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Report Cards


Year


Immigration and Refugee Board

Status report on access requests in a deemed-refusal situation

 

1. Background

Every department reviewed has been assessed against the following grading standard:

% of Deemed Refusals

Comment

Grade

0-5%

Ideal compliance

A

5-10%

Substantial compliance

B

10-15%

Borderline compliance

C

15-20%

Below standard compliance

D

More than 20%

Red alert

F

This report reviews the Immigration and Refugee Board’s (IRB) progress, since the previous report, in coming into compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act. In addition, this report contains information on the status of the recommendations made in the 2006 Status Report.

  1. COMPLIANCE HISTORY

The Office of the Information Commissioner has conducted one Report Card on the IRB. The department failed to come into ideal compliance during that period of review. Therefore, the IRB was not meeting its obligations under the Access to Information Act to respond to access requests in a timely manner.

 

In 2004-2005, the department received 250 new access requests and carried over 40 access requests from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 290 access requests. Of the 290 access requests, 49 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, one was carried over from the previous fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation, and a further 23 were carried over to the next fiscal year in a deemed-refusal situation. The deemed-refusal ratio for was 24.8%, resulting in an "F".

For the first eight months of 2005-2006, the department received 132 new access requests and carried over 37 access requests from the previous year, for a total of 169 access requests. By November 30, 2005, of the 169 access requests, 18 were completed in a deemed-refusal situation, 23 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 2005-2006 was 39.1%, resulting in an "F".

 

3. CURRENT STATUS

For 2006-2007, the IRB started the year with only 6 pending access requests, with none in a deemed-refusal situation. During the reporting period April 1 to November 30, the IRB received 100 access requests. None were completed beyond the statutory time limit where no extension was claimed. No requests were completed beyond the extended time limit, and none were placed in a deemed-refusal situation. Accordingly, the IRB left the "red alert" score of "F" it maintained since 2004 and obtained a perfect score of "A", something extremely difficult to achieve.

4. RECOMMENDATIONS

Because of the factors described in this report, the IRB was able to achieve ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act.

Recommendation #1

That the Chairperson take responsibility to ensure that the ATIP Office implements all of our recommendations in the Report Cards and status reviews to ensure that the department maintains ideal compliance.

Recommendation #2

That the ATIP Directorate develop a fee waiver policy for access requests.

This recommendation was not implemented last year. We believe it should be implemented for the reasons discussed in our Previous Recommendation #1.4 (below).

Recommendation #3

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

This recommendation was not implemented last year. We still believe it should be implemented to ensure all employees are aware of their obligations under the Act and to reinforce the current efforts to demonstrate a commitment to a culture of access to information.

Recommendation #4

That the ATIP Directorate develop an ATI Operational Plan to support the departmental access to information vision, setting out the objectives, priorities, tasks and resources, deliverables, milestones, timeframes and responsibilities.

Our Previous Recommendation #4.2 on this issue was not implemented last year. However, as stated in our grading system used to evaluate departments, we strongly believe that both an ATI Operational Plan and an ATI vision are essential to maintain ideal compliance with the time requirements of the Access to Information Act.

Recommendation #5

That the ATIP Directorate develop criteria to consider for exercising discretion on whether or not to release information considered subject to a discretionary exemption.

This recommendation was not implemented last year. We still believe it should be implemented. These criteria could be used by ATIP analysts in their recommendations to the Director and by employees replacing the Director on a temporary basis.

5. status OF 2006 RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations were made to support the IRB’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 as interesting be documented in the ATIP Desktop Procedures that is under development.

Action Taken:

This will be addressed in the Desktop Manual.

Previous Recommendation #1.2

The ATIP Desktop Procedures for the ATIP Directorate include criteria for clarifying or modifying an access request.

Action Taken:

This has been addressed in the Desktop Manual.

Previous Recommendation #1.3

The ATIP Desktop Procedures include a requirement to notify a requester of the limitation of the right to complain when an access request is nearing one year old.

Action Taken:

This has been addressed in the Desktop Manual.

Previous Recommendation #1.4

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

Action Taken:

The IRB failed to comply with this recommendation relying on the fact that the Treasury Board Guidelines state that the Director can exercise discretion as he sees fit. We believe a fee waiver policy would assist the Director in defining the factors relevant to the exercise of discretion and prevent inconsistent results. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

Previous Recommendation #1.5

The ATIP Directorate document the criteria for categorizing an access request as abandoned or unable to process in the ATIP Desktop Procedures.

Action Taken:

This has been addressed in the Desktop Manual.

Previous Recommendation #1.6

The ATIP Directorate 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.

Action Taken:

This was not accomplished, but there has been no deemed refusals since February 2006. The Director monitors the situation on a daily basis within ATIPflow.

Previous Recommendation #1.7

The ATIP Directorate conduct an analysis of OPI response times for the FY 2005-2006 to determine the OPIs that are not providing records to the ATIP Directorate on time, and incorporate measures for improving performance in an ATI Improvement Plan.

Action Taken:

This was not accomplished, since monitoring has been required to officers on a case-by-case basis. Since then, OPIs are rarely late. The Director monitors the situation on a daily basis.

Previous Recommendation #1.8

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.

Action Taken:

The IRB believes that, since the review process is not the cause for deemed refusal, it will remain unchanged. However, we believe the present process may cause delays if the number of requests increases drastically in a short period of time.

Previous Recommendation #1.9

The ATIP Directorate conduct an analysis of the completed access requests for FY 2004-2005 and FY 2005-2006 to determine the reasons for missed extension dates and develop measures to resolve the situation as part of an ATI Improvement Plan.

Action Taken:

There is no longer a requirement to "resolve the situation" as there have been no deemed refusals since February 2006. Subsequently, the IRB believes that an ATI "improvement" plan is equally not required.

Previous Recommendation #1.10

The ATIP Directorate institute requirements in the ATIP Desktop Procedures for documenting the rationale for claiming all exemptions for the exercise of discretion and for the consideration of exceptions to mandatory exemptions.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing.

Previous Recommendation #1.11

The ATIP Directorate institute requirements in the ATIP Desktop Procedures for the completion of documentation in the access request-processing file that provides a record of responsible individuals and their actions, events and decisions.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing.

Previous Recommendation #2.1

The ATIP Directorate produce a monthly report that provides the ATIP Director and Senior Management with information on how well timelines are met in the access request-processing model. The reports will provide Senior Management, OPIs and the ATIP Director with information needed to gauge overall IRB compliance with the Act’s and Board’s time requirements for processing access requests.

Action Taken:

Weekly monitoring has been done by the ATIP Director. Appropriate actions have been taken to prevent deemed refusals. The IRB has had no requests in a deemed-refusal situation since February 2006.

Previous Recommendation #2.2

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

Action Taken:

Excellent monitoring actions by the ATIP Director gave the IRB the opportunity to meet this goal.

Previous Recommendation #3.1

The IRB investigate the use of consultants when there is a temporary increase in workload that cannot be handled with internal resources, if the increased workload is likely to result in access requests in a deemed-refusal situation.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing. No consultants have been required so far.

Previous Recommendation #4.1

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

Action Taken:

This has not been implemented. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year in our Recommendation #3.

Previous Recommendation #4.2

The ATIP Directorate develop both an ATI Operational Plan and an ATI Improvement Plan to support the departmental access to information vision and to guide the implementation of improvements to eliminate the deemed-refusal situation at the IRB.

Action Taken:

This was not implemented. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year in our Recommendation #4.

Previous Recommendation #4.3

The ATIP Directorate complete the development of the ATIP Desktop Procedures for the ATIP Directorate to provide a consistent approach to the processing of access requests.

Action Taken:

This is ongoing. Desktop procedures should be ready by the time of completion of the present report.

Previous Recommendation #4.4

The ATIP Directorate develop an ATI Policy and Procedures Manual for IRB staff.

Action Taken:

These will be incorporated in the Desktop Manual and provided in Info Net to all staff.

Previous Recommendation #4.5

The ATIP Directorate develop criteria to consider for exercising discretion on whether or not to release information considered subject to a discretionary exemption.

Action Taken:

This was not implemented. Accordingly, the same recommendation will be maintained this year.

 

Previous Recommendation #4.6

The ATIP Directorate upgrade ATIPflow to provide the office with the capacity to proactively manage ATI administration.

Action Taken:

Upgrades are being looked at with IM/IT. Changes should be done before the present fiscal year.

Previous Recommendation #5.1

The IRB, as part of the renewal of the Information Management Program, identify additional categories of information that could 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:

37

6

2.

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

24

0

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:

169

100

4.A

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

111

73

4.B

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

33

0

4.C

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

1-30 days:

14

0

31-60 days:

10

0

61-90 days:

9

0

Over 91 days:

0

0

5.

How many were extended pursuant to section 9?

21

7

6.A

How many were processedwithin the extended time limit?

14

6

6.B

How many exceeded the extended time limit?

5

0

6.C

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

1-30 days:

4

0

31-60 days:

0

0

61-90 days:

0

0

Over 91 days:

1

0

7.

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

0

 

EXCERPT FROM THE CHAIRPERSON’S RESPONSE TO STATUS REPORT

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not provide any comments.

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