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Report Cards


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4. Institutional report cards

For the period 2008–2009, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) selected a large sample of 24 institutions covered by the Access to Information Act to analyze their performance in terms of the timeliness of their responses to access requests. This group of institutions received 88 percent of all federal access requests in 2008–2009. They were selected on the basis of complaints the OIC received during the reference period. All institutions against which we received at least five delay-related complaints (requests completed late and problems due to the time extensions that institutions claimed to process requests) were selected. The institutions’ responses to our assessment questionnaire are posted on the OIC website.

We followed up on the 10 institutions surveyed for our 2007–2008 Special Report in order to report on their implementation of action plans to address issues that were identified last year.

The table below provides the 2008–2009 rating by institution. Scores ranging from one to five stars (or from F to A), as explained in Appendix B, have been assigned to institutions based on their overall compliance. In response to feedback from institutions, our assessment framework retained both the deemed refusal rate and the letter grade. We also looked at a broader picture of institutional compliance, such as whether institutions met their statutory obligation to notify the Information Commissioner every time they invoked a time extension for more than 30 days and the length of time it took to process overdue requests after the due date.

For 2008–2009, the Department of Justice Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) achieved a perfect score. The former maintained its performance from last year. As the institution that received the largest volume of access requests of any federal government institution, CIC tied first place.

Three institutions achieved greater success in 2008–2009 than in the previous reporting year: Canada Border Services Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The goal for these institutions is to sustain their efforts, as there is room for additional improvements.

Institutions that scored an average and above average performance all faced varying challenges during the year but were able to maintain a reasonable performance.

The performance of 12 institutions was below average or unsatisfactory in 2008–2009 for a variety of reasons. These institutions accounted for 9,047 (or 27 percent) of a total of 34,041 access requests made to the federal government. (This percentage increases to 45 percent if we remove the large share of requests sent to CIC, the majority of which are privacy-related and as such can be processed more expeditiously.) Most of these institutions struggled with increases in requests, insufficient resources, and/or drawn- out review and approval processes. They also made extensive use of time extensions, many of which were applied inappropriately.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s performance was so poor that the OIC could not rate it against its established criteria. This is all the more troublesome given the high number of mandatory consultations that this department receives. As a result, other institutions and requesters are held hostage by the department’s dismal performance.

Finally, following the review process, the OIC decided not to rate Telefilm Canada on its compliance with the Act in 2008–2009, which was an atypical year for the institution. In particular, since 33 of the 39 complaints against Telefilm Canada were pending at the end of the year, the OIC did not have a complete set of data on which to base its assessment.

2008–2009 Rating by institution

Institutions Rating Letter Grade Overall performance rating
Department of Justice Canada 5 A Outstanding
Citizenship and Immigration Canada 5 A Outstanding
Public Works and Government Services Canada 4.5 B Above average
Canada Border Services Agency 4.5 B Above average
Industry Canada 4 B Above average
Public Safety Canada 3.5 C Average
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 3 C Average
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 3 C Average
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada 3 C Average
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada 3 C Average
Transport Canada 2.5 D Below average
Canada Revenue Agency 2.5 D Below average
National Defence 2.5 D Below average
Canadian Security Intelligence Service 2 D Below average
Health Canada 2 D Below average
Canadian Food Inspection Agency 2 D Below average
Privy Council Office 2 D Below average
Natural Resources Canada 1 F Unsatisfactory
Canadian International Development Agency 1 F Unsatisfactory
Correctional Service of Canada 1 F Unsatisfactory
Canadian Heritage 1 F Unsatisfactory
Environment Canada 1 F Unsatisfactory
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada 0 Off chart Red alert
Telefilm Canada n/a n/a n/a

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