Access officials must keep current on information management systems

Complaint: National Defence told a requester it had no copies of specific reports about democracy and human rights in Afghanistan that later turned out to exist.

Investigation: The OIC learned that some access officials had a limited understanding of National Defence’s information delivery and holding systems, and that this had affected their ability to search for the reports. It also became clear that if access officials had simply asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade—with whom the reports had originated—they would have been able to identify responsive records.

Outcome: The Information Commissioner issued formal recommendations that training be provided to employees about the duty to assist and that access officials become and remain familiar with the institution’s various information systems. Given the passage of time, no responsive records were still in existence; however, the requester did receive the names and contact information for National Defence officials responsible for Afghanistan policy.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Access officials must ensure they are familiar with their institution’s information distribution and holding systems.
  • They must also ask the proper questions when seeking records from program areas.
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