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Report Cards


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Institutions assessed in 2008–2009

Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) manages correctional institutions of various security levels housing offenders serving sentences of two years or more. CSC also supervises offenders under conditional release in the community. CSC contributes to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, providing programs for them during their sentences.

2008–2009 report card at a glance

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F

  • The deemed refusal rate was 47 percent.
  • The average time to complete a request was 110 days.
  • There was a major reorganization of the access to information office.
  • Analysts worked on both access and privacy requests. The high number of privacy requests meant less time was available to process access files. (This problem has since been fixed by having analysts working on either access or privacy requests, but not both.)
  • Almost 50 percent of requests were completed late; 22 percent of these were completed more than 90 days after their original due date.
  • CSC had no redaction software.
  • Records retrieval was not always prompt. CSC officials report that responding to access requests was not always a top priority for middle management, given their competing duties.
  • CSC submitted the required notices of extensions longer than 30 days to the Office of the Information Commissioner 45 percent of the time.
  • 2008–2009 was a transition year, in the middle of a three-year improvement plan: CSC hired and trained a number of new staff, and reorganized and relocated the access to information office.
  • Senior management demonstrated its commitment to compliance with the Access to Information Act, allocating new resources to the access to information office: $1.7 million in funding and 22 new positions as of April 1, 2008.
  • CSC’s commissioner and assistant commissioner responsible for access have committed to taking steps to emphasize to senior management and staff the importance of respecting the provisions of the Access to Information Act, meeting the legislated timelines and following correct procedures.
  • CSC reports that measures it has taken recently have led to better compliance in 2009–2010. CSC is aiming for significant improvement within two years.

Some facts about access to information operations at CSC in 2008–2009

Number of requests carried over from 2007–2008
126
Number of new requests
408
Number of requests completed
455
Deemed refusal rate
47%*
Average time to complete a request (in days)
110
Number of consultation requests
69
Number of complaints registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner
57
Number of complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner resolved
14**
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information office, as of March 31, 2009
10.5
 

* Percentage of carried over and new requests delayed beyond the deadlines (30 days and extended) set out in the Access to Information Act. (See Appendix B for the formula the Office of the Information Commissioner used to calculate this rate.)

** A complaint is resolved when the Office of the Information Commissioner finds it has merit, and the institution resolves it to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.


2008–2009 report card

Access to information officials at the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) acknowledged that its unacceptably high deemed refusal rate of 47 percent in 2008–2009 was due, in large part, to a reorganization of the access to information office. In addition, analysts worked on both privacy and access requests in 2008–2009, and an increase in workload associated with the former affected their ability to process access requests in a timely manner.

The average completion time for requests in 2008–2009 was 110 days. Moreover, almost 50 percent of the requests CSC received and completed in 2008–2009 were still open beyond their due date, and it took more than 90 days after that deadline to complete 22 percent of those requests. The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) is very concerned to see CSC letting a large percentage of files become overdue and then not completing those files quickly.

CSC’s access to information office did not use electronic redaction software in 2008–2009, relying instead on a manual method, coupled with redacting photocopiers. Access officials confirmed that they intend to start using case management software in 2010–2011 to improve efficiency.

Prompt records retrieval is a problem for CSC. Access to information officials reported that middle managers do not always make responding to access to information requests their top priority, given other competing interests related to the safety and security of the public, offenders and employees. The OIC is concerned that these officials do not understand their obligations under the Access to Information Act, particularly related to releasing records on time, and looks to CSC’s senior management and the minister to clearly communicate the importance of meeting these legislated requirements.

CSC access to information officials reported that they emphasize during staff access awareness sessions that access to information responsibilities are governed by legislation and that access requests are to be considered a priority.

As a result of a business case developed in 2006–2007, the access to information office is in the middle of a three-year plan that has seen it increase its number of staff by 22 (for both access to information and privacy operations). This hiring has meant orienting new staff to the organization, delivering intensive training and physically relocating the access to information office to bigger accommodations.

In CSC’s view, it has overcome the worst of the obstacles it faced to achieving better compliance with the Access to Information Act, and it has been able to focus on gaining efficiencies in access to information processes. More staff helped reduce the average workload per analyst, freeing up senior staff to provide additional training to employees in the program areas. CSC—which was first part of the report card process in 2002—aims to significantly improve its compliance within two years. The OIC will follow up on this transition, in the hope that CSC soon returns to the excellent level of compliance it achieved in 2003–2004 and 2004–2005.

Recommendations

1. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada continue to take a strong leadership role in establishing a culture of compliance throughout the Correctional Service of Canada. Such a role requires the unwavering endorsement of the minister.

Response

The commissioner approved the allocation of $1.7 million to the Access to Information and Privacy Division, effective April 1, 2008. As a result, the number of full-time equivalents in the Division increased by 22. In 2008–2009, the division undertook a massive hiring process, delivered intensive training and physically relocated to improved accommodations.

The commissioner will send a memorandum to the members of the executive committee stressing the importance of respecting the provisions of the Access to Information Act and setting out his expectations that timelines and procedures are to be respected.

2. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada senior management communicate its clear expectation that the Correctional Service of Canada must achieve full compliance with the Access to Information Act.

Response

CSC understood that compliance in 2008–2009 would be a challenge, while the Division was being reorganized and rebuilt. The Division is now fully staffed with trained analysts, and compliance rates have steadily increased in 2009–2010: 77 percent in the first quarter, 89 percent in the second and 92 percent in the third.

The assistant commissioner responsible for access to information will issue a memorandum providing detailed instructions on the procedures and timelines to provide responses to the Access to Information and Privacy Division to achieve full compliance with the Act.

3. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that CSC organize the Access to Information and Privacy Division to process privacy requests in such a way that access to information compliance is not jeopardized.

Response

This has already been completed. As a result of the increased funding, the Division created PM-04-level positions and dedicated the senior analysts to processing access to information requests. This has resulted in increased compliance rates in 2009–2010.

4. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada reduce the average completion time for requests.

Response

CSC’s compliance rate of meeting legislated timeframes has increased significantly to date in 2009–2010 (see above).

Offices of primary interest will be reminded of the requirement to respect timelines to provide records to the Access to Information and Privacy Division. Analysts have been reminded of their role in ensuring that legislated timeframes are met. Compliance rates will be monitored on a weekly basis by the division’s management team and on a monthly basis by the director general, rights, redress and resolution.

5. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada comply with the Act and notify the Office of the Information Commissioner of all the extensions it takes for more than 30 days.

Response

We agree with this recommendation. Analysts will ensure that the copy generated in the template is sent to the OIC for every extension over 30 days.

 

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

CSC reported that it completed 171 of the requests it received in 2008–2009 after their due date. This graph shows how long these requests stayed open beyond that deadline. It is of concern that 52 percent of these requests were late by more than 30 days.

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

[D]

Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

This graph shows the number and length of the time extensions CSC reported to have taken in 2008–2009. CSC supplied this information in the notices it sent to the OIC under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. CSC submitted the notices 45 percent of the time in 2008–2009; the OIC expects this figure to be 100 percent in 2009–2010.

Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

[D]

Number and outcome of delay-related complaints to the OIC, 2006–2007 to 2008–2009

These graphs show the number and outcome of two types of complaint registered against CSC in the last three reporting periods: complaints about deemed refusals (access to information requests that CSC delayed beyond the deadlines—30 days and extended—set out in the Access to Information Act) and complaints about CSC’s use of the time extensions allowed under the Act. Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

Deemed refusal complaints

Deemed refusal complaints

[D]

There was a large increase in deemed refusal complaints between 2006–2007 and 2007–2008 (from 2 to 14). Although the total went down (to 9) in 2008–2009, it did not return to the 2006–2007 level, and the proportion of complaints the OIC resolved remained large (89 percent in 2008–2009).

Time extension complaints

Time extension complaints

[D]

CSC had no resolved time extensions complaints in the last three reporting periods, but three complaints were pending at the end of both 2007–2008 and 2008–2009.


Number and outcome of complaints to the OIC, 2006–2007 to 2008–2009

This table sets out the number and outcome of the complaints the OIC registered against CSC in each of the last three reporting periods. Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

  Resolved Not
substantiated
Discontinued Pending Total
2006–2007
Administrative 2 6 2 0 10
Refusals 5 7 0 4 16
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 0 0
Total 7 13 2 4 26
2007–2008
Administrative 12 10 5 0 27
Refusals 3 2 5 14 24
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 0 0
Total 15 12 10 14 51
2008–2009
Administrative 10 1 5 3 19
Refusals 4 3 2 28 37
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 1 1
Total 14 4 7 32 57

There has been an overall increase in complaints of 119 percent since 2006–2007, and an increase in refusal complaints of 131 percent. The number of resolved complaints doubled over the same period (from 7 to 14). In 2008–2009, refusal complaints accounted for nearly two thirds of the total (37 of 57). That same year, the OIC resolved one quarter of the complaints overall and 53 percent of the 19 complaints in the administrative category, which included delay-related complaints (about overdue requests and time extensions).

 

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