CSC’s ATIP Division has taken great strides towards completing outstanding ATIA requests and improving its compliance rate over the past several years.
Since the 2008-2009 reporting year, the ATIP Division’s compliance rate has improved significantly. The progress in CSC’s compliance rate is in part due to the hiring, training and retention of senior analysts. ATIP has adopted such measures as contacting the requesters, working with them to narrow the scope of their requests, or partially releasing records. In addition, CSC routinely releases information that has been made available as a result of previous requests.
CSC routinely reviews a number of informal ATIA requests. These requests relate to disciplinary/harassment investigations, Boards of Investigation reports and reviews of internal audit and evaluation reports.
The following chart shows CSC ATIP Division’s improvement in compliance rates over the past number of years:
Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures
The ATIP Policy and Training Unit created a variety of reference tools to aid in educating the ATIP Division and employees of CSC on its roles and responsibilities. CSC also drafted bulletins regarding new Directives, specifically on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, as well as several training decks focusing on specific exemptions and exclusions. Further, the Assistant Commissioner, Policy drafted Guidelines Regarding Transitory Documents in order to aid all employees in complying with directives on the disposal and retention of documents, in accordance with Library and Archives Canada regulations.
Other Policy developments include:
A Compliance Manual, created as an authoritative guide for all ATIP staff. It details the steps involved in processing Access to Information requests, explores specific exemptions and exclusions, discusses the Division’s responsibilities regarding consultations, etc. It is anticipated that the Manual will provide all with valuable information to address many Access to Information questions. The manual also stresses to CSC staff the requirement to provide timely responses to ATIP concerning ATIA requests.
- CSC has endeavored to put into practice consistent standards for the reception and treatment of all ATI requests. An internal policy which regulates the processing of formal requests was created and distributed within the department to ensure that requesters are afforded a standardized and efficient response to their request, in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Federal Accountability Act.
Training & Awareness
The Policy and Training Unit (PTU) was created in 2008 with the aim of developing a comprehensive learning and training plan for ATIP related matters, including processing requests under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. The PTU also helps develop policies and procedures for the ATIP Division, and ensures that there is a systematic means by which to provide advice and assistance to OPIs.
The Policy and Training Unit plays a fundamental role in developing and delivering training to National Headquarters, Regional Headquarters and Institutions across Canada on Access to Information related matters. This reporting year, the PTU provided several training sessions to its ATIP staff on the ATIA Act, including such topics as exemptions used by CSC, the requirement of staff to respond to ATIA requests and to search for relevant records, to not alter, falsify or destroy records. During the current fiscal year, the ATIP Policy and Training Unit has delivered a total of 15 training sessions with 300 persons attending. Examples of training which reflect these numbers include:
ATIP Lunch and Learns: In December 2010 a need was recognized to deliver training sessions for ATIP staff to ensure consistency in applying the Act and to promote a culture of continuous learning. To date, there have been 8 sessions delivered to ATIP staff on different exemptions, 4 in French and 4 in English. In total, 35 staff members routinely participated in these sessions. Due to the success of these sessions, the ATIP Policy and Training Unit will continue to provide internal training sessions to its staff.
Training sessions to CSC staff, including training of Institutional staff in the Prairie Regions (a total of 210 employees). Staff included Correctional Officers, Administrative staff, Parole Officers and other individuals working with offenders.
Training ATIP liaisons (15 employees). Currently there are 5 ATIP liaisons in the Region who are relatively new and in need of specialized training. The Policy and Training Unit met one-on-one with 3 liaisons and followed up with a 3 day, on-site training session (with 13 attendees), which included NHQ and Regional liaisons.
The ATIP division also provided awareness sessions to Security Intelligence Officers on ATIP (16 new officers, 8 instructors).
ATIP provided an orientation session to new Wardens and Deputy Wardens (15). The ATIP Division officials also liaised with NHQ Information Management (IM) and Security staff to ensure that ATIP is part of CSC’s New Employee Orientation Program.
CSC organizes visits to institutions on a yearly basis in order to foster education regarding the challenges of working in an institutional environment.
The Policy and Training Unit created a dedicated Policy and Training email account where all areas of CSC, including the regions, can direct their questions and concerns regarding training, policy and guideline advice, interpretations of the Act, etc. The Policy and Training Unit also offers a series of tailored training decks for staff and trainees to refer to. ATIP has received several positive comments regarding our Infonet site and training sessions and hope to expand and develop these sessions in the future.
InfoNet & Internet Updates and Maintenance
With the aim of bringing greater awareness to the policies and guidelines of the Access to information Act, CSC’s ATIP Division has updated its internal ATIP website as well as the public ATIP website. In order to aid in educating the wider CSC community on ATIP related issues, the InfoNet site includes information regarding policies and procedures, directives, privacy breach prevention and reporting, PIA procedures, and a list of ATIP Tips and Bulletins. It also provides a training mechanism where requests for training can be made directly to the Policy and Training Unit by individuals or groups. Further, as mentioned above, the Policy and Training Unit now has its own email account where questions can be directed regarding the Access to Information Act.
CSC is currently working on a project to make available a non-exhaustive list of Access to Information request summaries on its public ATIP site in order to offer requesters the ease of informal access to requests. We anticipate that case summaries will be on our website this fall.
Finally, CSC’s ATIP Division has one of the few ATIP shops that redacted information manually. The Division has now implemented a new case management and electronic vetting system, known as Access Pro. The new system will result in the automation of several thousands of pages and it is expected that this will result in increased efficiencies in responding to ATIA requests.