2012-2013 6. Looking ahead
The coming year will bring our 2011–2014 strategic plan to a close. An essential activity for 2013–2014, then, will be developing a new plan to guide our activities until 2017, the end of the current Commissioner’s mandate.
The new plan will focus on how we will achieve the highest level of performance in investigating access to information complaints and become an effective catalyst for advancing access to information and fostering openness and transparency. Dialogue with employees and stakeholders will ensure the new plan is grounded in our current and anticipated challenges and opportunities.
Meanwhile, we will continue to work to meet our goals in the three key areas of the current plan: developing a leading access to information regime, providing exemplary service to Canadians, and creating an exceptional workplace.
Leading access to information regime
Our focus in 2013–2014 will be on completing our multi-institution investigations into consultations, interference with the access to information process and text-based messaging. We also plan to complete our investigation into a complaint that government policies that restrict or prohibit government scientists from speaking with or sharing research with the media and the Canadian public are impeding the right of access to information under the Act.
30th anniversary of the Access to Information Act
The Access to Information Act came into force on July 1, 1983. A world leader at the time, the legislation has subsequently been surpassed—in terms of technological advances as well as the continued relevance of certain exceptions and exemptions—by newer laws, not only across Canada, but also in dozens of countries around the world.
To coincide with the 30th anniversary of the act, we will issue recommendations to Parliament in the fall of 2013 for modernizing the Act, based on wide-ranging stakeholder submissions, previous studies and previous Commissioners' recommendations for reform, the current Commissioner’s experience with the Act and recent international developments. These recommendations will attempt to place the Act in a 21st-century context, particularly in light of Canada’s commitments under the international Open Government Partnership and leading access systems in other jurisdictions.
Exemplary service to Canadians
We will continue to strive to provide exemplary service to Canadians by meeting demanding performance targets: to complete 85 percent of our administrative cases within 90 days and 75 percent of priority or early resolution cases within six months.
We will continue to target the files in our inventory that deal with national security, international affairs and defence, as well as complaints against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canada Revenue Agency. We will also work to complete the oldest files in our inventory and carefully follow the progress of our investigations.
As part of our ongoing efforts to be an exceptional workplace, we will roll out a comprehensive talent management program, a new human resources plan as well as our code of values and ethics, with excellence in all aspects of our work as our goal.
Our Corporate Services group will finish implementing our information managament/information technology strategy and manage the relocation of our offices in the late fall of 2013.
While giving us modern accommodations, the relocation will also afford us the opportunity to share services and facilities with fellow Agents of Parliament who will be in the same building. At the same time, we are taking the opportunity to examine government-wide common service initiatives to determine whether they could be of benefit to us. In both cases, we will weigh any advantages against the possibility of compromising our independence or ability to deliver our mandate.
We are financing the move through an increase in our parliamentary appropriations in 2013–2014, in the form of a loan repayable over 15 years ($175,000 a year, starting in 2014–2015). In addition, the relocation will impose new ongoing incremental costs, which will add to the existing financial pressure we face.
Update your address book
In the late fall of 2013, the Office of the Information Commissioner will be moving to 30 Victoria Street in Gatineau, Quebec. Our website will provide more information as the time approaches.