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Report Cards


Year


Finance 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 Finance Canada’s progress to attain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act, since the previous report. In addition, this report contains information on the status of the recommendations made in the Status Report of 2006.

2. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

Last year, the Office of the Information Commissioner conducted the first Report Card on Finance Canada. The department failed to come into ideal compliance during that period of review. Therefore, Finance Canada 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 282 new access requests and carried over 76 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 358 access requests. Of the 358 access requests, 21 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 42 were carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 18 were carried over to the next fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation. The deemed-refusal ratio for 2004-2005, was 22.6%, resulting in an "F" on the grading scale.

In the first eight months of 2005-2006, Finance Canada’s deemed-refusal ratio was 11.9 %, resulting in a grade of "C".

3. Current Status

For the reporting period April 1 to November 30, 2006, Finance Canada’s level of compliance was 7.9%, a grade of "B".

A total of 300 requests were received duringthe period April 1 to November 30, 2006, compared to 339 requests received in the same time period last year. Twenty-four requests were carried into the period April 1 to November 30, 2006, and this contributed to Finance Canada’s failure to achieve ideal compliance.

For fiscal year 2006, Finance Canada started the year with 116 pending access requests with 20.6% in a deemed-refusal situation. Twenty-four requests were carried over from the prior fiscal year, 6 more than the previous year. The main goal for Finance Canada during the next year is to eliminate this backlog.

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Because of the factors described in this report, Finance Canada was not able to attain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. Because of the continuous efforts of its staff, it is expected that Finance Canada should meet this goal by next year.

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.

5. status OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

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

Previous Recommendation #1.1

The reason(s) for flagging an access request in any category other than routine be documented.

Action

Taken: Access requests are no longer categorized.

Previous Recommendation #1.2

The completed access requests for FY 2005-2006 be reviewed to determine the reason(s) for delayed responses to access requests and measures be developed and implemented to eliminate the delays.

Action

Taken: The department chose to examine the delays experienced during 2006-2007 rather than 2005-2006, as many of the delays in the previous year were considered to have been attributable to the staff shortages and the 19.85% increase in workload from the previous year. Also, it was in the department’s best interest to review the current year’s delays as they occurred, in order that remedial measures be implemented as soon as possible.

Previous Recommendation #1.3

The ATIP Procedures Manual be amended to document criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.4

The ATIP Procedures Manual be amended to include a requirement to notify a requester of the one-year limitation of the right to complain when an access request is almost one year old.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.5

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

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.6

The ATIP Directorate develop decision criteria when considering whether or not to discuss with a requester that an access request be treated informally.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.7

The ATIP Directorate produce a weekly report that provides information on access requests that are required to be completed for the week at each stage in the request-processing model, in order to proactively manage the deemed-refusal situation.

Action Taken:

This was implemented.

Previous Recommendation #1.8

Finance Canada review the access request process to eliminate numerous review and approval stages that do not add value to the ATI decision-making process. Communication requirements for OPIs and other individuals who require information on an access request disclosure package be handled in a separate and parallel process.

Action Taken:

The department has streamlined its procedures for processing requests and Communications and the Minister’s Office are now provided with the disclosure package in a parallel process.

Previous Recommendation #1.9

The Delegation Order for Finance Canada be amended to provide delegated authority under the Access to Information Act to the individuals who have the necessary knowledge to make the decisions required by the Act.

Action

Taken: This was completed. The ATIP Coordinator now has full delegated authority for all exemptions under the Access to Information Act.

Previous Recommendation #1.10

The ATIP Procedures Manual be amended to incorporate a requirement to contact the requester when an extended date will not be met and inform the requester: a) that the response will be late; b) of an expected date for a final response; c) of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.11

The ATIP Directorate develop a plan to implement measures to increase compliance with the timelines set out in section 27 of the Access to Information Act.

Action Taken:

The department has improved compliance in this regard by closely following the third-party procedures described in Chapter 3-5 of the Treasury Board Guidelines on ATI.

Previous Recommendation #1.12

The ATIP Directorate include a requirement in the Guidelines for Branch Review to document the rationale for exercising discretion.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #1.1

The ATIP Directorate include a requirement in the Guidelines for Branch Review to document the rationale for claims for exemptions.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

 

Previous Recommendation #1.14

The ATIP Directorate include a requirement in the Guidelines for Branch Review to consider exceptions to mandatory exemptions that could lead to disclosure of records and document the steps taken.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

Previous Recommendation #2.1

Finance Canada continue in its efforts to reduce the deemed-refusal situation and achieve a grade of ideal compliance by March 31, 2007.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing.

Previous Recommendation # 3.1

The ATIP Division review the staffing process in concert with HR to identify measures to staff the vacancies in the ATIP Division.

Action Taken:

This was completed. The Deputy Minister recently approved the implementation of the ATIP Developmental Program, which is currently being used to fill existing vacancies.

Previous Recommendation #4.1

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

Action Taken:

The Minister and Deputy Minister provide support to the ATIP program as seen by the appropriate allocation of resources and the continuous improvement to the on-time responses and tools used for the administration of the program. Following an internal review of the ATIP Program, the former Deputy Minister communicated his expectations that the Act would be respected at all levels of the department. The new Deputy Minister (appointed in June 2006) communicated his vision to Senior Management in the Priority Setting document, developed for 2007-2008, which includes ATIP as a priority in support of the Minister meeting the legislated responsibilities.

Previous Recommendation #4.2

The ATIP Directorate develop an ATI Operational Plan to support the departmental access to information vision and Business Case.

Action Taken:

This was completed.

 

Previous Recommendation #4.3

The ATIP Directorate complete the development of an ATI Office Manual and enhance the current Guidelines for Branch Review into a full Procedures Manual for OPIs.

Action Taken:

This was undertaken.

Previous Recommendation #4.4

The ATIP Directorate develop and implement an Access to Information Training Plan for departmental personnel.

Action Taken:

The Division is awaiting ATIP reform and subsequent revisions to training material prior to undertaking the development and implementation of a departmental training plan. In the interim, monthly ATIP presentations are available as part of the Orientation Sessions for new employees, and ad hoc ATIP training sessions are available to other staff, upon request.

Previous Recommendation #4.5

The ATIP Directorate review its use of ATIPflow to provide proactive management of ATIP administration.

Action Taken:

Finance Canada has instituted Team Leaders who, in part, proactively use ATIPflow as an effective tool for managing the ATIP requests of the advisors they supervise/mentor. Reports generated from the system are also used proactively by various levels of Senior Management to ensure compliance with the legislation throughout the department.

Previous Recommendation #5.1

Finance Canada, as part of the renewal of the IM Program, determine additional categories of information that may be disclosed proactively.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing.

 

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:

62

116

2.

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

18

24

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:

339

300

4.A

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

178

131

4.B

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

3

0

4.C

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

1-30 days:

2

0

31-60 days:

0

0

61-90 days:

0

0

Over 91 days:

1

0

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

121

147

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

45

63

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

6

6

6.C

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

1-30 days:

3

3

31-60 days:

1

3

61-90 days:

1

0

Over 91 days:

1

0

7.

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

3

 

EXCERPT FROM DEPUTY MINISTER’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

"I am very pleased that the significant efforts we have made to improve our performance has led to our receiving a "B" grade for "substantial compliance", especially given the increasing complexity of requests and the large volume of records that must be processed in this Department.

In addition, I was pleased to observe that your report acknowledges that Finance Canada has implemented numerous recommendations made by your office and that only one remains outstanding.

Finance Canada’s performance demonstrates that the Department takes its responsibilities under the ATI Act seriously, and that we are committed to ensuring that the principles and spirit of the legislation are adhered to in carrying out those responsibilities."

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