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INSTITUTIONAL REPORT CARDS
For this assessment, as for previous ones, the OIC selected a small sample of ten institutions covered by the Act and undertook a detailed analysis of their performance in responding to information requests.
In selecting the institutions, the OIC considered various factors, namely the rate of deemed refusals in 2006,10 the institution’s complaints profile, trends of interests (such as anecdotal use of extensions, the institution’s processing model and its interconnectedness with other federal institutions), and the institution’s record of efforts to improve its compliance with the Act. We looked for a set of institutions that had a mixed record, with some having a history of problematic performance and others having a reputation for being among the best performers in relation to the Act.
The data used to prepare this report card came from:
- institutions’ responses to our questionnaire, which was sent out in May 2008;
- the Treasury Board Secretariat’s database on access to information activities;
- institutions’ reports to Parliament on their access to information activities;
- individual communications with access to information staff in the institutions under review; and
- a review of our internal database on time extension notices and complaint files.
This year’s assessment does not constitute a scientific audit. The OIC has noted irregularities and inconsistencies in the data received from institutions, beyond those that can be explained by the shortcomings of the questionnaire. We are, however, confident that the assessment provides a fair appreciation of institutional performance.
The assessment framework we used retained the deemed refusal ratio but also looked at a broader picture of institutional performance such as its compliance rate with the statutory obligation to notify the Information Commissioner every time it invokes a time extension for more than 30 days. We also paid particular attention to data on the use and duration of time extensions. We did a qualitative analysis of processes used by institutions to respond to requests and the practices in place that ensure timely response. This analysis provides insight into, among other things, the extent to which institutions are fulfilling their obligations under the Act. We also included a description of contextual factors, such as major changes in workload and availability of human resources, that affect the capacity of institutions to fulfill their obligations under the Act.
Scores ranging from one to five stars, as explained in Annex A, have been assigned to institutions based on their overall performance in responding to access to information requests. The rating guide was modified during the 2007-2008 process when it became obvious that the information available for a reliable review of completeness and accuracy was not sufficient.
10 Grading from previous years is for the period of April 1st to November 30th.