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Report Cards


Year


Fisheries and Oceans 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 Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (F&O) progress to achieve ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act, since the previous report. In addition, this report contains information on the status of the recommendations made in the Status Report of 2006.

2. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

The Office of the Information Commissioner has conducted Report Cards and status reviews on F&O on six occasions. Although the department attained ideal compliance, a grade of "A", on two occasions, it has not been able to maintain that grade. Therefore, F&O has not been able to meet its obligations under the Access to Information Act to respond to access requests in a timely manner.

In the 2003 Report Card, it was reported that F&O had achieved a very significant turnaround in its performance results for access requests in a deemed-refusal situation. For the period from April 1 to November 30, 2002, a grade of "A" was achieved, which constituted ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. It was further confirmed that this level of compliance was maintained to the end of the fiscal year. This is in stark contrast to previous years ("F" grades for both the 2001 and 2002 ReportCards).

In the 2004 Status Report, it was noted that F&O continued to maintain this remarkable turnaround by attaining ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access toInformation Act. The department achieved a 1.9% deemed-refusal ratio for the period from April 1 to November 30, 2003, for a grade of "A".

In the 2005 Report Card, F&O received a substantial compliance grade of "B", with a 5.2% request to deemed-refusal ratio for requests received from April 1 to November 30, 2004. This was the first year that requests carried over from the previous year, and the number of requests already in a deemed-refusal status on April 1, were taken into consideration.

In the 2005-2006 Report Card, F&O’s deemed-refusal ratio was 12.7%, a grade of "C". Out of an average of 300 requests received from April 1 to November 30, 2005, 120 had been carried over from the previous year. This is why the backlog constituted a serious problem for F&O.

3. Current Status

For the reporting period April 1 to November 30, 2006, F&O’s level of compliance was 5.9%, a grade of "B".

A total of 329 requests were received duringthe period April 1 to November 30, 2006, compared to 304 requests received in the same time period last year. 92 requests were carried into the period April 1 to November 30, 2006, which contributed to F&O slipping slightly over ideal compliance at 5.9%.

For FY 2006, F&O started the year with 92 pending access requests with 12 (13%) in a deemed-refusal situation – 50% less than the previous year.

4.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Because of the factors described in this report, F&O was not able to maintain 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.

In order to achieve this, F&O should proceed to full staffing of approved manning levels. Last year, at the same time, 18 of the 25 FTEs were staffed. At the present time, 19 of the 25 FTEs are staffed. The main problem encountered by the department is the burdensome procedure to staff positions.

Recommendation #2

That the ATIP Division produce a weekly report that provides the ATIP Division and Senior Management with information on how well timelines are met when responding to access requests.

F&O failed to follow this recommendation made in last year’s report. The reports will provide Senior Management and the ATIP Division with information needed to gauge overall F&O compliance with the Act’s and F&O’s time requirements for processing access requests.

5. status OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

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

Previous Recommendation #1

F&O strive to attain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act for 2005-2006.

Action Taken:

F&O failed to attain ideal compliance. This is addressed at Recommendation #1 in this year’s report.

Previous Recommendation

#2

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

Action Taken:

F&O’s Acting ATIP Director believes that, because F&O, at the time of the writing of this report, carried over only one late file from last year, this recommendation is not worth the effort especially as ATIPflow could not produce enough details to create a report intelligible to Senior Management.

Senior Management requires up-to-date information on a regular basis on how the ATIP Office is managing the processing of requests. While F&O carried over only one file from the previous year, it received 329 requests during this period. Up-to-date information will inform Senior Management and assist them in assessing the challenges ahead.

 

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:

120

92

2.

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

28

12

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:

447

329

4.A

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

241

212

4.B

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

18

1

4.C

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

1-30 days:

12

0

31-60 days:

2

1

61-90 days:

1

0

Over 91 days:

3

0

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

160

86

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

87

31

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

18

4

6.C

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

1-30 days:

6

2

31-60 days:

9

2

61-90 days:

1

0

Over 91 days:

2

0

7.

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

8

 

 

EXCERPT FROM DEPUTY MINISTER’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

The department did not provide any comments.

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