2012-2013 Privy Council Office

Led by the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Privy Council Office (PCO) facilitates the operations of Cabinet and the Government of Canada by implementing the Government’s policy agenda and coordinating responses to issues facing the country. PCO oversees the federal public service.

PCO received 780 requestsFootnote 1 during the reporting period 2012-13, an increase of 46% as compared to 2011-12 (534 requests). PCO’s performance was in general lower in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. In general, the results were also below those achieved government-wide, except in terms of number of requests closed late.

PCO completed 83% of all requests in its inventory, which is similar to the completion rate achieved in 2011-12 (84%). The average number of days to complete a request in 2012-13 was 60 days.Footnote 2

More than half of the requests received came from members of the media (56.5%).

Table 1: Workload

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Number of requests received 534 780 46.07%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 520 511 -1.73%
Average number of pages processed per request closed 121 78 -35.54
% of requests for which more than 1000 pages were processed 1.53% 1.07% -0.46%
Note: The average number of pages processed per request closed and the percentage of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed are calculated from the total of requests completed for which the information was disclosed (in part or totally), exempted/excluded and for requests abandoned. It excludes requests completed for the following dispositions: no records exist, requests transferred and requests treated informally.

Proportionally, fewer pages were processed per request in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. On average, requests closed in 2012-13 required the processing of 78 pages/request closed, compared to 121 in 2011-12. In fact, only 1.1% of the requests completed in 2012-13 required the processing of more than 1,000 pages, compared to 1.5% in 2011-12. PCO disclosed about half of the pages it processed in 2012-13 (54.3%).

In terms of complexity of requests, a significant amount of those completed in 2012-13 (358) required legal advice. In comparison, in 2011-12, PCO sought legal advice for 56 requests (an increase of 539%).


PCO responded to 421 requests within 30 days or less, which represents about 58% of the requests closed in 2012-13. In comparison, PCO completed about 2% more requests within that timeframe in 2011-12. The proportion of requests completed in more than 120 days was high in 2012-13 (10.6%) compared to 2011-12 (1.9%).

However, only two requests were closed past their statutory deadline in 2012-13, representing 0.3% of all requests closed. This is equivalent to an “A”Footnote 3 grade.

Reasons invoked for the two requests closed late were workload and the need for internal consultation.


Each year, the OIC receives notices regarding the use of extensions for more than 30 days and compiles this information in order to generate statistics. In 2012-13, the OIC received 208 notices of extension from PCO, which represented a total of 218 separate extensions.

PCO took 327 extensions to close the 725 requests completed in 2012-13. In comparison, a total of 242 extensions were taken to close 529 requests in 2011-12.

The proportion of extensions taken of 30 days or less in 2012-13 was 24.5%, a decrease of 3.6% compared to 2011-12.

The extensions taken under sections 9(1)(a) (interference with operations) and 9(1)(b) (consultation other than section 69) each represented about 40% of all extensions taken in 2012-13.


Of the 725 requests completed, 4.8% of them were disclosed entirely, which represents a 1.4% decrease compared to the reporting year 2011-12. This is also the lowest disclosure rate achieved by the PCO over a 10-year period. It is also lower than the proportion government-wide (21.6%).

The number of requests for which no records existed represented 35% of the requests completed in 2012-13. As a reference, the proportion of requests closed government-wide for which no records existed was 11% for the same reporting period.

Table 2: Performance

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 84.10% 83.24% -0.86%
Completion Time
% of requests closed within 30 days 59.92% 58.07% -1.85%
% of requests closed past statutory deadline 0.00% 0.28% 0.28%
% of consultations from government institution closed within 30 days 73.60% 60.33% -13.27%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 28.10% 24.46% -3.64%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 45.12% 54.29% 9.17%
% of requests closed for which the information was disclosed entirely 6.24% 4.83% -1.41%
Note: The completion rate represents the number of requests completed divided by the total number of requests on hand, which includes the new requests received and the requests carried over from the previous reporting period.


The OIC received 52 complaints against PCO in 2012-13, an increase compared to the previous reporting period (36 complaints). The proportion of administrative complaints also went up by 17.5% during the same period. Still, most of the complaints in 2012-13 were for refusals (32, 69.2%).

About 40% of the complaints received in 2012-13 were discontinued (21), while a similar number of them were well-founded vs. not well-founded (8 complaints each). However, as of May 2014, an additional 15 complaints were still pending.


Footnote 1

According to the PCO’s annual report, the subject of the requests received varied. Notable subjects requested included briefing notes to the Prime Minister for various time periods and information regarding Afghanistan, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Senate reforms.

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Footnote 2

Based on response to parliamentary written question Q-485.

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Footnote 3

The 2007-08 OIC report card system was used to estimate a grade: A=0 to 5%, B=5 to 10%, C=10 to 15%, D=15 to 20%, F= more than 20%.

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