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OFFICE OF THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER COMMITMENTS
Classification of complaints
As noted previously, this is a transition year for the report cards process. It marks a first attempt to introduce a significant change to the performance assessment framework. The OIC is confident that the new framework will represent a major improvement over what we have used until now. During the course of the process, we have identified additional areas for improvement. We also solicited the views of institutions on issues to be factored in the development of a better and more effective performance measurement framework.
A common concern focused on the way the OIC classifies the outcomes of our investigations. These outcomes fall into one of three disposition categories:
- resolved: the complainant has a justifiable complaint and the institution has resolved the complaint to the Commissioner’s satisfaction;
- not substantiated: the applicant’s complaint was dismissed as unjustifiable and the institution took no further action; and
- not resolved: the complaint was found to have merit but resolution would only be achieved by way of court action.
Institutions have argued that the resolved category comprises too many types of outcomes. Some of these cases may indeed be instances of improper application of the Act by an institution, for example, withholding of information that should not have been exempted or excluded. But in many cases, a resolved complaint may be one in which the reasons for withholding information have changed with the passage of time or in which minimal additional information is released as a result of the intervention of our office. It has been argued that describing all investigations that lead to additional disclosure of information as having been resolved does not appropriately reflect the dialogue that takes place between the OIC and the institution as we work to resolve a complaint. It may also give a misleading impression of the institutional performance.
The Office of the Information Commissioner will review how closed complaints are classified with a view to developing and implementing by 2009–2010 a new set of disposition categories that provide a more accurate picture of institutional performance.