Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Report Cards


Year


Previous Table of contents Next

Institutions assessed in 2008–2009

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is responsible for meeting the Government of Canada’s obligations and commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and for fulfilling the federal government’s constitutional responsibilities in the North. INAC supports Aboriginal people and northerners in their efforts to improve social well-being and economic prosperity, develop healthier, more sustainable communities, and participate more fully in Canada’s political, social and economic development.

2008–2009 report card at a glance

whole star whole star whole star empty star empty star
C

  • Deemed refusal rate was 11.6 percent.
  • Average time to complete a request was 102 days.
  • INAC completed 47 percent of access to information requests in 30 or fewer days. 16 percent of requests took more than 120 days to complete.
  • INAC submitted notices of extensions of more than 30 days to the Office of the Information Commissioner 14 percent of the time, which is the worst rate among the institutions surveyed.
  • Records retrieval is hampered by documents being stored in a variety of media, including very old technology, such as microfiche.
  • Occasions of mid-manager-level resistance at the retrieval stage have also been a problem; however, the access to information office has provided training to emphasize the importance of a culture of openness at the institution.
  • The deputy minister is committed to transparency and intends to increase the use of the Internet and the intranet to disseminate information.
  • INAC has successfully diverted requests from formal to informal request routes.
  • The access to information office is undergoing a workload analysis to look at ways of streamlining its process.
  • The institution is increasing the number of access to information awareness training sessions offered to all employees, as well as the training provided to access to information staff.

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

Number of requests carried over from 2007–2008
80
Number of new requests
378
Number of requests completed
373
Deemed refusal rate
11.6%*
Average time to complete a request (in days)
102
Number of consultation requests
139
Number of complaints registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner
13
Number of complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner resolved
2**
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information office, as of March 31, 2009
13
 

* 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

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) achieved an 11.6 percent deemed refusal rate in 2008–2009—its first year as part of the report card process.

INAC mirrored a trend across the federal government in which a significant portion of requests resulted in a very long response time. For example, INAC completed only 46 percent of access to information requests in 30 or fewer days. Furthermore, 16 percent of requests took more than 120 days to complete. INAC provided the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) with notifications for extensions of more than 30 days under subsection 9(2) in only 14 percent of cases, the worst record among the institutions surveyed.

INAC reported that it offers alternative methods to access certain types of records informally. For example, requesters were able to approach the genealogy unit directly, rather than putting in a formal access to information request. The institution also allows individuals to request records informally for the purposes of claims research.

INAC officials emphasized that senior management supports a culture of openness and the efficient processing of access requests. In those few cases in which internal resistance was encountered, it usually involved a middle manager. Some managers did not fully trust the access to information staff’s expertise in determining what records could be released. Such situations inevitably led to delays in getting records to the access to information unit. Access to information awareness sessions were delivered in an attempt to overcome such resistance. This is a positive development; however, the OIC suggests that officials at the most senior levels, including the minister, make it clear that access to information should be a priority for everyone in the institution, particularly because it is a legislated obligation.

Access officials voiced concern about the current state of the institution’s information management systems, noting that certain types of records in its possession are not easily searchable. In some cases, the institution continues to use difficult and archaic record systems, such as microfiche. Such systems are time consuming to search, which leads to delays in getting the records to the access to information unit quickly. The institution does not currently have a plan in place to improve this aspect of information management.

The institution absorbed the former Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada (IRSRC) in June 2008. Since most of IRSRC’s access to information staff were junior privacy analysts, substantial training was needed on the access side. Officials said that, as much as possible, they treated requests inherited from IRSRC informally.

In order to achieve optimal compliance, INAC officials said they required additional full-time equivalent positions in the access to information office. INAC continued to find it difficult to locate and retain experienced analysts, and has started to recruit junior analysts from outside of the access to information field. INAC used consultants sparingly in 2008–2009.

The OIC views INAC compliance in 2008–2009 with some concern, since it was only average, and there are signs of a growing backlog, and a long average completion time. Although the institution has a number of good measures in place, solving the information management challenge and making other, larger changes may be required to maintain that performance or, better, improve it.

Recommendations

1. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the deputy minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada continue to take a strong leadership role in establishing a culture of compliance throughout the institution. Such a role requires the unwavering endorsement of the minister.

Response

INAC agrees that the deputy minister’s and the minister’s active engagement are important in ensuring compliance with the Access to Information Act. Senior management is apprised weekly on the administration of access requests. The minister continues to support full compliance with access requirements.

It is the intent of the department to look at improved measures of accountability, including the finalization of a monthly report for the Senior Executive Committee regarding late responses from program areas.

It is the intent to increase the use of the Internet for disclosure of information frequently requested through the access process. The deputy minister will use the intranet information website to convey notices on access matters.

2. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada strive to reduce its deemed refusal rate to zero.

Response

INAC will ensure that access requests are processed in a timelier manner. Should more extensions be required to avoid being in a position of deemed refusal, they will be taken in accordance with the Act.

To avoid deemed refusals, extension of time to process requests may be instituted more regularly.

In addition, INAC’s access to information office is undertaking a workload analysis to examine the way we do our business and will be increasing its training.

3. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada identify and implement the necessary enhancements to records management systems to ensure a quick and proper search of records in response to an access to information request.

Response

Records management is a challenge with respect to the administration of the Act. INAC is currently looking at improving the manner in which program areas provide records to the access information office in a timelier manner.

The access office will support the Information Management Branch in developing practices to better management program area information holdings.

4. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Indian and Northern Affairs 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

INAC agrees with this recommendation.

INAC will copy the OIC on all notices of extension over 30 days effective immediately.

5. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada reduce its average completion time for access requests.

Response

Reducing the completion time to process access requests is impacted by various factors (i.e. response time from program areas in providing records, complexity of requests, number of qualified staff to process requests, etc.). These challenges do not go unnoticed and are examined on a regular basis by all stakeholders.

INAC’s access office is conducting a workload analysis. This assessment will examine the number of requests being processed by access staff and the time it takes to process an average request with a view to identifying ways to streamline processing and reviewing. More opportunities for access training will be provided to INAC employees.

 

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

INAC reported that it completed 21 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 57 percent of these requests were late by more than 30 days.

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

This graph shows the number and length of the time extensions INAC reported to have taken in 2008–2009. INAC supplied this information in the notices it sent to the OIC under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. INAC submitted the notices 14 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

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

Deemed refusal complaints

Deemed refusal complaints

There was a significant increase in the number of deemed refusal complaints from 2006–2007 to 2007–2008, and a decrease the next year (1; 11; 3). The number of resolved deemed refusal complaints varied little over the three years (1; 3; 2).

Time extension complaints

Time extension complaints

The total number of time extension complaints decreased from seven in 2007–2008 to two in 2008–2009. These two complaints were pending at the end of the year.


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 INAC in each of the last three reporting periods. Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds to have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

  Resolved Not
substantiated
Discontinued Pending Total
2006–2007
Administrative 1 0 0 0 1
Refusals 2 4 0 2 8
Cabinet confidences 0 1 1 0 2
Total 3 5 1 2 11
2007–2008
Administrative 6 13 2 0 21
Refusals 1 2 1 6 10
Cabinet confidences 1 0 0 0 1
Total 8 15 3 6 32
2008–2009
Administrative 2 0 1 3 6
Refusals 0 1 0 6 7
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 1 1 9 13

The total number of complaints increased significantly from 2006–2007 to 2007–2008 (from 11 to 32), as did the total number of administrative complaints (from 1 to 21). The number of these complaints decreased significantly in 2008–2009 (to 13 and 6, respectively). The number of resolved refusal complaints decreased each year (2; 1; 0).

Previous Table of contents Next

Date modified: