2012-2013 5. Ensuring operational integrity and corporate support for investigations
Our ongoing efforts to ensure sound governance and stewardship of our limited resources have proven particularly valuable as we face a significant decrease in our budget. Nonetheless, we have maintained a solid foundation for our core business—investigating complaints and providing exemplary service to complainants.
As with most other federal organizations, we are in the process of absorbing successive and significant budget reductions and pressures—in our case, equalling nearly 11 percent of our Main Estimates by 2014–2015. This is putting us at the limit of our financial and organizational flexibility, with our staff complement having been reduced from 106 to 93 full-time equivalents.
These reductions are significantly limiting our ability to deal with the demands of our current inventory of complaints and to meet various corporate obligations. Any unexpected event that would impact our workload (a large increase in complaints or litigation, for example) would create significant pressures on the organization and put our ability to uphold Canadians’ democratic right of access to information at risk. Despite our ongoing improvement in turnaround times for complaint investigations and closing slightly more complaints than we received, our pursuit of exemplary service to Canadians requires us to continue to perform at the highest levels. While we will continue to make process improvements and ensure our staff are as productive as possible, any significant advances we might achieve in the future, such as to assign all complaints promptly and continue to reduce our turnaround times for investigations, would only be possible with an influx of resources, particularly funds to hire new investigators.
Under the auspices of a new integrated human resources plan, to be launched in 2013–2014, we continue to emphasize the importance of a strong and healthy workplace as key to our achieving excellence in our work. For example, we appointed champions for a wide range of issues in 2012–2013—managers who are the point people for employee concerns and input on workplace matters, such as values and ethics, official languages and diversity.
As part of our talent management program, we are vigorously pursuing performance management and evaluation to ensure all our staff can reach their full potential. At the same time, we are supporting their work with a variety of training programs—not only specific to our investigative mandate but also to underline our corporate mission and values, and promote leadership among employees.
Our move to Shared Services in April 2012 has resulted in significant improvement in the delivery of human resources services to the organization. We also worked with that group throughout the year to implement the follow-up actions we took as a result of a Public Service Commission audit of our staffing practices.
Finally, we reviewed how we provide information to Shared Services and how we apply key provisions of the Financial Administration Act, to ensure our internal controls are consistent and effective.
Information management/information technology
In 2012–2013—year four of our five-year IM/IT strategy—we upgraded many infrastructure components and introduced a wide range of new information management tools.
For example, we launched the new mobile secure remote access system and the secure file transfer system. We also completed the prototype for the new legal case management system, which increases interoperability with our existing investigations case management system. New record-keeping tools, business rules and training are helping ensure our staff can provide exemplary service to Canadians, particularly answering access to information requests promptly, completely and accurately.
Finally, we continued to modernize our website to increase accessibility, usability and interoperability. In early 2013, we also launched a new accessible mobile version of the site.
Access to information and privacy
For information on our access to information and privacy activities in 2012–2013, consult our annual reports to Parliament on these topics. Appendix A contains the annual report of the Information Commissioner ad hoc, who investigates complaints against us, since we may not investigate ourselves.