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Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Part A:       Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year (2009-2010)
1. Number of requests carried over: 67
2. Requests carried over from the prior fiscal year— in a deemed-refusal situation on the first day of the new fiscal year 14
Part B:       New requests received in fiscal year 2010-2011 (Exclude requests included in Part A)
3. Number of requests received during the fiscal period 368
4.A How many were completed during fiscal year 2010-2011 within the statutory 30-day time limit? 238
4.B How many were completed during fiscal year 2010-2011 beyond the statutory 30-day time limit where no extension was claimed? 2
4.C How long after the expiry of the statutory 30-day time
limit did it take to complete the request where no extension was claimed?
  1-30 days: 2
  31-60 days: 0
  61-90 days: 0
  Over 91 days: 0
5. How many were extended pursuant to section 9? 115
6.A How many were completed during fiscal year 2010-2011 within the extended time limit? 64
6.B How many were completed during fiscal year 2010-2011 after exceeding the extended time limit? 1
6.C How long after the expiry of the extended deadline did it take to respond?  
  1-30 days: 0
  31-60 days: 0
  61-90 days: 1
  Over 91 days: 0
7. Number of requests received in 2010-2011 that were carried over to 2011-2012? 62
8. As of April 1st, 2011, how many requests which were received in the 2010-2011 reporting period are in a deemed-refusal situation? 2
Part C:       Workload
9. What is the number of pages reviewed for requests completed in:  
  2008-2009? 253 621
  2009-2010? 235 698
  2010-2011? 420 006
10. What is the number of consultations requests received  in:  
  2008-2009? 155
  2009-2010? 128
  2010-2011? 165
Part D:       Contributing Factors
11. Please describe the most significant issues that affected your institution’s ability to respond to access to information requests in a timely manner (within 30 days and/or statutory timelines). These may include:
  • Requests for large volume of records
  • Approval process of access requests
  • Difficulties to retrieve records (OPI turnaround time)
  • Staff shortages / resources
  • Requests filed in bulk
  • Consultations with other institutions
  • Others

The DFO ATIP Secretariat continues to experience the same sorts of challenges as other institutions subject to the federal access legislation, such as those listed above. 

The most significant issues that affect the department’s ability to respond on time relate to volume, complexity, consultations with other institutions, and staff shortages – specifically a shortage of experienced ATIP analysts.
DFO is a large de-centralized institution with a diverse mandate to deliver the following strategic outcomes: Economically Prosperous Maritime Sectors and Fisheries, Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems, and Safe and Secure Waters.  The range of DFO programs and activities that support these outcomes, in addition to the size of our department, continues to result in the necessity to retrieve large amounts of sometimes very technical and/or scientific information.  In addition, some DFO operations are essential and must take priority over retrieval of records in certain situations.

Consultations with certain institutions continue to impact on the institution’s ability to respond within legislated deadlines.  Lawful extensions are taken for reasonable lengths of time in consultation with the tasked institutions, and yet there are still situations where it is not possible to respond within the extended deadlines because responses to key consultations have not been received. The issue of volume and complexity is compounded by the shortage of experienced ATIP analysts.  It takes time – and in some cases it is not possible - for newly trained analysts to process large and complex files.  In addition, the commitment to train new analysts impacts the ability of senior staff to respond to ATI requests.  DFO appreciates that TBS has recognized this shortage of staff as a systemic issue, and that most institutions are facing the same challenge.  As a result, DFO is committed to working with TBS to find a long term solution. Despite these continuing challenges, the DFO ATIP Secretariat is pleased to report the following:

  • The Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to take a strong leadership role in establishing a culture of compliance throughout the institution.
  • The deemed refusal rate identified by the OIC in 2008-09 of 13.2% has dropped to 4.3%.
  • The backlog of access requests in a deemed refusal situation cited by the OIC in 2008-09 has been eliminated.
  • The Deputy Minister continues to support staffing actions and office reorganization initiatives intended to ensure that the DFO ATIP Secretariat is in the best position possible to respond to ATI requests.
  • The DFO Information Management (IM) Strategy Action Plan initiatives are producing significant results, among them a draft departmental Data Policy, and standard IM awareness material that has been developed and piloted for use in sessions that DFO will offer in all regions beginning in fiscal year 2011-12.
12. Please describe any practices or policies developed/undertaken by your institution to improve the timely delivery of your access to information program and, where possible, indicate how successful these practices/policies have been. These may include:
  • Informal treatment of requests
  • Streamlined approval process
  • Partial release of records
  • Fast track process for common requests
  • Others
The DFO ATIP Secretariat continues to routinely examine established practices and procedures with the goal of continuously improving compliance.  Initiatives that have been, or are in the process of being implemented to improve compliance and in response to the OIC recommendations in the 2008-09 OIC Report Card include the following:
  • The ATIP Secretariat improved reporting to TBS and senior management regarding the Management Accountability Framework (MAF) requirements that are used to assess the management of access and privacy legislation in Government of Canada institutions subject to these laws – this has resulted in increased ATIP awareness and an increased MAF rating for the ATIP related Area of Management 12.

  • The ATIP Secretariat re-organized work streams to include a separate unit to address policy development and reporting – this has allowed the ATIP Operations unit to devote their expertise to processing requests for information while maintaining policy development and governance.

  • The ATIP Delegation Authority was amended to give full signing delegation to the Deputy Director of ATIP Operations – this has allowed for a more efficient distribution of workload and more effective completion of files.

  • The ATIP Secretariat implemented a new team structure within ATIP Operations – this has resulted in a better use of resources, allowing experienced ATIP analysts to review files while junior analysts gain experience by performing more of the administrative duties related to the processing of a file such as retrieving records, following up on action items, preparing consultations, etc.

  • The ATIP Secretariat implemented a new tracking process for consultations with PCO that allows DFO ATIP to respond to requests that include information related to PCO within legislated deadlines with as much information as possible – this has resulted in a clearer understanding of the complexities related to consulting with PCO and should contribute to an improved consultation process by allowing DFO to examine trends and advice from PCO.

  • The ATIP Procedures Manual has been renewed and is expected to be finalized later this year – this has resulted in more consistent ATIP practices and procedures.

  • All DFO ATIP employees actively participate in regular staff and analyst meetings – this continues to result in effective identification of issues and increased sharing of best practices and procedures.

  • The ATIP Secretariat has continued to use a gradually reducing number (from 4 to 2) of additional resources (consultants) to systematically eliminate the backlog of overdue files – this has allowed the ATIP Secretariat to eliminate the backlog.

  • The ATIP Secretariat has completed a comprehensive review of all training material to ensure that this material is compliant with the most recent TBS ATIP Policies and Directives – this has resulted in the creation of new training material including an awareness presentation for senior management and an emphasis on the “Duty to Assist”.

  • The project to address Info Source deficiencies was extended to build on improvements that have been implemented to ensure that the public has access to a comprehensive listing of departmental information holdings – this has resulted in an improved departmental understanding of the importance of Info Source and an improved chapter submission.

  • The ATIP Modernization Project (AMP) is ongoing and implementation of the new system is imminent – the goal being to refresh the software that currently supports the business line, and implement business process improvements that will increase ATIP productivity and compliance.

  • The ATIP Secretariat initiated a project to upgrade the current intranet and internet sites so that they will be user friendly and allow for increased focus on client services, including FAQs, expanded reporting, and summaries of ATI requests – the goal being improved communications with internal and external clients.

  • The ATIP Secretariat, DFO Human Resources, and the DFO Acting  Director General of the Executive Secretariat are actively participating in the TBS initiative to create generic ATIP organizational models, generic work descriptions, and generic competency profiles – the goal being the formal implementation of the generic work descriptions, once approved.

  • The ATIP Secretariat works with the DFO IM branch in support of the DFO IM Strategy Action Plan to identify and implement the necessary enhancements to records management systems – the goal being more effective search and retrieval of records and faster response times, in addition to valid retention and disposition schedules.

Part E:       Completion Time
13. What is the average completion time for all requests completed in 2010-2011?
The DFO average completion time for all requests completed in 2010-2011 is 73.8 days/request
Part F:        Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act
14. Please attach your institution’s completed Report on the Access to Information (Form TBS/SCT 350-62) for 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. For institutions on a fiscal year other than April 1st-March 31st, include any supplemental reports where available.