ARCHIVED - Access to Information Act: Annual Report to Parliament 2011-2012

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Author: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
Date: 2012
QS #: QS-3655-000-EE-A1
Catalog: R1-43/2012E-PDF
ISSN: 1929-5111

PDF Version   (2,363 Kb, 42 Pages)

 


Table of Contents




I. Introduction

The purpose of the Access to Information Act (ATIA) is to provide Canadians with access to records under the control of federal institutions, except for records subject to limited and specific exemptions and exclusions.

This report, submitted pursuant to section 72 of the Act, describes the activities of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) that support compliance with access to information legislation. The report details the activities and accomplishments of AANDC's Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Directorate, including highlights such as:

Our Department

AANDC supports Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and Northerners in their efforts to:

AANDC is the federal department primarily responsible for meeting the Government of Canada's obligations and commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and for fulfilling the federal government's constitutional responsibilities in the North. AANDC's overall mandate and wide-ranging responsibilities are shaped by centuries of history and unique demographic and geographic challenges. The mandate is derived from the Constitution Act 1982, the Indian Act, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act, territorial Acts, treaties, comprehensive claims and self-government agreements, as well as various other statutes affecting Aboriginal people and the North.

Most of the department's programs, representing a majority of its spending, are delivered through partnerships with First Nation and Aboriginal communities and federal-provincial or federal-territorial agreements. AANDC also works with urban Aboriginal people, Métis and non-status Indians (many of whom live in rural areas) through the Office of the Federal Interlocutor.


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II. Organization

ATIP Directorate at AANDC

The ATIP Directorate is responsible for the administration of requests made under the Act. It was established within the Corporate Secretariat and reports to the Corporate Secretary, who is directly accountable to the Deputy Head and is a member of the AANDC Senior Management Committee (SMC). The Directorate also coordinates and implements policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure departmental compliance with the Act. Workshop presentations, training courses and awareness sessions designed to increase access to information and privacy capacity across the Department are also provided by the Directorate.

The Directorate is comprised of two divisions, the Operations Unit and the Privacy Policy Unit. The Operations Unit is structured as follows: (text equivalent of diagram)

During the 2011-2012 reporting period, the Operations Unit was challenged by a number of vacancies in its organizational structure. This created a gap in analytical capacity and resulted in reliance upon support from temporary help consultants.


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III. Delegation Order

Under section 73 of the Act [Note 1], the Minister's authority is delegated to departmental officials in order to administer the Act within AANDC.

At the outset of the reporting period, a delegation order dated November 3, 2010 was still in effect following the Department's recent transition to Minister John Duncan (Appendix A). The delegation order designated the following positions as having the authority to administer the ATIA:

A new delegation order was signed by Minister Duncan on August 30, 2011 (Appendix B). Under section 73 of the Act, the order delegates full authority and responsibility for the ATIA to the following positions:

The ATIP Coordinator can also sub-delegate to either one of the Team Leader positions.


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IV. Interpretation of the Statistical Report

This year marks the first time government institutions are using the new statistical reporting format. AANDC's Statistical Report was submitted to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) on May 4, 2012 (Appendix C). The Report details various aspects of the requests AANDC received and processed during the period of April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012. With the movement toward open government, many federal institutions are observing an increase in access requests as well as greater scrutiny of their performance with respect to legislation. AANDC experienced this upward trend in the form of 156 more requests than the previous fiscal year, or a 50% increase in volume.

Part 1. Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Requests Received

In 2011-2012, AANDC received 470 requests under the Act in addition to 136 requests carried over from the previous year. Of these 606 requests, the ATIP Directorate completed 518 requests and carries 88 requests over into the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

1.2 Sources of Requests

Of the 470 requests received during the reporting period, 285 (60.6%) were received from the general public, followed by 82 (17.4%) from members of the media, and 64 (13.6%) were received from businesses (Figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2 - Percentage Distribution of Source

Text description of Figure 1.2. - Percentage Distribution of Source

During the reporting period:


Table 1. Sources of requests
Source Number of Requests
Public 285
Media 82
Business 64
Organization 24
Academia 15
Total 470

Part 2. Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

Of the 518 requests closed during the reporting period, AANDC was able to fully or partially disclose records in 340 cases (65.6% of the time). In these cases, the majority of requests (275, or 53.1%) took less than 30 days to complete.

Table 2.1. Disposition and completion time of requests made under the Access to Information Act

  Completion Time
Disposition of requests 1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to
120 days
121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than
365 days
Total
10 46 15 15 2 4 3 95
Disclosed in part 5 78 40 27 11 46 38 245
All exempted 1 5 1 10 0 3 0 20
All excluded 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 3
No records exist 14 48 11 1 2 0 0 76
Request transferred 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
Request abandoned 43 10 5 2 1 4 1 66
Treated informally 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 9
Total 85 190 72 55 16 58 42 518

It should be noted that in the process of eliminating all backlog requests from previous years, some aged requests that had long been outstanding were closed, resulting in a number of requests with protracted completion times (see Table 2.1, '181 to 365 days' and 'More than 365 days'). In addition, a number of requests required lengthy external consultations, also increasing the number of days required to respond to the requester.

The most frequent outcome of the requests processed during the reporting period (see Figure 2.1) was 'Disclosed in part', which occurred in 245 requests (47.3%), followed by 'All disclosed' which occurred in 95 requests (18.3%). In 66 cases (12.7%), the request was abandoned by the requester.

Figure 2.1. - Dispositions of closed requests

Text description of Figure 2.1. - Dispositions of closed requests

During the reporting period:


2.2 Exemptions

Table 2.2. Number of requests closed where exemption provisions were invoked

Section Number of requests Section Number of requests Section Number of requests Section Number of requests
* I.A.: International Affairs, Def.: Defence of Canada, S.A.: Subversive Activities
13(1)(a) 3 16(1)(c) 1 16.5 0 20(1)(c) 24
13(1)(b) 0 16(1)(d) 0 17 4 20(1)(d) 22
13(1)(c) 14 16(2)(a) 1 18(a) 11 20.1 0
13(1)(d) 0 16(2)(b) 1 18(b) 7 20.2 0
13(1)(e) 0 16(2)(c) 4 18(c) 0 20.4 0
14(a) 11 16(3) 1 18(d) 1 21(1)(a) 61
14(b) 7 16.1(1)(a) 1 18.1(1)(a) 10 21(1)(b) 47
15(1) – I.A.* 4 16.1(1)(b) 0 18.1(1)(b) 1 21(1)(c) 38
15(1) – Def.* 0 16.1(1)(c) 1 18.1(1)(c) 0 21(1)(d) 10
15(1) – S.A.* 0 16.1(1)(d) 0 18.1(1)(d) 0 22 5
16(1)(a)(i) 0 16.2(1) 0 19(1) 195 22.1(1) 0
16(1)(a)(ii) 0 16.3 0 20(1)(a) 1 23 67
16(1)(a)(iii) 0 16.4(1)(a) 0 20(1)(b) 67 24(1) 0
16(1)(b) 2 16.4(1)(b) 0 20(1)(b.1) 0 26 0
Total Exemptions Applied: 630

As was the case in previous years, the most common exemption invoked during the reporting period was the severing of personal information pursuant to subsection 19(1) of the Act, which was cited in 195 (57.4%) release packages (Table 2.2). The next most common exemptions applied were under subsection 20(1) (92 instances (27.1%)) and 21(1) (155 instances (45.6%)), which protect certain third party and government operations information, respectively.

2.3 Exclusions

During the reporting period, exclusions were predominantly cited pursuant to subsection 69(1), which were applied in 63 requests (18.5%) (Table 2.3). These exclusions generally contained records related to funding via TBS Submissions and Memoranda to Cabinet.

Table 2.3. Number of requests closed where exclusion provisions were applied

Section Number of requests Section Number of requests Section Number of requests
63(a) 4 69(1)(a) 12 69(1)(g) re (a) 25
68(b) 0 69(1)(b) 2 69(1)(g) re (b) 0
68(c) 1 69(1)(c) 4 69(1)(g) re (c) 0
68.1 0 69(1)(d) 2 69(1)(g) re (d) 0
68.2(a) 0 69(1)(e) 18 69(1)(g) re (e) 0
68.2(b) 0 69(1)(f) 0 69(1)(g) re (f) 0
  69.1 0
Total Number of Exlusions Applied: 68

2.4 Format of information released

Over the course of the reporting period, there was an increasing emphasis on the retrieval and disclosure of records in electronic formats (Table 2.4). As of Q2, the vast majority of responses were provided to the requester in CD ROM format. In exceptional cases where the scanning of records rendered portions difficult to read, paper copies were provided in keeping with the duty to assist. By focusing on electronic response packages, we were able to eliminate photocopy fees altogether. In total, AANDC conveyed response packages electronically in 329 (96.8%) requests where records were disclosed.

Table 2.4. Format of information released

Disposition Paper Electronic Other Formats
All disclosed 3 92 0
Disclosed in part 8 237 0
Total 11 329 0

2.5 Complexity

As part of the new Statistical Report format, several factors affecting the complexity of requests were also captured.

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed

During the reporting period, the ATIP Directorate retrieved and reviewed 305,134 pages of records under the control of the Department (Table 2.5.1). This represents a 110% increase over the previous reporting period. Approximately one-third (112,740 pages or 36.9%) of these records were disclosed partially or in their entirety.

In some cases, backlog requests were abandoned by the requester either because they were no longer interested, or because they agreed to open a new request with a revised scope. In such situations some of the retrieved records (30,577 pages) had already been reviewed prior to abandonment.

In one instance, a request was closed where all records had been exempted under the provisions of the Act. Following this closure and pursuant to the duty to assist, the ATIP Directorate agreed to release three pages of records that were not pertinent to the original request but useful to the requester. A similar decision was made for a request where all records were excluded and 314 pages of other records were released to the requester post-closure under the duty to assist.

Table 2.5.1. Relevant pages processed and disclosed

Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests
All disclosed 26,090 16,694 95
Disclosed in part 247,019 95,776 245
All exempted 1,089 3 20
All excluded 359 314 3
Request abandoned 30,577 0 66
Total 305,134 112,787 429
2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests

More than half of the requests where records were retrieved (225 or 52.4%) required 100 pages of processing or less (Table 2.5.2). On the other end of the spectrum, the ATIP Directorate administered 61 requests (14.9% of all requests reported in Table 2.5.2) that required treatment of over 1,000 pages, including 11 requests of over 5,000 pages to process. These 61 high-volume requests also accounted for 74,043 (24.3%) pages disclosed over the course of the reporting period.

Table 2.5.2. Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests

  Less than 100
pages processed
101-500
pagesprocessed
501-1000
pages processed
1001-5000
pages processed
More than 5000 pages processed
Disposition Requests Pages disclosed Requests Pages disclosed Requests Pages disclosed Requests Pages disclosed Requests Pages disclosed
All disclosed 64 1,016 19 3,625 8 4,005 3 764 1 7,284
Disclosed in Part 85 2,465 70 11,306 37 16,010 44 44,907 9 21,088
All exempted 15 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 2 0 1 314 0 0 0 0 0 0
Abandoned 59 0 2 0 1 0 3 0 1 0
Total 225 3,484 97 15,245 46 20,015 50 45,671 11 28,372
2.5.3 Other complexities

Throughout the reporting period, the ATIP Directorate navigated several challenges that increased the complexity of its requests. The most frequent of these factors was the need for consultation on records containing information pertinent to other government institutions or third parties. AANDC consulted 174 times with these stakeholders, with the most frequent outcome of full or partial disclosure of records (152 instances).

Table 2.5.3. Other complexities related to requests closed during reporting period

Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Other Total
All disclosed 27 5 1 0 33
Disclosed in part 125 40 51 0 216
All exempted 13 0 1 0 14
All excluded 1 0 0 0 1
Abandoned 8 10 0 0 18
Total 174 55 53 0 282

AANDC also encountered challenges in administering lengthy and complex files. Consequently, we piloted an approach to dealing with large complex files from multiple requesters on a sole topic. Our approach consisted of obtaining consent from each one of the 26 requesters to apply an extension to their file and administer all 26 requests as one single file. In return, AANDC committed to interim releases and waived all search and retrieval fees. In this way, we were able to ensure timelines were met. Feedback from requesters was overwhelmingly positive, prompting us to use this approach in similar situations.

2.6 Deemed refusals

All deemed refusals left outstanding from 2010-2011 were completed by Q3 of the reporting period. The large number of deemed refusals closed during 2011-2012 are a testament to AANDC's successful strategy to eliminate its backlog of requests.

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline

AANDC carried 62 backlog requests into the 2011-2012 fiscal year, accounting for 72.3% of the requests in Q1 where the Department did not meet its statutory deadline. As identified in AANDC's backlog resolution strategy during 2010-2011, some of these requests required extensive external consultations or the re-retrieval and review of records (Table 2.6.1). For the remaining 23 requests, excessive workload during staffing challenges was a primary reason for not meeting statutory deadlines. As of Q2, AANDC only recorded one deemed refusal, resulting in an average compliance rate of 100%.

Table 2.6.1. Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline

  Principle Reason
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
85 52 33 0 0
2.6.2 Number of days past deadline

Certain backlog requests carried into 2011-2012 had no extensions applied to them. The preponderance of these requests (29 of 33, or 87.9%) was closed at least 60 days after the original statutory deadline (Table 2.6.2). In addition, some backlog requests did have extensions applied to them but were still closed well after their new deadlines (47 of 52 requests, or 90.4%, were closed more than 60 days after the deadline).

Table 2.6.2. Number of days requests were closed past their statutory deadline

Number of days past deadline Number of requests past deadline where no extension was taken Number of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 2 2 4
16 to 30 days 0 2 2
31 to 60 days 2 1 3
61 to 120 days 9 8 17
121 to 180 days 5 7 12
181 to 365 days 8 17 25
More than 365 days 7 15 22
Total 33 52 85

2.7 Requests for translation

During the reporting period, there were no instances where requesters asked that responsive records be translated to another official language.

Part 3. Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

The most frequent reason for extending the statutory timeline of requests was due to interference with operations, pursuant to Section 9(1)(a) of the Act. For requests closed in 2011-12, these extensions were applied in 127 (24.5%) instances, including backlog files. However, this extension type was only applied 46 times to new requests during the 2011-2012 fiscal year and mostly in Q1; since the start of Q2, only 4 requests had this type of extension applied. This figure is explained by AANDC's reliance on extensions to process the requests received in Q1; in this way we were able to meet our statutory obligations while also focusing on the elimination of the backlog. As of Q2, however, a new policy was introduced requiring analysts to get managerial approval for any and all extensions. As a result, the incidence of extensions under 9(1)(a) virtually disappeared, and whenever extensions were applied under 9(1)(b) or (c), all records not being consulted on were generally released in the first 30 days.

In all cases where extensions pursuant to 9(1)(a) were taken, the requests resulted in dispositions of 'All disclosed' or 'Disclosed in part' in 91.3% of cases; where an extension was taken under either 9(1)(a), (b) or (c), records were fully or partially disclosed on average 88.7% of the time.

Table 3.1. Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

  9(1)(b) Consultation  
Disposition of requests where an extension was taken 9(1)(a) Interference
with Operations
Section 69 Other 9(1)(c)
All Disclosed 21 1 2 5
Disclosed in part 95 21 57 26
All exempted 2 0 5 8
All excluded 0 1 0 0
No records exist 3 0 0 0
Request abandoned 6 0 3 1
Total 127 23 67 40

3.2 Length of extensions

The vast majority of extensions applied during the reporting period were less than 180 days (94.2% of the time). In a handful of instances, longer extensions of greater than 180 days were applied due to significantly large volumes of records or the requirement of lengthy external consultations with third parties or the Privy Council Office (PCO).

Table 3.2. Length of extensions

  9(1)(b) Consultation  
Length of extension 9(1)(a) Interference
with Operations
Section 69 Other 9(1)(c)
30 days or less 16 4 17 0
31 to 60 days 19 0 12 29
61 to 120 days 19 4 16 6
121 to 180 days 63 13 20 4
181 to 365 days 6 2 2 1
365 days or more 4 0 0 0
Total 127 23 67 40

The length of extensions applied under paragraphs (b) and (c) was largely dependent on timeframes decided by the Other Government Department (OGD); for example, PCO requires 180 days for all consultations on Cabinet confidences and the Department of Justice (DOJ) requires a range of days depending on the volume. Whenever an extension of over 30 days was applied, we notified the OIC.

Part 4. Fees

AANDC collected $1,700 in application fees and successfully waived $682 in fees over the course of the reporting period (Table 4). The movement toward electronic release of information has allowed the Department to avoid assessing fees for reproduction and preparation costs. AANDC will continue to emphasize electronic release of records wherever possible.

Table 4. Fees Collected and Waived

  Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Fee Type # of Requests Amount # of Requests Amount
Application 383 $1,915 135 $675
Search 3 $751 0 $0
Production 0 $0 1 $132
Programming 0 $0 0 $0
Preparation 0 $0 0 $0
Alternative Format 0 $0 0 $0
Reproduction 3 $103 8 $540
Total 389 $2,816 144 $1,347

Part 5. Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

AANDC received 168 consultations on a total of 6,284 pages from other government institutions and organizations on their own access requests, in addition to 14 consultations carried over from the previous year, for a total of 182 consultations (Table 5.1). This represents a 43.3% increase from the 127 consultations received in 2010-2011.

The ATIP Directorate completed 177 consultations and will carry over 5 into the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Table 5.1. Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

Consultations Other government institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 148 5,383 20 521
Outstanding from the previous reporting 12 380 2 0
Total 160 5,763 22 521
Closed during the reporting period 155 5,456 22 521
Pending at the end of the reporting period 5 307 0 0

5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions

For the purposes of this section, other government institutions are other institutions subject to the Access to Information Act. In the majority of cases (113 consultation requests, or 72.9% of all consultation requests) AANDC recommended that the government institution disclose the consulted pages in their entirety (Figure 5.2).

Figure 5.2. Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions

Text description of Figure 5.2. - Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other institutions and organizations

During the reporting period:


The bulk of consultations processed by the ATIP Directorate (144 consultation requests, or 92.9% of all consultation requests) were completed within 30 days of their receipt (Table 5.2). There were no occurrences where AANDC required longer than 94 days to provide a response to the consulting institution.

Table 5.2. Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions

  Number of days required to complete consultations
Recommendations 1 to 15
days
16 to 30
days
31 to 60
days
61 to
120 days
121 to
180 days
181 to
365 days
More than
365 days
Total
Disclose entirely 48 59 5 1 0 0 0 113
Disclosed in part 13 17 2 0 0 0 0 32
Exempt entirely 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 4
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 5
Other 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Total 65 79 10 1 0 0 42 155

5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

For the purposes of this section, other organizations include the governments of the provinces, territories and municipalities and of other countries. In the majority of cases (15 consultation requests, or 68.2% of all consultation requests) AANDC recommended that the organization disclose the consulted pages in their entirety (Figure 5.3).

Figure 5.3. Recommendations for consultations received from other organizations

Text description of Figure 5.3. - Recommendations for consultations received from other organizations

During the reporting period:


Most consultation requests closed during the reporting period (20 consultation requests, or 92.9% of all consultation requests) were completed within 30 days (Table 5.3). There were no occurrences where AANDC required longer than 60 days to provide a response to the consulting organization.

Table 5.3. Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

  Number of days required to complete consultations
Recommendations 1 to 15
days
16 to 30
days
31 to 60
days
61 to
120 days
121 to
180 days
181 to
365 days
More than
365 days
Total
Disclose entirely 7 6 2 0 0 0 0 15
Disclosed in part 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 5
Exempt entirely 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Exclude entirely 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 11 9 2 0 0 0 0 22

Part 6. Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

During 2011-2012, AANDC sent 49 consultations on the application of section 69 of the Act to the Cabinet Confidences Section of PCO (Table 6). This is one factor that contributed to the deemed refusal rate in Q1.

Table 6. Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

Number of days Number of responses received Number of responses received past deadline
1 to 15 13 3
16 to 30 12 9
31 to 60 2 1
61 to 120 6 6
121 to 180 8 8
181 to 365 7 7
More then 365 1 1
Total 49 35

Part 7. Resources related to the Access to Information Act

7.1 Costs

In 2011-2012, AANDC spent $748,970 on the administration of the Act, which is a decrease of $101,442 (or 11.9%) from the $850,413 expended 2010-2011. In particular, $171,107 less was devoted to salary while AANDC spent $160,919.98 more on operations, including professional services contracts (Table 7.1). This is indicative of the staffing challenges that the ATIP Directorate faced during the reporting period and its reliance on consultants from temporary help agencies.

Table 7.1. Costs for the administration of the Access to Information Act

Expenditures Amount
Salaries $568,790
Overtime $6,146
Goods and Services $174,034
Professional services contracts $141,471
Other $32,563
Total $748,970

7.2 Human Resources

The Operations Unit within the ATIP Directorate consisted of 13 full-time employees and one part-time employee dedicated partially to access to information activities (Table 7.2). Over the course of the reporting period, AANDC hired 11 consultants or agency personnel to aid in administering the Act and clearing the backlog.

Table 7.2. Human resources dedicated to the administration of the Access to Information Act

Resources Dedicated full-time to ATI Activities Dedicated part-time to ATI Activities Total
Full-time employees 0 13 13
Part-time and casual employees 0 1 1
Regional staff 0 0 0
Consultants and agency personnel 2 9 11
Students 0 0 0
Total 2 23 25

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V. Other ATIP Directorate Functions

Throughout the reporting period, the ATIP Directorate also processed other types of files than formal requests under the Act, and consultation requests from other organizations. These include informal requests from the public as well as various other services provided internally to the Department. In total, the Directorate received nearly 2,300 ATIP-related requests in 2011-2012.

Informal Treatment of Access Requests

AANDC receives requests for information that can be answered without citing the ATIA but keeping within the spirit of the legislation. No five dollar application fee is required.

Requests are treated informally when the information requested is mostly in the public domain or can be disclosed for other reasons (example: a band audit to a band member). In total, the ATIP Directorate treated 108 access-related requests through informal means in 2011-2012.

Any copy of a release package from a previously completed request under the Act, as listed on the AANDC Completed Access to Information Requests web page [Note 2], is captured as an informal access request. In 2011-2012, the Directorate processed 43 such requests, totaling the review and re-release of 209 previous requests under the Act.


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VI. Complaints and Investigations

During the 2011-2012 reporting period, there were 47 complaints registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) against AANDC (Table VI.1). The most frequent reason for a complaint was application of exemptions and exclusions (18 complaints, 38.3%) followed by the application of time extensions (11 complaints, 23.4%). The third-most frequent type of complaint registered was the citation of delay in providing access to records (six complaints, 12.8%).

Table VI.1. Number of complaints received

Type of Complaint Number of Complaints
Exemption/Exclusion 18
Time Extension 11
Delay (Deemed Refusal) 6
No Records/Incomplete 3
Fees 3
Miscellaneous 3
Total 47

Figure VI.1. Percent distribution of complaint reasons

Text description of Figure VI.1. Percent distribution of complaint reasons

During the reporting period:


AANDC also carried over a total of 57 complaints from the previous fiscal period and other years. Having made significant improvements in our compliance rate and backlog of requests in addition to a decline of complaints registered with the OIC, we turned our attention to resolving the backlog of complaints.

AANDC and OIC undertake new Pilot Project in 2011-2012

In Q2, we proposed a pilot project to the OIC to try to resolve the outstanding complaints. The project had several objectives:

We also hoped that if this approach was successful, the OIC would see a decrease in their backlog of AANDC complains and boost their number of files being closed within the 90-day period.

AANDC commends the OIC for agreeing to engage in the Pilot Project and to approach complaint resolution in a more collaborative manner.

Preliminary Results of the AANDC/OIC Pilot Project

Of the 77 complaints initially listed at the outset of the project, 29 have been closed since Q2, amounting to 38% of all outstanding complaints closed. AANDC reiterates that its commitment to early resolution remains strong and it hopes to close all remaining complaints not yet resolved within last fiscal year as quickly as possible. The department has submitted records and rationales for all other complaint files on the pilot project list, and is now awaiting OIC findings on the remainder.

The pilot project highlighted issues that have impacted upon AANDC's processing of requests under the ATIA. While the project has been a worthwhile approach to resolve complaints, the OIC's investigative processes and expectations demanded increased workload and financial and human resources from AANDC that were not foreseen at the outset.

Most notably is the different interpretation of the Act at TBS (who is the authority designated to set policies under the Act) and the OIC (the agent of Parliament who investigates complaints). Specifically, findings from the OIC on the Duty to Assist, on extensions and application fees differ from TBS policy and interpretation of the Act. The impact of this difference on AANDC has been a number of OIC findings on complaints of "well-founded", when in fact the Department has been following TBS policy. The final numbers on complaints for AANDC reflect this issue (Table VI.2).

Another factor explaining the proportion of well-founded complaints is that the OIC finding does not always reflect the complaint. For example, while a complaint may be filed with respect to the application of an exemption, the OIC finding may relate to a different aspect of the file, such as Duty to Assist or search for records, even though such issues were not raised by the complainant. The expansion of investigations by the OIC beyond the original complaint has imposed a significantly higher workload on the Department and has prolonged complaint files that the Department judged to be straightforward.

Nonetheless, AANDC will continue to look for approaches which support early, effective and efficient resolution of any new complaints to the OIC.

Table VI.2. Findings of completed investigations

Type of Finding Number of Occurrences
Well-founded, Resolved without recommendations 22
Discontinued 16
Well-founded with recommendations, Resolved 9
Settled 5
Not well-founded 1
Total 53

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VII. 2011-2012 Points of Interest

Commitment to Transparency

Under the strong leadership and support of its senior management, AANDC went to great effort to build and improve upon the way it administers the ATIA. Immediately upon receiving the recommendations from the Office of the Information Commissioner's (OIC) 2008-2009 Report Card [Note 3] in December 2009, senior management began close tracking and oversight of access to information operations. Under their direction, a workload analysis was undertaken, followed by a report on management gaps and mapping of the ATIP process. Senior management was apprised of the administration of access requests via weekly reports on incoming and outgoing volume. Additionally, a report on record retrieval performance by program areas was developed for monthly tabling at Senior Management Committee.

Furthermore, the classification of the head of the ATIP Directorate was upgraded to executive level, and the incumbent hired in late Q1 had significant experience. AANDC also staffed two permanent positions at the PM-05 level with experienced ATIP professionals to be team leaders and provide ongoing individual coaching and mentoring to analysts as needed.

The resulting improvement is reflected in ATIP's achievement and maintenance of full compliance with the ATIA's statutory deadlines since Q2, as well as the following highlights:

Elimination of Backlog Requests

Last fiscal year, the ATIP Directorate faced significant challenges brought about by the accumulation of late requests carried forward from previous years. The backlog of requests arose primarily from extensive capacity issues and staff turnaround within the Directorate. As a result, by November 2010 the backlog had grown to 115 late requests.

Under the direction of the Associate Deputy Minister, the ATIP Directorate undertook a comprehensive strategy to eliminate the backlog and continue promoting timely access to AANDC records. The strategy was successful in reducing the backlog from 115 to 63 requests in 2010-2011. During the 2011-2012 reporting period, the Directorate continued its strategy to completion, closing its final backlog request in early Q4.

Quicker Response Times

In 2010-2011, it was reported by the Office of the Information Commissioner that the average time AANDC took to complete a request was 128 days. As of Q2 2011-2012, AANDC's average completion time on requests that do not require extension decreased to approximately 22.5 days, well under the 30 days permitted by legislation.

Education and Training

Educating staff on the ATIA as well as its implications on the Department and its functions are of paramount importance to AANDC.

With a solid understanding of ATIA, staff is better able to handle requests for records and respond with greater confidence and efficiency. As such, AANDC has made it a priority to train staff on understanding and implementing the TBS policies and procedures related to the ATIA and meeting the acceptable criteria for institutional ATIP capacity set out within the Management Accountability Framework (MAF) Area of Management (AoM) 12.6.

In total, the ATIP Directorate held 59 training sessions (over 800 employees, including headquarters and regional offices) on the ATIA as part of its AANDC-wide training plan.

Ultimately, staff training will continue to improve AANDC's capacity to meet their legislative obligations, including the "Duty to Assist" requesters, as per the Federal Accountability Act (FAA) and the TBS Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act.

Meetings with AANDC Sector Heads on ATIP Roles and Responsibilities

Beginning in Q4, the Corporate Secretary and ATIP Director began meeting with the Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) of each sector to describe their roles and responsibilities with respect to the administration of the ATIA within the Department. These informational meetings describe the importance of the ATIA, the functions of the ATIP Directorate and the critical pathway of formal requests from their receipt all the way to completion. ADMs were made aware of key players, processes, timeframes, sign-offs and reporting instruments that are involved so that AANDC remains consistent and timely in its responses. These meetings have been fruitful and will continue into 2012-2013.

Upgrade to Case Management Software

In Q3, the ATIP Directorate upgraded its case management software (AccessPro Suite Version 2.1), which provides greater support and resolves several reoccurring errors. During Q4, several staff members were provided with system administrator rights and training, allowing the Directorate greater capacity to customize or correct system issues in-house.


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VIII. Changes to the Organization, Policies, Guidelines and Procedures

Organization Changes

As described above, the head of the ATIP Directorate was upgraded to executive level and several key positions were staffed during the reporting period. The Directorate still faces the challenge of filling certain vacant positions within its Operations Unit, but there were no integral changes to the organizational structure overall.

Procedural Changes

AANDC implemented the following procedural changes during the reporting period:

Updated Accountability Reporting to Senior Management

As an accountability measure within the Department, the ATIP Directorate produces a monthly report to Senior Management Committee (SMC) indicating sector and regional office performance with respect to the retrieval of records. This report was revised in Q3 for greater accuracy and tracks the number of on-time and late retrieval responses per month. The report also captures workload and performance trends over multiple months and fiscal years.

Internal Advisory Process

In Q4, the ATIP Directorate revised its internal advisory process and mapped out the critical processes involved in completing formal requests. This pathway denotes the key roles, actions and timeframes that Departmental staff is responsible for in responding to a request under the Act. This pathway was approved by the Associate Deputy Minister and circulated to Senior Management Committee Members.

Sector Sign-off

At the request of senior management, the ATIP Directorate implemented a process to ensure all callouts for records were signed off at the ADM level. In this way, AANDC has ensured that the set of records provided by each sector is complete and benefits from high level recommendations.

5 and 7 Day Reminder System

Integrated into the critical pathway of formal requests is a reminder system to advise sectors of their impending due dates for record retrieval. When the ATIP Directorate tasks a sector with retrieving records that are relevant to a request, the sector is given seven calendar days to complete an Impact Statement and provide these records. During this timeframe, the Intake Unit will send email reminders to sector ATIP Liaison Officers (ALOs) on the fifth and seventh days to ensure that ALOs are aware of approaching deadlines.

Monday Management Meetings

At the beginning of each week, the management team of the ATIP Directorate meets to focus on upcoming files, ensuring that requests are on track and that impending releases are completed within the statutory deadline.

Provision of Electronic Records

As of Q2, records were provided to the requester on CD-ROM in the vast majority of cases. Only in exceptional cases were paper copies provided in keeping with the principles of the duty to assist the requester.

By focusing on electronic response packages, photocopy and reproduction fees were eliminated altogether. Electronic transmittal of records greatly reduces the amount of paper used in the Directorate and eliminates the time required to print release packages. In an ongoing effort to streamline and expedite the administration of requests, the ATIP Directorate is examining the feasibility of electronic intake.


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Appendix A - Order of Delegation of the Access to Information Act dated November 3, 2010.

Access to Information Act - Delegation Order

Pursuant to the powers of designation conferred upon me by Section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the persons exercising the functions or positions of Corporate Secretary, Corporate Secretariat (position number 12294), and the departmental Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator (position number 62185) and their respective successors, including in their absence, a person or officer designated in writing to act in the place of the holder of any such functions or positions are hereby designated to exercise those powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the Head of the government institution under the Act, and as set out in the attached Schedule A.

The departmental Access to Information and Privacy Senior Advisors (position numbers 62364, 12590 and 12061) and their respective successors, including in her/his absence, a person or officer designated in writing as being authorized to act in the place of the holder of any such function or position, are hereby designated to exercise those powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the Head of the government institution under the Act, and as set out in the attached Schedule B.


___________________________________________
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Dated at Gatineau, the 3rd of November, 2010

SCHEDULE A

DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE TO DELEGATION ORDER

DESIGNATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 73 OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

Sections and Powers, Duties or Functions
6
Advise requesters that we need additional information to proceed with their request

7(a)
Give written notice to requestor that we can proceed with the request

8(1)
Transfer request to another institution or accept transfer from another institution

9
Extend time limits

10
Refuse to acknowledge or deny the existence of records

11
Charge additional fees

12(2)(3)
Provide access in alternate format

13
Exempt information obtained in

14
Exempt information pertaining to federal-provincial affairs

15
Exempt information pertaining to international affairs and/or defence

16
Exempt information pertaining to law enforcement and investigations

17
Exempt information pertaining to the safety of individuals

18
Exempt information pertaining to the economic interests of Canada

19
Exempt personal information

20
Exempt or disclose third party information

21
Exempt information pertaining to advice, decision-making processes of government plans and positions etc.

22
Exempt information pertaining to testing procedures or audits

23
Exempt information pertaining to solicitor-client privilege

24
Exempt information subject to statutory prohibitions or other Acts of Parliament

25
Sever information

26
Exempt information to be published within 90 days

27(1)(4)
Notify third parties of their rights to provide comments/representations regarding the disclosure of their records

28(4)
third party representations; make a decision as to whether to disclose the record or part thereof; and, notify third party of right to appeal to Federal Court

29(1)
Disclose information on Information Commissioner's recommendation

33
Advise the Information Commissioner of any third party involvement

35(2)
Make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation

37(4)
Release information to complainant

43(1)
Issue a notice to a third party of an application for Court review

44(2)
a notice to an applicant that a third party has applied for Court review

52
Request special rules for hearings

69
Exclude Cabinet Confidences

71
Inspect and exempt information in manuals

72(1)
Prepare Annual Report to Parliament

77
Carry out responsibilities conferred to the Head of the institution by the regulations made under section 77 which are not included in the above

SCHEDULE B

DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE TO DELEGATION ORDER

DESIGNATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 73 OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

Sections and Powers, Duties or Functions
6
Advise requesters that we need additional information to proceed with their request

7(a)
Give written notice to requestor that we can proceed with the request

8(1)
Transfer request to another institution or accept transfer from another institution

9
Extend time limits

11
Charge additional fees

27(1)(4)
Notify third parties of their rights to provide comments/ representations regarding the disclosure of their records

28(1)(2)
Receive third party representations

28(4)
Make a decision as to whether to disclose the record or part thereof; and, notify third party of right to appeal to Federal Court

33
Advise the Information Commissioner of any third party involvement

35(2)
Make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation

43(1)
Issue a notice to a third party of an application for Court review

44(2)
Issue a notice to an applicant that a third party has applied for Court review

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Appendix B - Order of Delegation of the Access to Information Act dated August 30, 2011.

Access to Information Act - Delegation Order

Pursuant to the powers of designation conferred upon me by Section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the persons exercising the functions or positions of Deputy Minister (position number 00001), Associate Deputy Minister (position number 00000006), Deputy Minister's Office; Corporate Secretary, (position number 12294), Corporate Secretariat; and the departmental Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator (position number 20003872) and their respective successors, including in their absence, a person or officer designated in writing to act in the place of the holder of any such functions or positions are hereby designated to exercise those powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the Head of the government institution under the Act, and as set out in the attached Schedule A.

The departmental Access to Information and Privacy Senior Advisors (position numbers 62364, 12590 and 12061) and their respective successors, including in her/his absence, a person or officer designated in writing as being authorized to act in the place of the holder of any such function or position, are hereby designated to exercise those powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the Head of the government institution under the Act, and as set out in the attached Schedule B.


___________________________________________
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Dated at Gatineau, the 30 of August, 2011

SCHEDULE A

DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE TO DELEGATION ORDER

DESIGNATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 73 OF THE ATIA

Sections and Powers, Duties or Functions
6
Advise requestors that we need additional information to proceed with their request

7(a)
Give written notice to requestor that we can proceed with the request

8(1)
Transfer request to another institution or accept transfer from another institution

9
Extend time limits

10
Refuse to acknowledge or deny the existence of records

11
Charge additional fees

12(2)(3)
Provide access in alternate format

13
Exempt information obtained in confidence

14
Exempt information pertaining to federal-provincial affairs

15
Exempt information pertaining to international affairs and/or defence

16
Exempt information pertaining to law enforcement and investigations

17
Exempt information pertaining to the safety of individuals

18
Exempt information pertaining to the economic interests of Canada

19
Exempt personal information

20
Exempt or disclose third party information

21
Exempt information pertaining to advice, decision-making processes of government plans and positions etc.

22
Exempt information pertaining to testing procedures or audits

23
Exempt information pertaining to solicitor-client privilege

24
Exempt information subject to statutory prohibitions or other Acts of Parliament

25
Sever information

26
Exempt information to be published within 90 days

27(1)(4)
Notify third parties of their rights to provide communications/representations regarding the disclosure of their records

28(4)
Receive third party representations; make a decision as to whether to disclose the record or part thereof; and, notify third party of the right to appeal to the Federal Court

29(1)
Disclose information on Information Commissioner's recommendation

33
Advise the Information Commissioner of any third party involvement

35(2)
Make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation

37(4)
Release information to complainant

43(1)
Issue a notice to a third party of an application for Court review

44(2)
Issue a notice to an applicant that a third party has applied for Court review

52
Request special rules for hearings

69
Exclude Cabinet Confidences

71
Inspect and exempt information in manuals

72(1)
Prepare Annual Report to Parliament

77
Carry out responsibilities conferred to the Head of institution by the regulations made under section 77 which are not included in the above

SCHEDULE B

DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE TO DELEGATION ORDER

DESIGNATION PURSUANT TO SECTION 73 OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

Sections and Powers, Duties or Functions
6
Advise requestors that we need additional information to proceed with their request

7(a)
Give written notice to requestor that we can proceed with the request

8(1)
transfer request to another institution or accept transfer from another institution

9
Extend time limits

11
Charge additional fees

27(1)(4)
Notify third parties of their rights to provide comments/representations regarding the disclosure of their records

28(1)(2)
Receive third party representations.

28(4)
Make a decision as to whether to disclose the record or part thereof; and, notify third party of right to appeal to Federal Court

33
Advise the Information Commissioner of any third party involvement

35(2)
Make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation

43(1)
Issue a notice to a third party of an application for Court review

44(2)
Issue a notice to an applicant that a third party has applied for Court review

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APPENDIX C: AANDC 2011-2012 Statistical Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act.

Reporting period: 4/1/2011 to 31-Mar-2012. Click here to view the complete form  .

Part 1 - Requests under the Access to Information Act

Part 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period

Part 3 - Extensions

Part 4 - Fees

Part 5 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

Part 6 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

Part 7 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act


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Footnotes:

  1. Access to Information Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. A-1, p. 46. (return to source paragraph)
  2. Completed Access to Information Requests, http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/prodis/atip/rqs-eng.asp (return to source paragraph)
  3. Out of Time: 2008-2009 Report Cards, 2010, p.117 (return to source paragraph)
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