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Report Cards

 

Year

 


Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Table of Contents

OVERVIEW

Background & Glossary of Terms

CHAPTER 1: The Access Request Process

CHAPTER 2: Deemed Refusals

CHAPTER 3: Resource Profile

CHAPTER 4: Leadership Framework

CHAPTER 5: Information Management Framework

CHAPTER 6: Complaint Profile

CHAPTER 7: Conclusion

List of Recommendations

Report Card Questionnaire

OVERVIEW

As part of the proactive mandate of the Information Commissioner of Canada’s Office (the Commissioner’s Office), each year a department (or departments) is selected for review and a Report Card is completed. The review is conducted to determine the extent to which the department is meeting its responsibilities under the Access to Information Act (the Act).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) administers the Access to Information Act through the Access to Information and Privacy Protection (ATIP) Division. The Director of the ATIP Division holds full delegated authority from the Head of the institution to make all decisions under the Act. The Deputy Minister, DFAIT, and Director General, Executive Services Bureau, also hold delegated authority for all sections of the Act, but the delegation is exercised by the Director on a day-to-day basis.

A critical component of the administration of the Actis the leadership role of the Access to Information (ATI) Coordinator and Senior Management in a department. Senior management exercises leadership by identifying access to information as a departmental priority and then acting upon this by providing the appropriate resources, technology, and policies. Together with the ATI Coordinator, it is important for Senior Management to create a culture of openness and access to departmental information. The ATI Coordinator is the departmental champion of access to information.

In 2005, DFAIT completed a third-party review of the ATIP function in the department. The review concluded that the importance of the ATIP function makes it one of the intrinsic priorities of the department. The review underlined the continuing non-compliance with access obligations as set out in the Act.

In response, the department developed an ATIP Business Plan 2005-2006 to 2007-2008 to implement both short and long-term measures to meet its obligations under the Act. The Plan has met with only modest success in reducing the deemed-refusal situation in the department. There must be a sustained effort to monitor and make adjustments to the Plan to ensure that a successful conclusion is reached and that the results are sustained in the future.

A report should be provided monthly to Senior Management to indicate progress on the Business Plan along with remedial measures where objectives were not achieved. This reporting will help to reduce any slippage in meeting commitments in the Plan.

This Report Card makes a number of recommendations that support the department's efforts to meet its obligations in the delivery of the ATI Program. These recommendations build on the ATIP Business Plan 2005-2006 to 2007-2008 in areas such as planning, staffing, management reporting focused on problem resolution, training, and comprehensive program documentation.

This Report Card assigns an overall grade to the department that signifies the extent to which the department is meeting its responsibilities under the Act. The grading system is described in Table 1.

Table 1: Grading System Used for this Report Card

Overall Grade Overall ATI Operations
A = Ideal
  • All policies, procedures, operational plan, training plan, staffing in place
  • Evidence of Senior Management support, including an ATI vision
  • Streamlined approval process with authority delegated to ATIP Coordinator
  • 5% or less deemed refusals
B = Substantial
  • Minor deficiencies to the ideal that can easily be rectified
  • 10% or less deemed refusals
C = Borderline
  • Deficiencies to be dealt with
D = Below Standard
  • Major deficiencies to be dealt with
F = Red Alert
  • So many major deficiencies that a significant departmental effort is required to deal with their resolution or many major persistent deficiencies that have not been dealt with over the years

On this grading scale, DFAIT rates a "D" for the first eight months of fiscal year 2006-2007. Its overall performance is Below Standard.

Background & Glossary of Terms

As part of the proactive mandate of the Commissioner’s Office, each year a department (or departments) is selected for review and a Report Card is completed. The review is conducted to determine the extent to which the department is meeting its responsibilities under the Act. The responsibilities and requirements can be set out in the Act or its Regulations, such as the timelines required to respond to an access request. Or, the responsibilities may emanate from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat or departmental policies, procedures, or other documentation in place to support the access to information process.

Fundamental to the access to information regime are the principles set out in the Purposes section of the Act. These principles are:

  • government information should be available to the public;
  • necessary exemptions to the right of access should be limited and specific;
  • decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

Previous Report Cards issued since 1999 have focused on the deemed refusal of access requests, the problems that may have led to the deemed refusals, and recommendations for eventually eliminating the problem. DFAIT had a Report Card issued in April 1999 with a yearly follow-up published in the Annual Report of the Information Commissioner of Canada. The 1999 Report is available at http://www.oic-ci.gc.ca/publications/cards-e.asp [link is no longer available].

In 2004-2005, the scope of the Report Cards was broadened. The scope of the Report Cards now seeks to capture an extensive array of data and statistical information to determine how an ATI Office and a department are supporting their responsibilities under the Act. Where the Commissioner’s Office identifies activities during the Report Card review that would enhance management and operation of the access to information process in a department, recommendations are made in the Report Card.

DFAIT administers the Act through the ATIP Division. The Director of the Division has fully delegated authority from the Head of the institution to make all decisions under the Act. There is no further delegation of authority to ATIP analysts in the ATI Office for making certain administrative decisions under the Act.

As part of the preparation of this Report Card, the ATIP Director was interviewed on January 3, 2007. In addition, 14 access request files completed during 2005-2006, and the first eight months of 2006-2007 were randomly selected and reviewed on January 10, 2007. The purpose of the file review is to determine if administrative actions taken to process an access request and decisions made about an access request are appropriately documented in the case file.

The ATIP Director submitted the Report Card Questionnaire included at the end of this Report Card to the Commissioner’s office. The Questionnaire provides statistical and other information on the administration of the Act in the department.

A Glossary of Terms for this Report Card is presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Glossary of Terms

Term Definition
ATI Coordinator (or ATIP Director or Coordinator) Each institution is required, by Treasury Board policy, to designate an official known as the Access to Information Coordinator. The Access to Information Coordinator is responsible for receiving access requests. Coordinators may also be delegated authority, from the Heads of institutions, to levy fees, claim extensions, give notices, and invoke exemptions. The scope of a Coordinator’s authority varies from institution to institution.
Complaint Findings The following categories are used by the Office of the Information Commissioner to identify the outcome of a complaint made to the Office under the Act:
  • Well-founded Complaints well-founded but not resolved, where the Commissioner sought consent from the requester to pursue the matter in Federal Court.
  • Resolved Well-founded complaints resolved by remedial action satisfactory to the Commissioner.
  • Not Substantiated Complaints considered not to be well-founded.
  • Discontinued Complaints discontinued, on request from the complainant, prior to a final resolution of the case.
Deemed Refusal The Act describes a deemed refusal as follows: 10.(3) Where the head of a government institution fails to give access to a record requested under this Act or a part thereof within the time limits set out in this Act, the head of the institution shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have refused to give access.
Extension Extensions to the initial 30-day time period to respond to an access request can be made in the following circumstances as described in the Act: 9(1) The head of a government institution may extend the time limit set out in section 7 or subsection 8(1) in respect of a request under this Act for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the circumstances, if: (a) the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution, (b) consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original time limit, or (c) notice of the request is given pursuant to subsection 27(1) by giving notice of the extension and, in the circumstances set out in paragraph (a) or (b), the length of the extension, to the person who made the request within thirty days after the request is received, which notice shall contain a statement that the person has a right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner about the extension.
Notice of Extension to Information Commissioner The Actrequires a notice to the Information Commissioner for extensions taken in excess of thirty days.
Office of Primary Interest (OPI) Office of primary interest or the location in a department responsible for the subject matter to which the access request relates.
Pending Unfinished requests or complaints:
  • Pending Previous Requests or complaints that were unfinished at the close of the previous fiscal year, and thus carried forward into the reporting period (the fiscal period indicated on the pie chart).
  • Pending at year-end Requests or complaints that are unfinished at the end of the reporting period (the subject fiscal year), which will be carried into the next fiscal period.
Third Party For purposes of the Act, any person, group of persons or organization other than the person that made an access request or a government institution.
Treasury Board Guidelines The Act is based on the premise that the Head of each government institution is responsible for ensuring that their institution complies with the Act, and for making any required decisions. There is also provision for a designated Minister to undertake the government-wide coordination of the administration of the Act. The President of the Treasury Board fulfills this role. One of the statutory responsibilities of the designated Minister is to prepare and distribute to government institutions directives and guidelines concerning the operation of the Act and its Regulations.

CHAPTER 1: The Access Request Process

The Act provides a processing framework for access requests. Any person (individual or corporation) who is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or present in Canada, may make an access request. The Act provides a department with certain processing timelines and allows for extensions under certain circumstances to the initial 30-day time limit to respond to an access request. When records contain information that is exempted from disclosure or excluded from the Act, a department may deny that information to a requester.

The Client

Requesters are categorized for statistical purposes. Government and departments use the statistics for various analytical purposes, including the identification of trends. The number of requesters by category and recent fiscal year time periods for DFAIT are illustrated in Charts 1 and 2.

DFAIT flags access requests in two ways. If communications material appears to be required as part of the access request disclosure process, a "Comm Alert MINA or MINT" is noted. If the Minister’s Office wants to have a copy of the disclosure package as part of the access request disclosure process, a "MINA, MINA/MINT or MINT Alert" is noted. The alerts are identified from a list, which is circulated weekly, of new access requests received by the department. Table 3 illustrates the number of access requests that were received and had an "alert" indicator.

Table 3: Access Requests Tagged as an Alert

Category Number of Requests
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Comm Alert 21 27
MINA Alert 102 189
Routine 324 165
Total Access Requests 447 381

In the first eight months of 2006-2007, 43% of the access requests received had a MINA Alert. The ATIP Director stated that the access request disclosure package that is sent to the Minister’s Office is treated in parallel with other parts of the access request processing. However, the time allocated in the access request processing model for this one step is 5 working days (and it takes an average of 5.2 days). In order to have an access request disclosure package distributed, the access request processing must be near completion, with only the final approval of the ATIP Director outstanding. There does not appear to be any value added or parallel steps in the access process while the access request disclosure package is in the Office of the Minister. Since the access request package will not be released to the requester until notification is received from the Minister’s Office, this review is a likely contributor to delays in responding to access requests beyond the statutory time requirements of the Act.

When an access request disclosure package is sent to senior officials in a department for information purposes, the usual practice is to note that it is being sent for that purpose and will be disclosed in 2 days. Otherwise, the practice becomes one of review and is a de facto approval.

Recommendation 1.1: That the review of access request disclosure packages by the Minister’s Office be conducted for information purposes, as originally intended, and that no more than two days be allotted for this purpose.

Request Clarification

The number of access requests that required clarification in 2005-2006 was 95 (21%) of the access requests completed. In the first eight months of 2006-2007, 92 (24%) of the access requests completed required clarification. The ATIP Division confirms in writing with the requester the content of a clarified access request almost always. There are no documented criteria to provide guidance on when to seek clarification. The Director of the ATIP Division stated that some of the circumstances for seeking clarification included a lack of time period for records requested, the absence of an application fee, and a vague topic for the access request.

Recommendation 1.2: That the ATIP Procedures Manual for the ATIP Division include criteria in the form of a checklist for clarifying or modifying an access request. The checklist could also be used to provide requesters with information on how to formulate a clear access request.

Pages Reviewed

The number of pages reviewed for access requests completed in 2005-2006 was 51,224, an average of 107 pages per request. Of the total number of pages reviewed, 32,340 pages (63%) were disclosed in total or in part to the requester. In the first eight months of 2006-2007, 51,977 pages, an average of 144 pages per request, were reviewed. Of the total number of pages reviewed, 18,576 (36%) were disclosed in total or in part to the requester.

The ATIP Division also receives consultations from other institutions on whether or not records that DFAIT has an interest in, or were created by DFAIT, may be released. In 2005-2006, the ATIP Division received 676 consultations and reviewed 66,676 pages. In the first eight months of 2006-2007, 32,446 pages were reviewed.

Fees Collected

In 2005-2006, the ATIP Division collected $7,677 for processing access requests. In the first eight months of 2006-2007, $5,400 was collected.

Although the department does not have a fee waiver policy, fee waivers amounting to an estimated $4,174 were recorded in 2005-2006, and further fee waivers amounting to an estimated $2,995 were recorded in the first eight months of 2006-2007.

While it is commendable that the department is waiving fees, without a written policy and in the absence of well-documented reasons, it was not possible to confirm that fee waiver decisions are taken fairly and in a consistent manner.

Recommendation 1.3: That the ATIP Division develop a fee waiver policy for access requests and document the basis for its fee waiver decisions.

Request Disposition

The ATIP Division reported a relatively high number of access requests that were either abandoned by the requester or the Division was unable to process. In 2005-2006, the disposition of 40% of the access requests processed was either "abandoned by the requester" or "unable to process". In the first eight months of 2006-2007, the percentage increased to 45%. This percentage is higher than the norm for government institutions.

The ATIP Director stated that the high number of requests in the unable to process category reflects access requests where no records existed. In the abandoned category, there was no documentation available to identify reasons for abandonment of an access request by a requester. Typical reasons cited by the Director for the abandonment of an access request were no response from the requester to a fee estimate or to clarify the access request. The ATIP Division will process access requests to a certain point (for example, a fee estimate) which contributes to the workload of the Division, even though the access request is abandoned.

Recommendation 1.4: That the ATIP Division review the abandoned access requests to identify the reasons for abandonment to determine if there could be changes to the access request processing procedures to reduce the number of abandoned access requests.

When an access request is to be treated informally, the requester will always be consulted. Criteria for treating an access request informally are contained in the ATIP Office Procedures Manual.

The ATIP Division also processed information requests outside the Act’s access request process. In 2005-2006, there were 69 requests for information processed informally while, in the first eight months of 2006-2007, there were 64 requests processed.

Time to Process Requests

The Act allows 30 calendar days (or 21 working days) without an extension for departments to process an access request. Departments will usually have a request processing model that allocates a portion of the 30 days to each departmental function that has a role in responding to access requests. An ATIP Division can then analyze the actual time taken by departmental functions against allocated time to determine if, where, and/or what improvements might be required when actual time exceeds allocated time.

The DFAIT ATIP Division has a request processing model that is based on 21 working days. The ATIP Division used ATIPflow to produce data on the average number of days taken to complete each departmental function’s role in the access request process. The numbers are all estimates, but do indicate trends. The statistics in Table 4 indicate that some OPIs are not adhering to their responsibility to provide records within certain timeframes to the ATIP Division. The processing model also indicates that the access request process contains "concurrence" steps that constitute de facto approvals.

Table 4: DFAIT Request Processing Model

Processing Model – Stages – All figures are estimates. s April 1/05 to Mar. 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Days Allocated Average Actual Days Days Allocated Average Actual Days
ATI intake (Registration of new requests) 1 - 1 -
OPI search (Tasking of new Requests) 5 working days 16.7 5 working days 10.3
Records review and preparation Note: No time was allocated in the process for this action, but DFAIT provided some data. - 8.7 - 10.44
Legal - - - -
Approval or otherwise – OPI Note:Number of OPI approvals sought 2 working days 8.5 (28.5%) 137/480 2 working days 7.47 (16%) 58/361
Communications Note: Number of COMM Alerts case files 2 working days 4.3 (3.3%) 16/480 2 working days 3.8 (6.9%) 25/361
Approval or otherwise – MO and number of requests when the MO was notified Note:Number of MINA/MINT Alert case files 5 working days 8.6 (9.6%) 89/480 5 working days 5.2 (25.8%) 99/361
ATI release (signoff by Director) 1 working day 2.5 1 working days 1
Total average of ATI process   49.4   38.4
Recommendation 1.5: That the ATIP Division produce 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.
Recommendation 1.6: The ATIP Division conduct an analysis of OPI response times for the 2006-2007 to determine which OPIs are not providing records to the ATIP Division on time, and incorporate measures for improving performance into the Business Plan.

The review/approval process for an access request disclosure package consists of the following steps:

  1. An ATIP analyst prepares the access request disclosure package with recommendations.
  2. In some cases, the access request disclosure package will be returned to the OPI (for the first eight months of 2006-2007, this occurred in 16% of access requests) for approval.
  3. If communications documentation is required, it will be prepared in parallel with the access request process.
  4. In some cases, the disclosure package will be provided to the Minister’s Office. Five days are allocated, and it is supposed to be completed in parallel with the access request process. It is doubtful that this step can be taken in parallel with the access request process. On the sixth working day, the access request release package will be "signed off" by the designated OPI official and then sent to the applicant by the ATIP Division.

Despite the fact that the ATIP Director has delegated authority to make decisions on the release of records, a "review" at a higher level can become a de facto "approval".

Recommendation 1.7: That the access request processing model be revised to eliminate review stages in the process and that any reviews be conducted in parallel to the access request process.
Recommendation 1.8: That the access request processing model be revised to conform with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act.

Extensions Profile

Subsection 9(1) of theAct provides circumstances when the initial 30-day response time to an access request may be extended. These circumstances are:

  • the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution;
  • consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original time limit;
  • notice of the request is given pursuant to subsection 27(1) [to a third party who may have an interest in the disclosure of a record or part of a record].

The ATIP Division almost always sends the notice of the extension under subsection 9(1) of the Act to the requester within the initial 30-day response time and, where required, always sends a copy of the notice to the Commissioner’s Office. When it is unlikely that an extended date will be met under paragraphs 9(1)(a) and (b), the requester will be contacted some of the time. Some of the time, the requester will be told of an expected new response date or that the requester has a right to complain to the Information Commissioner. DFAIT had 29 time extensions for a search for a large volume of records for completed access requests in 2005-2006, and 56 extensions for the first eight months of 2006-2007.

DFAIT had 20 consultations with other institutions or organizations in 2005-2006, and this increased to 113 consultations for the first eight months of 2006-2007. Section 69 of the Act deals with records excluded from coverage of the Act that are confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada. Departments consult with the Privy Council Office’s Legislation and House Planning/Counsel Secretariat to determine whether or not the exclusion applies to records. DFAIT consulted with the Privy Council Office six times in 2005-2006, and a further 14 times during the first eight months of 2006-2007.

In 2005-2006, DFAIT consulted with seven third parties. The consultations increased to 18 for the first eight months of 2006-2007. In approximately 50% of the third-party consultations, the time requirements set out in section 27 of the Act were not met.

Recommendation 1.9: That the ATIP Division conduct an analysis of the third-party notices that did not meet the time requirements of section 27 of the Access to Information Act to determine if measures can be instituted to reduce the number of consultations that do not meet the Access to Information Act’s time requirements.

Transfer Profile

In 2005-2006, 12 access requests were transferred to other institutions. In the first eight months of 2006-2007, five access requests were transferred to other institutions. All transfers occurred as required within 15 days of the receipt of the access request.

Claims for Exemptions

The ATIP Director stated that the Division has a documented exemption challenge function for exemption rationales prepared by OPIs. However, because the exemption rationale may be obvious to DFAIT personnel, the rationale may not be documented on the access request file. The exemption challenge function is documented in the Work Description of ATIP Division Team Leaders.

A random group of 14 completed access request files closed between April 1, 2005 and November 30, 2006, were reviewed. The review indicated that:

  • the rationale for claiming exemptions was usually not documented;
  • there was usually no documentation to indicate whether or not the department exercised discretion properly in deciding whether to claim a discretionary exemption;
  • in cases where there was a mandatory exemption, there was no documentation to indicate that the department took into account exceptions permitting disclosure of the information – for example, paragraphs 13(2), 19(2), 20(2), 20(4), 20(5), and 20(6);
  • where consultations with other departments occurred, the other department would merely cite sections of the Act in claiming an exemption. Despite the absence of supporting rationale provided by the consulted institutions, their recommendations for exemptions were accepted by DFAIT.

On a positive note, the review indicated that:

  • ATIPflow was used to its full extent to record summaries of actions or events;
  • where a rationale for claiming an exemption was on file, the documentation was excellent, and the documentation by inference covered why discretion was exercised in favor of exemption or disclosure.
Recommendation 1.10: That the ATIP Division institute requirements in the ATIP Procedures Manual for documenting the rationale for claiming all exemptions, for the exercise of discretion, for the consideration of exceptions to mandatory exemptions, and for challenging unsupported recommendations made by consulted institutions.

CHAPTER 2: Deemed Refusals

Since Canadians have a right to timely access to information (i.e., 30 days or within extended times under specified conditions), a delayed response is equivalent to a denied response. Parliament articulated this "timeliness" requirement in subsection 10(3) of the Act, which states:

Where the Head of a government institution fails to give access to a record requested under this Act or a part thereof within the time limits set out in this Act, the head of the institution shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed to have refused to give access.

As a result, the Information Commissioner has adopted the following standard as being the best measure of a department’s compliance with response deadlines (percentage of requests received which end as deemed refusals):

Table 5: Deemed Refusals

% 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

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

In 2005-2006, the department received 447 new access requests and carried over 163 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 610 access requests. Of the 610 access requests, 162 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 108 were carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 39 were carried over to the next fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation. The deemed-refusal ratio for 2005-2006 was 50.2%, resulting in an "F" on the grading scale.

For the first eight months of 2006-2007, the department received 382 new access requests and carried over 131 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 513 access requests. By November 30, 2006, of the 513 access requests, 24 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 39 were carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 25 remained in a deemed-refusal situation at the end of the eight month period. The deemed-refusal ratio for the first eight months of 2006-2007 was 17.2%, resulting in a "D" on the grading scale. This is a very significant improvement from the previous fiscal year.

The following Charts 3 and 4 illustrate the backlog of access requests in a deemed-refusal situation at the start of each fiscal year.

At the start of 2005-2006, DFAIT had 163 pending access requests, with 108 (66%) in a deemed-refusal situation.

For 2006-2007, DFAIT started the year with 131 pending access requests, with 39 (30%) in a deemed-refusal situation. The department has made significant progress in reducing the backlog and is encouraged to continue the measures taken this fiscal year.

Recommendation 2.1: That the ATIP Division produce a monthly report to augment its Senior Management reporting that provides the ATIP Director and senior management with: a) information on how well timelines are met in the access request processing model; and b) an analysis of what is causing deemed refusals, along with recommendations to eliminate the causes.
Recommendation 2.2: 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.

CHAPTER 3: Resource Profile

Employee Profile

The processing of access requests is the responsibility of the ATIP Division under the direction of the ATIP Director. The ATIP Division is also responsible for processing requests under the Privacy Act. The ATIP Division:

  • offers training;
  • participates in various working groups;
  • reviews records (which originated from DFAIT) from other departments for claims for exemptions;
  • is responsible for consultations received from other government institutions to confirm whether records that are relevant to a request originating with a foreign government or international organization were provided in confidence or that the release of the information without their consent could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs;
  • provides ATI policy advice.

The staff of the ATIP Division allocated to ATI and all other activities is comprised of 33 positions (many are vacant due to a shortage of ATIP resources in the federal government to recruit) (see Employee Profile at Section 3.1 of the Report Card Questionnaire which follows).

The ATIP Director is of the view that the number of staff positions is sufficient to meet the ATI processing needs of the department, although staffing vacant positions has been a persistent problem that has contributed to the deemed-refusal situation.

Budget

The salary budget for 2005-2006 for the ATIP Division was $815,201, and 20 full-time equivalents (FTEs) were used. The ATI salary budget for 2004-2005 was $679,290, with a utilization of 15.6 FTEs. The 2003-2004 budget was $563,239 for 11 FTEs.

Contractors have been used extensively by the ATIP Division to assist with access request processing. In 2005-2006, $600,000 from the operating budget was used for consultants to process access requests. The amount for 2004-2005 was $276,891 and for 2003-2004 was $269,865.

The ATIP Division operating budget for 2005-2006 was $1,209,730. The ATIP operating budget for 2004-2005 was $326,640. For 2003-2004, the ATIP operating budget was $236,261.

The portion of the budget allocated for training is not identified as a separate amount, but is included in the operating budget.

Recommendation 3.1: That DFAIT develop a strategy to fill vacant ATIP positions.

CHAPTER 4: Leadership Framework

A critical component of the administration of the Actis the leadership role of the ATI Coordinator and senior management in a department. Senior Management exercises leadership by identifying access to information as a departmental priority and then acting upon this by providing the appropriate resources, technology, and policies. Together with the ATI Coordinator, it is important for Senior Management to create a culture of openness and access to departmental information. The ATI Coordinator is the departmental champion of access to information. In this respect, the Coordinator and the staff provide the skilled policy and procedural leadership and training in order for the access process to work effectively in a department.

DFAIT has in place a departmental access to information vision that is part of the operational plan for the ATIP Division. The operational plan was developed as a result of a Review of the Access to Information – Privacy Protection Function completed in March 2005 by the Office of the Inspector General, Evaluation Division.

The ATIP Business Plan 2005-2006 to 2007-2008 was developed in response to the review. Senior Management at DFAIT approved the Business Plan. Of note, the Business Plan included the addition of 15 incremental FTEs (partially offset be a reduction in the use of consultants) to make, for example, improvements to the organizational culture, ATIP processes, acquisition and use of equipment and technology, methods of screening records, information management practices, and the processing of documents for litigation. The chief factor in delaying progress with the implementation of the Business Plan has been an inability to recruit skilled individuals for vacant ATIP positions. A recommendation concerning resources has been made in another section of this Report Card. A report should be provided monthly to Senior Management in order to indicate progress on the Business Plan along with remedial measures where objectives were not achieved. For example, a Business Plan milestone missed in 2005-2006 was the yearly reinforcement from the Deputy Minister to senior officials of the department’s obligations and commitments to comply with the statutory requirements of the Act.

Recommendation 4.1: That Senior Management initiate the development of an ATIP Business Plan 2008-2009 to 2010-2011 to support the maintenance and improvement of achievements to reduce the deemed-refusal situation in the department.
Recommendation 4.2: Senior Management receive a monthly report on the progress on the ATIP Business Plan along with remedial measures where objectives were not achieved.

The Director holds full delegated authority from the Head of the institution to make all decisions under the Act. DFAIT should review additional delegation within the ATIP Division for at least routine decision-making on administrative matters, such as fee estimates and time extensions, by revising the Delegation Order.

Recommendation 4.3: That DFAIT review further delegation of at least routine decision-making under the Access to Information Act in the ATIP Division.

There is no published ATIP manual for departmental staff. In lieu of a manual, the ATIP division has email templates that are provided to OPIs when an access request is received. The emails contain various links to other information that describe the access request process, responsibilities for request processing, and resources on the interpretation of the Act. This information (or a subset) should be made available to all employees of DFAIT, so that employees are aware of their responsibilities under the Act.

The ATIP Division maintains an ATIP Procedures Manual for ATIP Division staff. The Manual has not been updated since 2003. This Manual should be updated so that all ATIP Division staff are provided with the same information on the Act. This is particularly important when vacant positions are filled on a developmental basis. In addition, a number of legislative changes have recently been made that need to be reflected in the Manual.

Recommendation 4.4: That the ATIP Division extend electronic access to information on the Access to Information Act to all DFAIT employees.
Recommendation 4.5: That the ATIP Division update the ATIP Procedures Manual on an annual basis.

The ATIP Division does not have training plans for all ATIP Division staff and DFAIT staff. Training is conducted on an ad hoc basis. There should be an annual assessment of training needs and, from that assessment, an annual ATI Training Plan should be developed and delivered.

The ATIP Division is implementing ATIPimage. ATIPimage scans pages retrieved in response to an access request. An ATIP officer can then review and prepare information on the electronic record for disclosure or non-disclosure.

The ATIP Division uses ATIPflow, but that technology, as developed, is not used to its full advantage as a proactive management tool. Generally, at DFAIT, the use of ATIPflow is limited to statistical reporting. Monthly management reports should be focused on the identification and resolution of problems in the access request processing system. For example, the current reports note the deemed-refusal rate for the department, but the reports do not indicate whether this is a localized OPI(s) problem, or a generalized department-wide problem. A recommendation has been made in a previous section of this Report Card on management reporting.

Recommendation 4.6: That the ATIP Division develop an annual Training Plan based on a needs assessment.

CHAPTER 5: Information Management Framework

The Act relies on records being created or received, indexed, and filed in a way that they are readily retrievable. This applies to both paper and electronic records.

DFAIT is to be commended on its initiative and progress in screening records that are destined for permanent storage at Library and Archives Canada. Under this initiative, DFAIT screens records to determine whether or not information in the records is exempted from disclosure or excluded under the Act. Otherwise, the records are available to the public. Since the inception of this initiative, approximately 750,000 pages have been reviewed.

DFAIT is implementing the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on the Management of Government Information. DFAIT introduced the Records, Document, and Information Management System (RDIMS) and an associated Information Management Improvement Program. Departmental staff are trained on their responsibilities as custodians of departmental information. Existing Records Disposition Authorities cover approximately 95% of departmental records.

DFAIT has undertaken a number of activities to provide access to information using alternative methods. One example of such an activity is the routine disclosure on an informal basis of Quarterly Reports on Incidents of Foreign Diplomats. This, and other activities, are seen as providing proactive and transparent disclosure of information. Other routine disclosure activities to date include the routine disclosure of travel and hospitality expenses for selected government officials, contracts entered into by DFAIT for amounts over $10,000 (with only limited exceptions such as national security), the reclassification of positions, and, most recently, the disclosure of grants and contributions for amounts over $25,000 (with limited exceptions similar to those applying to contracts) by posting the information periodically on the DFAIT website. The information may be viewed at http://www.international.gc.ca/department/disclosure/menu-en.asp. The department is encouraged to investigate what other information might be proactively disclosed.

Recommendation 5.1: That DFAIT, as part of the renewal of the Information Management Program, identify additional categories of information that could be disclosed proactively.

CHAPTER 6: Complaint Profile

The Commissioner’s Office completed the investigation of 48 complaints made against DFAIT under the Act in 2005-2006. For the first eight months of 2006-2007, a further 28 complaint investigations were completed. Charts 5 and 6 illustrate the reasons why the complaints were made by a requester for complaints received for the period.

The deemed-refusal complaints against DFAIT constituted 52% of the complaint workload for DFAIT at the Commissioner’s Office in 2005-2006. For the first eight months of 2006-2007, the percentage increased to 75%.

CHAPTER 7: Conclusion

This Report Card makes a number of recommendations for ATI operations in DFAIT. Of particular note, an essential component in the administrative framework to support the operation of the Act is the development of an ATI Operational or Business Plan. To its credit, DFAIT has a three-year business plan and an ATIP vision incorporated into the Plan. The department should start to develop its next ATIP three-year plan to sustain and build on its achievements.

DFAIT has an ATIP Business Plan 2005-2006 to 2007-2008. The chief factor in delaying progress with the implementation of the Business Plan has been an inability to recruit skilled individuals for vacant ATIP positions. There is a government-wide shortage of needed skills, and DFAIT will have to be proactive in developing a strategy and plan for the recruitment of resources for the ATIP Division.

A report should be provided monthly to Senior Management to indicate progress on the Business Plan along with remedial measures where objectives were not achieved. This reporting will help to reduce the slippage in meeting commitments in the Plan.

Other recommendations in the Report Card focus on the need to have:

  • up-to-date policies and procedures in place to support the administration of the Act. Up-to-date, comprehensive documentation to promote consistent decision-making by individuals with responsibilities in the operations supporting the Act ;
  • staffing strategies to alleviate a chronic shortage of skilled staff to recruit;
  • management reporting focused on problem resolution.

The ATIP Business Plan 2005-2006 to 2007-2008 is a good example of planning to resolve and proactively manage the ATIP function. The department is encouraged to meet its commitments in the Plan.

List of Recommendations

The following is a list of recommendation by chapter.

Chapter 1: The Access Request Process

Recommendation 1.1: That the review of access request disclosure packages by the Minister’s Office be conducted for information purposes, as originally intended, and that no more than two days be allotted for this purpose.
Recommendation 1.2: That the ATIP Procedures Manual for the ATIP Division include criteria in the form of a checklist for clarifying or modifying an access request. The checklist could also be used to provide requesters with information on how to formulate a clear access request.
Recommendation 1.3: That the ATIP Division develop a fee waiver policy for access requests and document the basis for its fee waiver decisions.
Recommendation 1.4: That the ATIP Division review the abandoned access requests to identify the reasons for abandonment to determine if there could be changes to the access request processing procedures to reduce the number of abandoned access requests.
Recommendation 1.5: That the ATIP Division produce 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.
Recommendation 1.6: That the ATIP Division conduct an analysis of OPI response times for the 2006-2007 to determine which OPIs are not providing records to the ATIP Division on time, and incorporate measures for improving performance into the Business Plan.
Recommendation 1.7: That the access request processing model be revised to eliminate review stages in the process and that any reviews be conducted in parallel to the access request process.
Recommendation 1.8: That the access request processing model be revised to conform with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act.
Recommendation 1.9: That ATIP Division conduct an analysis of the third-party notices that did not meet the time requirements of section 27 of the Access to Information Act to determine if measures can be instituted to reduce the number of consultations that do not meet the Access to Information Act’s time requirements.
Recommendation 1.10: That the ATIP Division institute requirements in the ATIP Procedures Manual for documenting the rationale for claiming all exemptions, for the exercise of discretion, for the consideration of exceptions to mandatory exemptions, and for challenging unsupported recommendations made by consulted institutions.

Chapter 2: Deemed Refusals

Recommendation 2.1: That the ATIP Division produce a monthly report to augment its Senior Management reporting that provides the ATIP Director and senior management with: a) information on how well timelines are met in the access request processing model; and b) an analysis of what is causing deemed refusals along with recommendations to eliminate the causes.
Recommendation 2.2: 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.

Chapter 3: Resource Profile

Recommendation 3.1: That DFAIT develop a strategy and plan to fill vacant ATIP positions.

Chapter 4: Leadership Framework

Recommendation 4.1: That Senior Management initiate the development of an ATIP Business Plan 2008-2009 to 2010-2011 to support the maintenance and improvement of achievements to reduce the deemed-refusal situation in the department.

Recommendation 4.2: That Senior Management receive a monthly report on the progress on the ATIP Business Plan along with remedial measures where objectives were not achieved.

Recommendation 4.3: That DFAIT review further delegation of at least routine decision-making under the Access to Information Act in the ATIP Division.

Recommendation 4.4: That the ATIP Division extend electronic access to information on the Access to Information Act to all DFAIT employees.

Recommendation 4.5: That the ATIP Division update the ATIP Procedures Manual on an annual basis.

Recommendation 4.6: That the ATIP Division develop an annual Training Plan based on a needs assessment.

Chapter 5: Information Management Framework

Recommendation 5.1: That DFAIT, as part of the renewal of the Information Management Program, identify additional categories of information that could be disclosed proactively.

EXCERPT FROM DEPUTY MINISTER’S REPONSE TO REPORT CARD

The Deputy Minister did not provide comments regarding the findings and recommendations but only commented on a few inaccuracies in the report.

Report Card Questionnaire

Department: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Completed by: Mme Jocelyne Sabourin

Title: Director

Date: 15 December 2006 (revised)

1. ACCESS REQUEST PROCESS

1.1 THE REQUESTER

1.1.1 Profile of Requester

Source Number of Requests
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Media 102 149
Academia 12 9
Business 80 44
Organization 38 33
Public 215 146
Other N/A N/A
Total 447 381

1.1.2 Request Categorization

Are requests categorized in any manner (i.e., sensitive, routine, etc.)?
Yes X No  

If Yes, please list and define the categories and if possible indicate the number of access requests in each category.

Category Definition of Category Number of Requests
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Comm Alert MINA ATI requests identified by the Communications Office (BCM/BCF) which might require communication products (Foreign Affairs only) 21 26
Comm Alert MINT ATI requests identified by the Communications Office (BCM/BCF) which might require communication products (International Trade only) 0 1
MINA Alert ATI requests identified by the Minister’s Office which might require communication products (Foreign Affairs only) 87 126
MINA/MINT Alert ATI requests identified by the Minister’s Office which might require communication products (combined interest for Foreign Affairs /International Trade) 0 23
MINT Alert ATI requests identified by the Minister’s Office which might require communication products (International Trade only) 15 40
Routine FAC ATI requests sent to Foreign Affairs only 255 126
Routine FAC/ITCan ATI requests sent to Foreign Affairs and International Trade 3 23
Routine ITCan ATI requests sent to International Trade only 66 16
1.1.2.1 – If yes, who makes the determination of the category?
The determination of the categories was made by the Minister’s Offices, Communications and the ATIP Coordinator

1.1.3 Request Clarification

1.1.3.1 – Access requests where clarification was sought April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Number of Requests 95 92
1.1.3.2 – Are there documented criteria for seeking clarification?
Yes X No  

If Yes, please provide a copy of the documented criteria with the completed questionnaire. Ref. ATIP Office Procedures Book dated September 2003, Part A, Tab 7 and Part B - Tab 1

1.1.3.3 – If a request is clarified or modified, does the ATI Office confirm, in writing, its understanding of the revised request? (Please provide any guidelines followed in this regard with the completed questionnaire.) Ref. ATIP Office Procedures Book dated September 2003 , Part A, Tab 7 and Part B – Tab 1
Always   Almost always X Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.1.4 Client Service

1.1.4.1 – Disclosure to Requester Number
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Pages reviewed 51,224 51,977
Pages disclosed in total or in part 32,340 18,576
1.1.4.2 – Consultations Number
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Pages received for consultation 66,676 32,446
1.1.4.3 – If a request is almost one year old, does the ATI Office notify the requester about section 31, and the one-year limitation on the right to complain from the time the request is made? (Please attach any written guidelines you follow in this regard.)
Always   Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never X
1.1.4.4 – Fees Collected – All figures are an estimate. Number/Amount
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Amount of application fees collected $2,590.00 $1,845.00
Amount of photocopying fees collected   $ 134.40
Amount of search fees collected $4,552.00 $3,420.80
Amount of preparation fees collected $535.40  
Amount of programming fees collected    
Total $7,677.40 $ 5,400.20
1.1.4.5 – Does the department ever waive fees?
Yes X No  

If Yes, please provide the following details:

1.1.4.5.1 – Fees Waived All figures are an estimate. April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 toNov. 30/06
Number of Fee Waivers Sought Number of Fee Waivers Granted Amount Waived Number of Fee Waivers Sought Number of Fee Waivers Granted Amount Waived
Application Fee     $105.00 est.     $45.00 est.
Search Fee     $600.00 est.     $1,200. est.
Preparation Fee     $1,734.92 est.     $875.30 est.
Photocopy Fee     $1,734.93 est.     $875.30 est.
Total     $4,174.85     $2,995.60
1.1.4.5.2 – Does the department have a written fee waiver policy?
Yes   No X

Comment: In practice, fees are waived when the request falls late. Application fees can also be waived when the ATI Request is treated informally. For all informal requests, there are no reproduction fees required.

If Yes, please provide a copy of the policy with the completed questionnaire.

1.1.4.6 – If the $5.00 application fee is not included with an access request and if the request concerns a matter under the Privacy Act, is the requester consulted on which Act to process the request under?
Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.1.5 Request Disposition

Disposition of Completed Requests For the Period Number of Requests
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
All disclosed 69 57
Disclosed in part 179 117
Nothing disclosed (excluded) 4 5
Nothing disclosed (exempt) 11 2
Transferred 12 13
Unable to process 99 55
Abandoned by applicant 93 107
Treated informally 12 5
Total completed 479 361
Carried forward 131 152

The Department also processes information requests informally, outside the Access Act without reproduction fees. They are accounted separately as follows:

Informal Requests Processed For the Period Number of Requests
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
  69 64
1.1.5.1 – If access requests are categorized as unable to process or abandoned by applicant, is the requester notified in writing?
Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.1.6 Informal Treatment of Requests

1.1.6.1 – If access requests are treated informally, is this done in consultation with the requester?
Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  
1.1.6.2 – Are there documented criteria for treating an access request informally?
Yes X No  

If Yes, please provide a copy with the completsed questionnaire. Ref. ATIP Office Procedures Book dated September 2003, Part B, Tab 9.

1.2 REQUEST PROCESSING

1.2.1 Time to Process Requests

Processing Model – Stages – All figures are an estimate. April 1/05 to Mar. 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Days Allocated Average Actual Days Days Allocated Average Actual Days
ATI intake (Registration of new requests) 1 - - -
OPI search (Tasking of new Requests) 5 working days 16.68 5 working days 10.32
Records review and preparation No time was allocated in the process for that action but we were able to come out with some figures. - 8.67 - 10.44
Legal - - - -
Approval or otherwise – OPI NOTE:Number of OPI approval sought 2 working days 8.5 (28.5%) 137/480 2 working days 7.47 (16%) 58/361
Communications NOTE:Number of COMM Alerts case files 2 working days 4.31 (3.3%) 16/480 2 working days 3.84 (6.9%) 25/361
Approval or otherwise – MO and number of requests when the MO was notified NOTE:Number of MINA \MINT Alert case files 5 working days 8.6 (9.6%) 89/480 5 working days 5.2 (25.8%) 99/361
ATI release (signoff by Director) 1 working day 2.49 1working days 1
Total average of ATI process   49.35   38.37
Improvement of 10.98 days over FY 2005-2006
      1. Extensions Profile

1.2.2.1 When extensions are necessary under subsection 9(1), are notices sent to the requester within 30 days?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.2.2.2 When notice is sent under paragraphs 9(1)(a) and/or (b) extending the time limit for more than thirty days, how often is a copy of the notice sent to the Office of the Information Commissioner?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.2.2.3 Following an extension, if it is unlikely that the extended date will be met, does the ATI Office contact the requester to indicate:

a) The response will be late

Always   Almost always   Sometimes X Rarely   Never  

b) Of an expected date for the final response

Always   Almost always   Sometimes X Rarely   Never  

c) Of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner

Always   Almost always   Sometimes X Rarely   Never  

The ATIP Office has developed an Apology Letter, which advises applicants that the request is late, along with an expected response date. It does not provide a reminder regarding the right to complaint to the Information Commissioner. This letter was used

36 times in FY 05/06 and 4 times in 2006.

1.2.2.4 Extensions under Paragraph 9(1)(a) All figures are an estimate. Number of Extensions
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
For volume (search for large number of records) 30 days and under 8 27
For volume (search for large number of records) 31 days and over 21 29
For volume (search through large number of records) 30 days and under - -
For volume (search through large number of records) 31 days and over - -

1.2.2.5 If consultations are necessary under paragraph 9(1)(b), are these sent out as soon as the need has been identified?

Always   Almost always X Sometimes   Rarely   Never  
1.2.2.6 Extensions under Paragraph 9(1)(b) ****All figures are estimated. Number of Extensions
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
For consultation with another institution 19 88
For consultation with domestic government 1 23
For consultation with foreign government 0 2
For consultation with individual 0 0
For consultation for section 69 6 14

1.2.2.7 If a request concerns third party records and consultations are necessary, are consultations taken under paragraph 9(1)(c)?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.2.2.8 If a request concerns third party records and consultations are necessary, are consultations taken under paragraph 9(1)(b)?

Always   Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely X Never  

1.2.2.9 Are third-party notices sent as soon as the need for the notice is identified?

Always   Almost always X Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

1.2.2.10 When notice is sent under paragraph 9(1)(c), how often is a copy of the notice sent to the Office of the Information Commissioner?

Always   Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely X Never  

1.2.2.11 Is the third party timing process (as set out in section 28) observed?

Yes X No  

If No, please provide comments.

25 calendar days provided for S 44 notices

1.2.2.12 Does the ATI Office provide a partial release of the requested records for portions of the request that are not involved in the consultation process under paragraphs 9(1)(b) and/or 9(1)(c)? (9 times for FY 05/06 over 480 ATI closed and 8 times over 36l ATI closed for 2006).

Always   Almost always   Sometimes X Rarely   Never  
1.2.2.13 Notification under Paragraph 9(1)(c) All figures are an estimate. April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Number of requests where third party consulted 7 18
Average length of time to receive representations from third parties Est. 14 days Est. 25 days
Average length of time to make a decision after receipt of representations from third parties Est. 19 days Est. 14 days
Number of notices under section 27 8 23
Number of notices for which section 27 time frame was not met 4 11
Number of requests for which paragraph 28(1)(b) time frame was not met (Section 44 Notice) 1 0

1.2.3 Transfer Profile

Transfers Number of Transfers
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Transferred within 15 days 12 5
Transferred over 15 days 0 0
Total transferred 12 5
Transfers refused 0 0

1.3 CLAIMS FOR EXEMPTIONS

Please provide any relevant documentation for the following questions.

Questions Yes No Comments
1.3.1 – Is there a rationale on file when an exemption is invoked? X   Sometimes when needed to substantiate exemption, captured in ATIPFlow and Image
1.3.2 – Is the exemption rationale prepared by the OPIs? X   The OPI provides the context and preliminary views on disclosure when the records are provided to the ATIP Office
1.3.3 – Is the exemption rationale prepared by ATI? X   When required, sometimes in collaboration with the OPI
1.3.4 – Is there a documented exemption challenge function in ATI if the rationale is prepared by OPIs? X   The Team Leaders conduct quality control and may challenge the exemption. (See Job Description)
1.3.5 – Is there a documented requirement to place the rationale for exercising a discretionary exemption on file?   X  

2. DEEMED-REFUSAL REQUESTS

Statistics for Analysis of Deemed-Refusal Requests
Part A: Requests carried over from the prior fiscal period. April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
1. Number of requests carried over: 163 131
2. Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation on the first day of the new fiscal year: 108 39
Part B: New Requests — Exclude requests included in Part A. April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
3. Number of requests received during the fiscal period: 447 382
4.A How many were processed within the statutory 30-day time limit? 141 177
4.B How many were processed beyond the statutory 30-day time limit where no extension was claimed? 157 18
4.C How long after the expiry of the statutory 30-day time limit did it take to respond where no extension was claimed?
  1-30 days: 47 6
  31-60 days: 23 7
  61-90 days: 12 2
  Over 91 days: 75 3
5. How many were extended pursuant to section 9? 68 122
6.A How many were processed within the extended time limit? 14 50
6.B How many exceeded the extended time limit? 5 6
6.C How long after the expiry of the extended deadline did it take to respond?
  1-30 days: 2 3
  31-60 days: 1 3
  61-90 days: 0 0
  Over 91 days: 2 0
7. As of November 30, 2006, how many requests are in a deemed-refusal situation? 25
Part C: Contributing Factors
8. Use this area to describe any particular aspect about a request or type of request that may impact on the difficulty or time necessary to complete a request:
  Most deemed refusal situations can be attributed to the shortage of staff in the ATIP Office in order to reduce the file per ATIP Analyst ratio and to allow proper follow up with OPIs. Although the department conducted competitive and informal recruitment processes at the PM-05, PM-04 and PM-02 group and levels, the end results were insufficient to staff all vacancies. The department continues to rely on ATIP consultants for assistance. The demand for this expertise exceeds the supply and the Department is continuing its effort to recruit.

3. RESOURCE PROFILE

3.1 Employee Profile

Please list all ATI Office employees. As of December 2006

Full-time Position Classification Number Years of Experience
Director EX-01 1 17
Deputy director PM-06 1 15
Team Leader PM-05 2 3-5
Team Leader A/PM-05 1 5
Analyst PM-04 3 5-15
Analyst PM-03 1 2
Junior Analyst A/PM-02 2 2-6
Systems Analyst A/AS-03 1 8
Systems Production Support A/AS-01 2 1-2
Administrative Support CR-04 2 1-3
Consultants Status Number Years of Experience
Senior consultants Full-time 3-4 days per week) 4 10 plus
Senior consultants Part-time 1 day per week 2 10 plus
Junior consultants Full-time (5 days per week) 2 2-4

3.2 Salary Dollar Budget for ATI Office (Budget information for both Access and Privacy functions for DFAIT)

Fiscal Year Budget Allocated Budget Used FTEs Allocated FTEs Used
2005/2006 $ $815,201.00 31 20
2004/2005 $ $679,280.00   15.6
2003/2004 $ $563,239.00   11

3.3 Operating Budget for ATI Office

Fiscal Year Budget Allocated Budget Used
2005/2006 $ $1,209,730.00 *
2004/2005 $ $326,640.00
2003/2004 $ $236,261.00

NOTE: *: includes $250,000.00 for software purchase

Fiscal Year ATI Staff Training Departmental ATI Training
2005/2006 $ integrated $ integrated
2004/2005 $ integrated $ integrated
2003/2004 $ integrated $ integrated

3.5 Breakdown of ATI Office Operating Budget Used or Set Aside for ATI Consultants

Fiscal Year Budget Allocated Budget Used
2005/2006 $ in Ops Budget $600,000.00
2004/2005 $ in Ops Budget $276,891.00
2003/2004 $ in Ops Budget $269,865.00

4. LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORK

4.1 Is the ATI Coordinator responsible exclusively for the administration of the ATI Office?

Yes   No X

If No, please list other responsibilities of the ATI Coordinator.

Other responsibilities:
  • Administration of the Privacy function under the Privacy Act (667 requests in 2005-2006)
  • Coordination of Privacy Impact Assessments (7 PIAs in 2005-2006)
  • Coordination of the annual screening of departmental records to be sent to Library and Archives Canada (Over 300,000 pages reviewed)
  • Provision of advice under both Access and Privacy Acts (145 requests for advice from departmental officials in 2005-2006)

Please provide any relevant material with your completed questionnaire to support a "Yes" answer in the table below.

Question Yes No Comments
4.1.1 – Is there a documented ATI Vision? X   In the ATIP Business Plan dated June 2005
4.1.2 – Is there a published ATIP Operational Plan with clearly defined objectives, deliverables, time frames and responsibilities? X   In the ATIP Business Plan dated June 2005
4.1.3 – Is there a published ATIP Policy and Procedures Manual for departmental staff? X   Procedures Manual dated September 2003 and ATIP presentation deck
4.1.4 – Is the ATIP Policy and Procedures Manual kept up-to-date through at least a bi-annual review process? X   Processes were updated and conveyed to ATIP employees by emails, when required ATIP Deck updated quarterly
4.1.5 – Are OPIs ATI responsibilities clearly defined through documentation provided to OPIs? X   In tasking email and in the ATIP presentation deck
4.1.6 – Is there an internal ATI Office Manual on processing access requests? X   Procedures Manual dated September 2003
4.1.7 – Are there documented criteria for taking extensions under paragraphs 9(1)(a) and 9(1)(b)? X   ATI Training Session TB Policy Guidelines
4.1.8 – Is there a Delegation Order? X    
4.1.9 – Are the ATI roles and responsibilities for those with delegated authority clearly defined? X   Delegation Instrument
4.1.10 – Does the approval process require the approval or concurrence of officials who are not holders of delegated authority?   X  
4.1.11 – Is there a published ATIP Training Plan?   X - The ATIP Business provides for training departmental officials and ATIP staff - All ATIP Officer take TBS Courses - Approval of University of Alberta Certification Program for ATIP staff - Draft ATIP Training Plan being developed with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute - Draft Professional Development Program for PM’s being developed with Human Resources Sector
4.1.12 – Has ATIPflow or similar application been implemented? X   ATIP Image implemented in September 2005
4.1.13 – Is ATIPflow used proactively to identify potential problems? X   - Upcoming late files - Workload Reports by Officer - Statistical Reports to senior management - Outstanding files by OPI
4.1.14 – Is ATIPflow used to provide at least monthly reports to Senior Management? X   Monthly report with detailed reports of active and late files within various sectors/divisions
4.1.15 – Has an audit of the ATI Program been conducted in the last three years? X   Completed March 2005
4.1.16 – Does the ATI Office provide policy advice on the Access to Information Act? X   FY 2005-2006: 175 cases FY 2006 to date: 142 cases

4.2 Dealing with ATI Problems

Condition Action Taken Comment on Progress
Delay Complaints Dedicated resources and reassignment of workload Completed March 31, 2006
Large volume of same subject matter requests Dedicated resources and reassignment of workload Completed March 31, 2006
Staffing and Recruitment Dedicated Human Resources accredited consultant On-going

4.3 Solutions to Unanticipated Service Demands between April 1, 2005 and November 30, 2006

Service Demand Solution
Increase in services other than Access, ie Privacy Requests, Privacy Advice, Privacy Impact Assessments Integrated with overall workload strategy Approval of Business Plan and funding in June 2005, increases over the next 2 years

5. INFORMATION MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

5.1 What activities were planned and what progress was made between April 1, 2005, and November 30, 2006, on providing access to information using alternative methods?

Planned Activity Action Taken Comment on Progress
Quarterly Departmental Reports on Incidents of Foreign Diplomats Provide informal access thru the Communications Bureau Completed
Screening Program which consists of the review of Departmental Records before being sent to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Annual activity since 1984 Number of pages reviewed: 2003 – 228,000 pages 2004 – 219,663 pages 2005 – 300,000 pages Annual activity which increases access to departmental records thru LAC
Proactive Disclosures: .Travel and Hospitality .Contract under 10K .Reclassification .Grants and Contribution Assist program areas to deliver on the posting of this information on the web Quarterly assistance provided
Temporary Help Call-ups Available thru the Departmental Library On-going

5.2 What has been accomplished to implement the TBS Policy on the Management of Government Information?

Ongoing and improving lifecycle management of paper records, including work with LAC on disposition authorities and transfer of archival records. Regular file plan development and maintenance. Introduction of RDIMS and an associated IM Improvement Program focused on effective use of this tool by staff to meet immediate and long-term business needs as well as compliance with the Policy. The Program includes training on each individual’s responsibilities as custodians of departmental information. Provision of both responsive and pro-active advice on IM to departmental staff. Departmental IM Principles based on the Policy accepted by DFAIT management committee. A records management audit in 2000, a business case for RDIMS in 2002, and an IM/IT Needs Analysis in 2005 were all drivers to move the department to compliance with the Policy

5.3 What approximate percentage of departmental record holdings is covered by a Departmental Retention and Disposition Plan(s) and Records Disposition Authorities?

Departmental Retention and Disposal Plan(s) 10 %
Records Disposal Authority 10 %

Explanation:

For 5.3, explanation is required. RDAs are in place but are undergoing revision regularly because LAC bases the RDA on departmental file plans. The current file plan dates from 1994, an RDA is being developed – but earlier RDAs cover almost all of the subjects and activities anticipated in the new RDA.

Our disposition program is ongoing and functioning well for records we control.

The real challenge is that while we manage disposition for records we hold in record-keeping systems, a huge percentage of records (on network drives for example) is not under our control or classified according to our file plans. This is a significant challenge for most organizations – in DFAIT, the network handles 130 million e-mails annually. Capture and classification of this volume is not practical. Many of these (e-mail and attachment) records held outside our control are transitory, and may be disposed of using the Transitory Records Authority.

The estimate provided by Information Management are rough, and their accuracy is dependent on whether or not records must be in a file plan to apply disposition action. If they must, the percentages below are reasonable estimates. If not, existing RDAs, using subjects and activities, cover most (95%) of departmental information. It is laborious to ensure appropriate disposition without having information associated with a standard file, and there are risks, but it is possible.

5.4 Does the department have a classification scheme or schemes for its information?

Yes X No  

If Yes, please provide documentation that explains the classification scheme(s)

5.5 How is the classification scheme(s) maintained for currency and comprehensiveness?

The department has a small unit (2-4 staff) tasked with file plan management, and an application which allows any of our 60+ IM staff to request creation, closing, or modification of a file. Business line clients can request file changes through any IM Service staff, but more commonly the need for a change is evident as records are received for classification (and no existing file is adequate, or a further sub-division of files is indicated by increased volume on a subject). The file plan was initiated in 1994, thousands of files have been added since. The plan covers subjects and activities, for both paper and electronic formats. In final preparation stage is a new function-based file plan, expected to be used for records dated after 31 March 2007 with RDIMS.

6. COMPLAINT PROFILE

Data supplied by the Office of the Information Commissioner on complaints made to their Office and the resolution of those complaints.

6.1 Complaints by Categories

Category Number of Complaints
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 1/06 to Nov. 30/06
Refusal to disclose 11 6
S. 69 Exclusion 1 0
Delay (deemed refusal) 25 21
Time extension 8 0
Fees 1 0
Language 0 0
Publication 0 0
Miscellaneous 2 1
Total resolved 48 28

6.2 Complaint Findings

Category Number of Complaint Findings
April 1/05 to March 31/06 April 5/06 to Nov. 30/06
Resolved 43 22
Not resolved 0 0
Not substantiated 3 3
Discontinued 2 3
Total Findings 48 28