Plans are “put into operation” when implementation begins

Complaint: DND withheld the majority of a briefing note relating to workforce adjustment plans, citing paragraph 21(1)(d) and noting that the plans would not be fully implemented for another two years.

Investigation: DND alleged that releasing the information could cause unnecessary stress within the DND workforce, since it could give an inaccurate account of the final number of employees who could be subject to workforce adjustment.

Outcome: DND eventually agreed to disclose the information, given the passage of time.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Paragraph 21(1)(d) allows institutions to withhold records that contain plans relating to the management of personnel or the administration of an institution that have not yet been put into operation.
  • There is nothing in the Act to support DND’s view that the plan must have been fully implemented in order for it to be considered to have been “put into operation.”
  • Instead, based on a plain reading of paragraph 21(1)(d), DND should have considered the plan to have been put into operation once it had been formally approved, notice had been given by a final authority of the plan’s existence and implementation had begun.
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