2005-2006 was 79%, resulting in an "F".

 

3. CURRENT STATUS

For the reporting period April 1 to November 30, 2006, the RCMP’s deemed-refusal ratio was once again below standards. For the first eight months of 2006-2007, the RCMP received 566 new access requests and carried over 498 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 1,064. By November 30, 2006, out of the 1,064 requests, 423 were still outstanding from previous periods in deemed-refusal situations, and 125 remained in a deemed-refusal situation at the end of the eight-month period. Moreover, during this period, 143 files were completed beyond the statutory time limit where no extension was claimed. Out of the 77 requests extended pursuant to section 9, 22 were completed beyond the extended time limit. As a result, for the second year in a row, the RCMP receives a score of "F". In fact, this year’s score of 67% deemed-refusal ratio is more than three times the 20% "red alert" grade. This score is one of the most catastrophic scores since the Report Cards began.

We note that the RCMP failed to address most of last year’s recommendations. As a result, the RCMP is carrying over almost as many requests as it received during the same period. It is predictable that, because of this situation, the RCMP will still find itself in a "red alert" situation in next year’s report.

Last year, the department cited a lack of staff to explain its poor performance. A further 20 staff positions were allocated to the ATIP Office. By December 2006, none of these positions were staffed. In our view, a major reason for the continuing poor performance at the RCMP is the lack of Senior Management leadership.

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation #1

That the Commissioner of the RCMP take responsibility to ensure the implementation of our recommendations in the Report Cards and personally commit to guarantee that the department attains and maintains ideal compliance without further delay.

Recommendation #2

That the ATIPOfficers Reference Book be updated to document criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request, which could be used to provide requesters with information on how to formulate a clear access request.

Recommendation #3

That the ATIP Office develop a fee waiver policy for access requests and document the basis for its fee waiver decisions.

 

Recommendation #4

That the ATIP Officers Reference Book incorporate criteria to consider for treating an access request informally.

Recommendation #5

Where the RCMP consults with, or is consulted by, a department routinely, that it enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to cover each department’s responsibilities in the consultation process including the provision of rationales for claiming exemptions.

Recommendation #6

If an extended date will not be met, that the ATIP Office contact the requester to indicate it will be late, provide an expected response date, and inform the requester of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.

Recommendation #7

That the ATIP Office institute requirements in the ATIPOfficers Reference Book for consistent file documentation to record the actions and decisions taken to process an access requests.

Recommendation #8

That the ATIP Office include a requirement in the ATIPOfficers Reference Book to document the rationale for properly exercising discretion.

Recommendation #9

That the ATIP Office consider the use of contractors to provide additional processing resources for the short term, as part of the strategy to reduce the deemed-refusal situation.

Recommendation #10

That Senior Management initiate the development of an access to information vision that can be communicated to RCMP employees.

Recommendation #11

That the ATIP Office develop an ATI Operational Plan to support the departmental access to information vision and the ATI objectives.

 

Recommendation #12

That the ATIP Office develop an ATI Improvement Plan to eliminate the deemed-refusal situation, including a weekly report that provides information on access requests that are required to be completed at each stage in the request processing model, in order to proactively manage the deemed-refusal situation.

Due to the critical situation, we strongly believe it is imperative that an ATI Improvement Plan be developed.

Recommendation #13

That the ATIP Office update the ATIP Officer Reference Book.

Recommendation #14

That the ATIP Office develop and implement an ATI Training Plan.

Recommendation #15

That the ATIP Office review its use of ATIPflow to provide proactive management of ATIP administration, including routine reporting to Senior Management.

Recommendation #16

That the RCMP determine further categories of information that could be disclosed proactively.

5. status OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

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

Previous Recommendation #1.1

The ATIPOfficers Reference Book be updated to document criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. The department is still using the same reference book, which has not been updated. According to the former ATIP Coordinator, the RCMP receives many requests, the subjects of which are too diversified to properly document criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request. With all due respect for this opinion, many departments also receive diversified access requests and have proper documentation on criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

Previous Recommendation #1.2

The ATIP Office develop a fee waiver policy for access requests.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. According to the former ATIP Coordinator,the crisis situation in which the department finds itself prohibits the department from taking such action as all efforts are concentrated on the processing of access requests. In our respectful view, the RCMP finds itself in a crisis situation because it failed to develop proper procedures to assist staff in processing access requests. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #1.3

The ATIP Officers Reference Book incorporate criteria to consider for treating an access request informally.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #1.4

At intake, the ATIP Office have an experienced analyst review access requests to make an initial determination if the access request is a potential candidate for a time extension as well as institute control measures to ensure that any claim for a time extension is made within the 30-day time limit.

Action Taken:

The department followed this recommendation. However, the results are disappointing. Last year, the department received 686 requests during the period of April 1 to November 30. Out of these requests, only one was extended pursuant to section 9. This year, for the same period, the department received 566 requests, and 77 were extended pursuant to section 9. Out of these 77 requests, 22 were completed beyond the extended time limit. This means the department took numerous extensions of time compared to the previous year, but failed to meet the deadline 28.5% of the time.

Previous Recommendation #1.5

Where the RCMP consults with or is consulted by a department routinely, they enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to cover each department’s responsibilities in the consultation process including the provision of rationales for claiming exemptions.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

Previous Recommendation #1.6

If an extended date will not be met, the ATIP Office should contact the requester to indicate it will be late, provide an expected response date and inform the requester of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. According to the former ATIP Coordinator,it would be impossible to provide an expected response date due to the significant amount of files in deemed-refusal situations. The reality is that the department is so profoundly procrastinating that it will not even consider this simple task, which would alleviate some of the requester’s frustration. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #1.7

At intake, the ATIP Office have an experienced analyst review access requests to make an initial determination whether or not the access request is a potential candidate for a transfer to another institution, and institute control measures to ensure that any transfer is made within the 15-day time limit for all access requests that are to be transferred to another institution.

Action Taken:

The department followed this recommendation.

Previous Recommendation #1.8

The ATIP Office institute requirements in the ATIPOfficers Reference Book for consistent file documentation to record the actions and decisions taken to process an access request.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #1.9

The ATIP Office include a requirement in the ATIPOfficers Reference Book to document the rationale for exercising discretion.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

Previous Recommendation #2.1

The ATIP Office produce a monthly report that provides the ATIP Office and Senior Management at the RCMP with information on how well timelines are met when responding to access requests.

Action Taken:

The department partly followed this recommendation as a quarterly report is produced for Senior Management. However, there is no evidence that Senior Management acted to remedy the problems set out in the reports.

Previous Recommendation #2.2

The RCMP should come into ideal compliance with the Act’s deadlines no later than March 31, 2007.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Rather, it obtained the unprecedented score of 70% deemed-refusal ratio. It is estimated by the former ATIP Coordinator that he would require two years, with twice as many employees, to obtain this result. The department lost six experienced supervisors. It also failed to staff a single position.

Previous Recommendation #3.1

The ATIP Office consider the use of contractors to provide additional processing resources for the short term as part of the strategy to reduce the deemed-refusal situation.

Action Taken:

Only two consultants were hired at the time of completion of this report. The former ATIP Coordinator claims that it is difficult to retain consultants as the candidate for this position requires a good knowledge of investigation techniques and must possess a valid security clearance. Most departments have to process access requests requiring specialized knowledge; this problem is not unique to the RCMP. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #4.1

Senior Management initiate the development of an access to information vision that can be communicated to RCMP employees.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

Previous Recommendation #4.2

The ATIP Office develop an ATI Operational Plan to support the departmental access to information vision and the ATI objectives.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #4.3

The ATIP Office develop an ATI Improvement Plan to eliminate the deemed-refusal situation.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #4.4

The ATIP Office update the ATIP Officer Reference Book.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #4.5

The ATIP Office develop and implement an ATI Training Plan.

Action Taken:

According to the former ATIP Coordinator, the burden of work of the ATIP Officeprohibits the RCMP from providing training to employees. In our view, proper training would make employees more efficient. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #4.6

The ATIP Office review its use of ATIPflow to provide proactive management of ATIP administration, including routine reporting to Senior Management.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #5.1

The RCMP determine further categories of information that could be disclosed proactively.

Action Taken:

The department failed to follow this recommendation. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

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:

437

498

2.

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

347

423

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:

937

566

4.A

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

75

161

4.B

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

408

143

4.C

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

1-30 days:

54

68

31-60 days:

49

33

61-90 days:

32

9

Over 91 days:

273

33

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

18

77

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

4

38

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

0

22

6.C

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

1-30 days:

0

13

31-60 days:

0

5

61-90 days:

0

4

Over 91 days:

0

0

7.

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

125

 

EXCERPT FROM THE RCMP COMMISSIONER’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

"First, let me assure you that the RCMP is committed to providing the highest quality service to all Canadians in the exercise of their access to information rights and, to this end, I want to reiterate our strong commitment to continued cooperation with your office. I would like to note that since your last reporting period, our compliance rate, even though deficient, has improved significantly in comparison with the same time period last year.

… I will ensure that a closer examination of your identified recommendations is conducted by our ATIP Coordinator."