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Section II – Analysis of Program Activities by Strategic Outcome

2.1 Strategic Outcome

All of OIC's program activity and efforts aim to achieve its single strategic outcome which is to ensure that individuals' rights under the Access to Information Act are safeguarded.

The following section describes the Office's program activity and identifies the expected results, performance indicators and targets. This section also explains how the Office plans on meeting the expected results and presents the financial and non-financial resources that will be dedicated to the program activity.

2.1.1 Program Activity: Compliance with Access to Information Obligations

Program Activity:
Human Resources (FTEs) and Planned Spending ($ thousands)
2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
FTEs Planned Spending FTEs Planned Spending FTEs Planned Spending
75 8,201 75 8,129 75 8,129

Strategic Outcome

Program Activity Expected Results Performance Indicators Targets
1. Individuals who have filed complaints with the Information Commissioner benefit from an effective and timely investigative process. Effectiveness and timeliness of the investigative process - 90 percent of investigations adhere to quality assurance standards at first round review.

- 85 percent administrative complaints are resolved within 90 calendar days of their being registered, as per practice direction on Triage of Complaints.

2. Institutions meet their obligations under the Act and co-operate in addressing institutional and systemic issues affecting access to information. Responsiveness of institutions to OIC's advice and recommendations - 95 percent of recommendations from investigations of complaints are adopted.
- 80 percent of recommendations from report cards and from systemic investigations are adopted.
3. All stakeholders receive relevant and timely information on ATI issues and the role of oversight bodies in ensuring compliance with legislation. OIC's influence on promoting compliance through information and partnerships - Increase in national media coverage of OIC's reports, major decisions/announcements and collaborations

- Accurate reporting and positive feedback (as determined by media content analysis)

- 100 percent of OIC's corporate/special reports, findings of noteworthy investigations and summaries of ATI requests are posted on the Office's website as per proactive disclosure policy (being developed).

4. Parliament receives clear, relevant information and timely, objective advice about the access implications of legislation, jurisprudence, regulations and policies. OIC's influence on the development of relevant legislation and policy through work in parliamentary committee - 85 percent of access-relevant parliamentary committee reports referring to OIC's advice

- Accurate references and positive feedback (as determined by content analysis)

5. Courts receive useful representations and relevant evidence about access issues, the proper interpretation of the provisions of the Act and of related statutes, regulations and jurisprudence. OIC's contribution to the interpretation of relevant legislation and jurisprudence - 90 percent of court cases where judgements support OIC's representation or considered OIC's evidence

Program Activity Summary

The Access to Information Act is the legislative authority for the oversight activities of the Information Commissioner of Canada, which are: to investigate complaints from individuals and corporations; to review the performance of federal institutions in complying with their obligations under the Act; to report results of investigations/reviews and recommendations to complainants, federal institutions, and Parliament; to pursue judicial enforcement; and to provide advice to Parliament on access to information matters.

Planning Highlights

In 2010-2011, the OIC will work to achieve its expected results and targets by undertaking the following activities.

Complaints Resolution

The Office will continue to streamline and adjust its investigations management process, as required by its new business model. In particular, it will monitor and evaluate the overall success of improvements related to staffing, timelines, productivity, monitoring and reporting. Appropriate performance assessments and reviews will be conducted through the Internal Audits.

In consultation with institutions and complainants, the Office will assess the effectiveness of its new online complaint form as well as new intake procedures that were put in place in the fall of 2009. These new procedures were widely communicated through the online publication of two practice directions: “Triage of complaints” and “Requesting Records from Institutions.”

The ultimate goal for 2010-2011 is to completely eliminate the OIC's historical backlog of pre-April 2008 complaints. On an ongoing basis, the Office intends to limit its year end inventory of newly registered complaints to a manageable level of 200-500 cases by 2013-2014.

Performance reviews and systemic actions
The OIC will pursue the implementation of its Three-Year Plan for Report Cards. By integrating annual performance reviews of selected institutions, investigations of systemic issues and evidence drawn from investigations of complaints, the Office enhances its analytical capability and therefore the value of its findings, without duplication of efforts and undue reporting burden on institutions. The plan was published in July 2009 to make the process as transparent as possible while also encouraging proactive compliance on the part of institutions.

A special report to be submitted to Parliament by April 1, 2010 will discuss year one outcomes of the Three-Year Plan, including:

  • follow-ups on progress achieved by the ten institutions assessed in 2008-2009, as well as Treasury Board Secretariat, in order to improve compliance with obligations under the Act and address a number of systemic issues affecting performance in responding to access requests;
  • OIC's progress in responding to institutions' feedback about the report cards exercise, notably by establishing a new classification of findings; and
  • performance reviews of 24 institutions who had at least five time-related complaints in 2008-2009.

In 2010-2011, the Office will monitor the implementation of resulting OIC recommendations and institutional action plans to remedy timeliness issues. In accordance with the Three-Year Plan, the OIC will also proceed to review the performance of a selected group of institutions among those that the Federal Accountability Act added to the scope of the Access to Information Act, starting in 2007.

In addition, the OIC will use the information gathered to conduct an in-depth systemic investigation. This investigation will further analyse the use and duration of time extensions, while looking into their root causes and impact, which may amount to refusal of access.

Initiatives to maximize compliance and promote a pro-disclosure culture

Maximizing compliance is sometimes best achieved through the use of various tools and activities that are interdependent in complementing investigations and systemic actions. While developing its new business model, the Office established a compliance continuum of such tools and activities, which it will use, in particular, to extend the impact of its investigative work and recommendations, to facilitate compliance and to promote individuals' rights under the Access to Information Act.

  • Facilitating compliance through information: In 2010-2011, the OIC will continue to publish various documents in plain language that will serve to explain its investigative process and disseminate its findings and recommendations. The Office recently disseminated two practice directions to provide greater insight into how it handles complaints, conducts investigations and resolves contentious issues. Additional practice directions are in the works for 2010-2011, notably on time frames and requirements for filing a complaint under the Access to Information Act and on commitment dates to disclose information.
  • Best practices in proactive disclosure: Recent developments and trends, at home and abroad, increasingly support and call for greater use of proactive disclosure of public sector information. Notwithstanding the positive duty to assist information requestors, there are a number of benefits to disseminate information before access requests are made. All experts, including members of the ETHI parliamentary committee, have taken a stance in favour of greater access to information through proactive disclosure as a key determinant of government transparency and accountability, citizen engagement, collaboration and innovation.
  • Promoting requesters' rights through partnerships: The Office will continue to collaborate with partners and counterparts, across Canada, to promote compliance with legislative requirements, raise awareness of underlying causes of and solutions to systemic issues, as well as the need for greater proactive disclosure.

Parliamentary relations: The OIC expects to provide continued support to the Interim Information Commissioner in her role as Officer of Parliament as legislators pursue their work and discussions on reforming the Act and improving the way it is administered. To obtain the best possible information to support its advice and recommendations, the Office will continue to conduct national and international benchmarking and to document best practices worldwide through collaborative endeavours and partnerships with national, foreign and international experts and organizations.

Court cases: In 2010-2011, a number of ongoing or new court cases will likely involve the participation of Office counsel to clearly communicate the perspective of the Information Commissioner on a variety of access-related issues. Some of these issues are linked to Commissioner's findings from investigations over the years; others deal with issues of broad application that might affect the interpretation of the Act.

For example, the Supreme Court will hear appeals from the Information Commissioner in four cases that raise significant issues on what constitutes a record “under the control of a government institution” and whether information relating to Ministers' positions and functions falls under this definition. In addition, a judicial review application brought by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation before the Federal Court will test the Information Commissioner's power to order production of records over which s. 68.1 exclusion is claimed.

Benefits for Canadians

Under the Access to Information Act, anyone who makes a request for information to a federal institution and is dissatisfied with the response or the way it was handled has the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Office is committed to investigating these complaints in an objective and efficient manner. This investigative function is crucial to safeguarding the rights of individual Canadians to access government information.

To maximize compliance across federal institutions and reduce the number of complaints it receives, the Office takes a proactive approach to widespread or recurring non-compliance issues by investigating their root causes and recommending appropriate solutions. The Office also uses a variety of tools of general and specific applications to extend the impact of its investigations and systemic actions. This in turn maximizes service to Canadians.

In this same spirit, the Office's performance assessments, parliamentary relations and all related communications activities and collaborations focus on ensuring that Canadians know that they have the right to complain about the way their information requests are handled and that institutions have a responsibility to respond to those requests as quickly and completely as possible within the legal deadlines.

2.1.2 Program Activity: Internal Services

Program Activity:
Human Resources (FTEs) and Planned Spending ($ thousands)
2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
FTEs Planned Spending FTEs Planned Spending FTEs Planned Spending
31 3,861 31 3,807 31 3,539

Program Activity Summary

Internal Services are groups of related activities and resources that are administered to support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of an organization. These groups are: Management and Oversight Services; Communications Services; Human Resources Management Services; Financial Management Services; Information Management Services; Information Technology Services; Material Services; Acquisition Services; Travel and Other Administrative Services. Internal Services include only those activities and resources that apply across an organization and not those provided specifically to a program.

Planning Highlights

Enhanced IM and IT infrastructure: The OIC will continue to integrate and standardize its information management (IM) and information technology (IT) in accordance with its IM/IT strategy. Implementation of the IM/IT Strategic Plan 2009-2014 has already substantially improved the organization's productivity.

Sustaining HR capacity: The successful implementation of the OIC's new business model largely depends on its ability to attract, develop and retain a group of highly productive and technology-savvy investigators. As of April 2010, the OIC expects that its full contingent of investigator positions will be staffed. However, as this group is currently in high demand across the government, staffing will remain an ongoing activity within the OIC and will likely be completed in accordance with the organization's integrated HR Plan for 2009-2014.

Strategic planning and financial reporting: While introducing its new business model, the Office has proceeded to integrate and streamline its corporate planning and reporting to ensure closer alignment and improve performance measurement and management. In 2010-2011, it will consolidate those gains by completing its review of the various items under its program activity, particularly its performance indicators and targets, to ensure that it can accurately measure its performance and that its work is focused on fulfilling its strategic outcome. The Office will also reassess the risks that could potentially affect the achievement of the organization's objectives, taking into account its dynamic environment and the impact of the new business model. This assessment is essential to implementing a proactive approach to risk management, which will eventually become a critical element of the OIC's annual planning process.