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Report Cards


Year


Transport 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 Transport Canada’s (TC) 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 January 2006.

  1. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

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

In early 2000, the Office of the Information Commissioner issued a Report Card on Transport Canada’s compliance with the statutory time requirements of the Access to Information Act. In the Report Card, the department received a red alert grade of "F" for its compliance with the statutory time requirements of the Access to Information Act. The grade represented a 30.6% new request to deemed-refusal ratio for access requests received from April 1 to November 30, 1999.

Some improvement was noted the following year. Between April 1 and November 30, 2000, the new request to deemed-refusal ratio was reduced to 23.7%, but still a grade of "F".

In January 2002, a further Status Report reviewed the progress of the department to come into compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act, since the January 2001 report. To the department’s credit at the time, a grade of "C", for the period April 1 to November 30, 2001, was attained. However, the grade dropped to a "D", for the fiscal year 2001-2002.

In January 2003, it was reported that TC had received a grade of "D" denoting below standard compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. This level of compliance slipped even further with the final statistics indicating a 29.9% ratio of deemed refusals in relation to requests received for the fiscal year 2002-2003.

In the Status Report of January 2004, the department continued to experience problems. The new request to deemed-refusal grading remained at a "D" level, although the ratio did improve marginally to 17.2%, for the period from April 1 to November 30, 2003.

In the 2005 Report Card, TC received a grade alert of "B", with a 7.2% request to deemed-refusal ratio for requests received from April 1 to November 30, 2004. This was the first year 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, TC received a grade of "B", with an 8.9% request to deemed-refusal ratio.

In the 2006 Report Card, TC maintained a grade of "B", with a deemed-refusal ratio of 9.2%, even though, for this reporting period, TC received 123 more requests than the previous year.

3. CURRENT STATUS

For the reporting period April 1 to November 30, 2006, the department’s level of compliance was 16.6%, a grade of "D".

During this period, TC received 968 requests. This is 301 more, a 50% increase in volume, from the previous year.

Other than the increase in the volume of access requests, some important factors, not under the control of the department, explain this draw back. These factors are described further in this report.

Over the last few years, the ATIP Division has worked at finding solutions in order to meet legislated timeframes. The Minister has delegated full authority under the Access to Information Act to the ATIP Coordinator’s position, and the ATI process has been streamlined and refined. Training awareness sessions continue to be given to employees throughout the department, and the ATIP advisors are being encouraged to contact requesters and keep them apprised of all developments related to their requests. Several performance reports are issued to the groups/regions as well as the ATIP Division, which increases accountabilities in the processing of ATI requests in a timely manner.

 

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Because of the factors described in this report, TC was not able to achieve 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.

Recommendation #2

That the department address the staffing shortfall of the ATIP Directorate with a view to increasing resources as required.

5. STATUS OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

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

Previous Recommendation #1

TC attain ideal compliance and a grade of "A" by March 31, 2007.

Action Taken:

TC should have been able to meet this goal, but was still faced with a staffing shortfall problem, a 50% increase in volume of access requests, and a greater volume of consultations being required during that period. This is addressed at Recommendation #1 of this year’s report.

Previous Recommendation #2

The department address the staffing shortfall of the ATIP Directorate with a view to increasing resources as required.

Action Taken:

TC was, and is, still faced with a staffing shortfall problem. Many employees were on extended leave at the same time and the onus was on the remaining staff to carry the additional workload.

Many attempts to staff positions were made during the current year. Competitions were made to staff PM-04 and PM-05 positions. Also, PM-03 and PM-05 positions were deployed. An attempt was also made to hire consultants to address the increasing volume of access requests, but a complaint was made to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal by a consultant who was not retained. Since November 9, 2006, the Tribunal made an order pursuant to subsection 30.13(3) of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal preventing the adjudication of the contract. This order significantly prohibited any short-term effort by the department to comply with the timeframes imposed by the Access to Information Act.

 

 

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:

87

146

2.

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

20

31

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:

901

968

4.A

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

640

688

4.B

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

26

48

4.C

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

1-30 days:

16

35

31-60 days:

5

10

61-90 days:

3

2

Over 91 days:

2

1

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

205

103

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

68

21

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

27

11

6.C

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

1-30 days:

13

5

31-60 days:

6

4

61-90 days:

4

2

Over 91 days:

4

0

7.

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

95

   

 

 

EXCERPT FROM DEPUTY MINISTER’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

"Please note that the department is committed to meeting is obligations under the Access to Information Act and is currently in the process of taking the necessary steps to meet the time requirements of the Act. In this regard, the department will endeavour to address the recommendations that were made in your report."