ARCHIVED - Access to Information Act
Annual Report

WarningThis page has been archived.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.



Notice

The Public Service Commission has moved since this document was first published and therefore the address and telephone numbers indicated may no longer be accurate. Please consult the Contact Us page for up-to-date contact information.


April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009

Table of contents

Introduction

The Access to Information Act (Revised Statues of Canada, Chapter A-1, 1985) was proclaimed on July 1, 1983. The Act has been amended as a result of the royal assessment of the Federal Accountability Act on December 12, 2006. Certain provisions came into force on December 12, 2006 and others took effect on April 1, 2007 and September 1, 2007.

The Access to Information Act (ATIA) gives Canadian citizens and individuals present in Canada a broad right of access to information contained in government records subject to certain specific and limited exceptions.

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act requires that the head of every federal government institution shall prepare for submission to Parliament an annual report on the administration of the Act within the institution during each fiscal year.

This Annual Report provides a summary of the management and administration of the Access to Information Act within the Public Service Commission of Canada for the fiscal year 2008-2009.

Additional Copies

Additional copies of this report can be obtained by contacting:

Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office
Public Service Commission of Canada
L'Esplande Laurier
300 Laurier Avenue West
West Tower
Ottawa ON  K1A 0M7
Telephone:  613-995-5316
Fax:  613-992-7519

Part I — General Information on the Public Service Commission

Mission, Vision and Values - Striving for Excellence

The Public Service Commission (PSC) of Canada is dedicated to building a public service that strives for excellence. The PSC protects merit, non-partisanship, representativeness and, the use of both official languages.

The PSC safeguards the integrity of staffing in the public service and the political impartiality of public servants. It develops policies and guidance for public service managers and holds them accountable for their staffing decisions. The PSC conducts audits and investigations to confirm the effectiveness of the staffing system and to make improvements. As an independent agency, the PSC reports its results to Parliament.

The PSC recruits talented Canadians to the public service, drawn from across the country. It continually renews its recruitment services to meet the evolving needs of a modern and innovative public service.

Values Guiding the PSC's Actions

In serving Parliament and Canadians, the PSC is guided by and proudly adheres to the following organizational values:

  • Integrity in our actions;
  • Fairness in our decisions;
  • Respect in our relationships; and
  • Transparency in our communications.

Mandate and Strategic Outcome

Mandate

The mandate of the Commission is described in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).

The PSC is an independent agency reporting to Parliament, mandated to safeguard the integrity of the public service staffing system and the political impartiality of public servants. The PSC's mandate combines staffing-related authorities with oversight functions. The PSC also provides staffing and assessment services to help federal organizations meet the changing needs of the public service. Under the system of delegated authority provided by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), the independence of the PSC particularly with respect to its responsibility to oversee the integrity of the appointment system and preserve the non-partisanship of the public service is essential.

Under sections 11 and 12 of the PSEA, the PSC is responsible more specifically for:

  • appointing or providing for the appointment of persons to or from the public service; 
  • conducting investigations and audits;
  • administering the provisions of the Act relating to political activities of employees and deputy heads; and
  • performing any other public service functions assigned by the Governor in Council.

Public Service Commission's Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

In order to effectively pursue its mandate, the PSC aims to achieve the following strategic outcome.  The chart below illustrates the PSC's complete framework of program and activities and program sub-activities that contribute to the achievement of the PSC's strategic outcome.

Public Service Commission’s Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture

Public Service Commission's Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture - long description

Program Activity 1.1.0 – Appointment Integrity and Political Neutrality

The Appointment Integrity and Political Neutrality activity develops and maintains a policy and regulatory framework for safeguarding the integrity of public service staffing and ensuring political neutrality.  This activity includes establishing policies and standards, providing advice, interpretation and guidance and administering delegated and non-delegated authorities.

Program Activity 1.2.0 – Oversight of Integrity of Staffing and Political Neutrality

The oversight of Integrity of Staffing and Political Neutrality activity provides an accountability regime from the implementation of the appointment policy and regulatory framework for safeguarding the integrity of public service staffing and ensuring political neutrality. This activity includes monitoring departments' and agencies' compliance with legislative requirements, conducting audits, studies and evaluations, carrying out investigations and reporting to Parliament on the integrity of public service staffing.

Program Activity 1.3.0 – Staffing Services and Assessment

The Staffing Services and Assessment activity develops and maintains systems that link Canadians and public servants seeking employment opportunities in the federal public service with hiring departments and agencies. It provides assessment-related products and services in the form of research and development, consultation, assessment operations and counselling for use in recruitment, selection and development throughout the federal public service. This activity also includes delivering staffing services, programs and products to departments and agencies, to Canadians and to public servants, through client service units located across Canada.

Program Activity 2.1.0 – Internal Services

The Internal Services program activity develops and monitors corporate management planning frameworks and policies related to the Management Accountability Framework (MAF), finance, human resources management (HRM), information technology (IT), communications and other administrative and support services; provides central services and systems in support of all PSC programs, including the offices of the President and Commissioners; and formulates and implements policies, plans, guidelines, standards, processes and procedures to support the decision-making process of the Commission.

Access to Information Activities of the PSC

The Public Service Commission has a Departmental Coordinator of Access to Information that is responsible and accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures to enable the efficient processing of requests under the Access to Information Act.

The Coordinator is also responsible for related policy, systems and procedures emanating from the Act, such as the government's policy on information collection and public opinion research.

The ATIP Office further consists of one Manager and one senior Analyst. For the last two months of the reporting period, the ATIP Office seconded a third PSC employee, on a temporary basis, to help implement the new ATIP software and the re-alignment of the InfoSource.

The activities of the Coordinator include:

  • processing requests made under the Access to Information Act;
  • acting as spokesperson for the PSC in dealings with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information Commissioner, and other government departments and agencies related to the Access to Information Act;
  • responding to consultation requests submitted by other federal institutions for PSC documents;
  • reviewing and approving information collection in accordance with the Government Policy on Information Collection and Public Opinion Research;
  • preparing the annual report to Parliament and other statutory reports, as well as other material that may be required by central agencies;
  • developing policies, procedures and guidelines for the orderly implementation of the Access to Information Act by the PSC;
  • promoting awareness to ensure the PSC's responsiveness to the obligations of the Access to Information Act;
  • monitoring the PSC's compliance with the Access to Information Act, regulations and relevant procedures and policies; and
  • providing, to PSC employees, advice and awareness sessions on the provisions of the Access to Information Act and Treasury Board policies and their impact on various program initiatives.

Implementation of a new tracking system and imaging software (2008-2009)

The ATIP office is replacing the ATIPflow tracking system with the new AccessPro Case Management System (APCM) software. The software application and data will reside on a more stable server.

Also, new imaging software solution, AccesPro Redaction (APR), is being implemented. The system rapidly copies and severs an increasingly larger volume of records.

During the reporting period, the ATIP employees have followed training sessions and both software systems have been intensively tested by the ATIP Office. These systems will be fully operational by Spring / Summer 2009.

InfoSource

In the course of the fiscal year, a Full assessment was conducted by the Treasury Board Secretariat for the PSC, as part of the Management Accountability Framework (MAF), the InfoSource introduction has been changed to reflect the PCS's Program Activity Architecture (PAA). Over the course of the next three (3) years with resources permitting, the PSC will be working on revamping its InfoSource Chapter to re-align the classes of records and personal information banks to reflect the PAA.

Part II — Report on the Access to Information Act

Highlights

Requests received

The number of requests received under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) has increased since last year. From April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009, the Public Service Commission (PSC) received 60 new requests while the previous year, in 2007-2008, it received 50 requests.

Although the number of requests was higher, the number of pages of information reviewed was a little lower: 10,101 pages of records in 2008-2009 versus 13,000 the previous year.

Requests completed

As in previous years, the requests completed covered the entire gamut of the PSC's activities. More specifically:

  • 9 requests (20%) pertained to staffing-related activities such as staffing of executive level positions, priority administration files, staffing delegation statistics, establishment of tests and standards for selection, and Employment Equity initiatives.
  • 8 requests (17%) pertained to various tests, evaluations and assessments done by the PSC and more specifically for statistical information regarding language tests.
  • 6 requests (13%) were from individuals seeking miscellaneous information.6 requests (13%) pertained to personal information: selection processes, personal information contained within the PSC.
  • 4 requests (9%) related to contracts, call-ups for temporary help, lists of new term and casual employees, and telecommunications costs. NOTE: This is a substantial decrease of number of standard non-complex files received from previous years (approx. 40% to 9% of requests received).
  • 2 requests (4%) pertained to investigations: investigations into political candidates.
  • 11 requests (24 %) were not processed by the PSC. The requests were either abandoned, transferred or treated informally.

As was the case last year, the preferred method of access reported by the PSC, as well as by departments and agencies throughout the federal government, is to receive copies of government records as opposed to simply view them.

Completion time

This year, 46 requests were completed, of which 42 (91%) of the requests were completed within the prescribed legislative time frame:

  • 35 requests (77%) were completed within 30 days;
  • 8 requests (17%) were completed within 31 to 60 days;
  • 1 request (2%) were completed between 61 to 120 days, and
  • 2 (4%) were completed in 121 days or over.

Consultations

The PSC received 22 requests for consultations from other government departments and agencies. These requests amounted to a review of over 600 pages of information. After a thorough review of the files, the PSC determined that in 11 of the 23 requests (completed over the course of the reporting period), information pertaining to the PSC could be released in full.

The requests for consultation pertained to the Public Service Employment Act, staffing and priority administration files, second language evaluation and briefing books material.

The PSC itself consulted other government departments and agencies for 13 of its requests.

Complaints

Three (3) complaints regarding requests addressed to the PSC were lodged with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) during this reporting period, and 3 (received from previous years) were closed.

Complaints received:
  • One (1) complaint dealt with the refusal of access. The requester alleges the PSC wrongly withheld information under sections 19 (personal information) and 23 (Solicitor-Client privilege) for portions of emails between Madame Maria Barrados, President of the PSC and Madame Jennifer Stoddart, Commissioner of the Office of the Privacy. The Information Commissioner continues its investigation into this complaint.
  • One (1) complaint dealt with the refusal of access. More specifically, the requester believes records should exist in regards to a request for briefing notes on the Questions and Answers Cards prepared for the Minister responsible for the PSC during for the period of August 1, 2008 to October 9, 2008. The Information Commissioner continues its investigation into this complaint.
  • One (1) complaint dealt with the searching, programming and computer fees associated with the retrieval of the requested information. The Information Commissioner continues its investigation into this complaint.
Complaints closed:
  • Two (2) complaints dealt with allegations of extensions being improperly and unreasonably applied. The PSC was able to justify the extensions (interference with the operations of the PSC), making the extensions valid. These complaints were deemed as not substantiated.
  • One (1) complaint dealt with an extension of time, in which the requester alleges that it was improperly and unreasonably being applied. The PSC, in this instance, provided the requester with the records in accordance to Rule 317 of the Federal Court Act; therefore, the records were considered in the public domain, and the reason for extension for retrieval and consultations were in the end, not required. This complaint was deemed as resolved.

Advice and Training

The Access to Information and Privacy Office continued to provide advice and training on the provisions of the Access to Information and Privacy Acts and its impact on PSC programs and initiatives:

The ATIP Office participated in 5 "PSC orientation sessions for new employees" were ATIP information was provided to over 100 new PSC employees.

Seven (7) ATIP awareness sessions were scheduled to be given to PSC employees for this year. Four (4) sessions were given to 62 PSC employees from the Audit and Data Services Branch, the Staffing and Assessment Services Branch and the Corporate Management Branch. The other 3 sessions were abandoned or brought into the next fiscal year due to the lack of resources over certain periods of the fiscal year.

One hundred and three (103) individuals including PSC managers, public servants and members of the public consulted the office for advice on the provisions of the ATIA related to various PSC topics like political activities, the Public Service Employment Act and Regulations, investigations and recourse files.

Finally, the ATIP Office responded to ten informal requests for records or for review of records for publication over the course of the reporting period.

Historical comparisons

Requests
  2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
Requests received 17 40 48 62 67 98 79 50 60
Requests completed 17 38 50 57 70 94 81 53 46

Exemptions invoked
  2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
13(1)c) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
16(1)c) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
18 (b) 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
19 (1) 2 5 8 27 27 36 28 13 10
20 (1)a) 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0
20 (1)b) 0 0 0 2 3 5 0 0 1
20 (1)c) 0 0 0 1 3 5 2 2 0
21 (1)a) 0 0 0 2 4 5 5 3 2
21 (1)b) 0 0 0 2 4 2 3 4 0
21 (1)c) 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 1 0
21 (1)d) 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 0
22 1 0 0 2 1 1 3 5 3
23 0 0 1 3 3 2 2 2 2
24 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
26 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0

Exclusions invoked
  2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
68(b) 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 0
69(1)(a) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0

Appendix - Statistical Report

Statistical Report on the disposition of complaints by category

Complaints processed

  • Received during 2008-09: 3
  • Closed during 2008-09: 3
  • Carried forward to 2009-10: 3

Received

  • Delays/extensions: 1
  • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 2

Closed

  • Settled after investigation
    • Delays/extensions: 0
    • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 0
  • Resolved
    • Delays/extensions: 1
    • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 0
  • Withdrawn
    • Delays/extensions: 0
    • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 0
  • Founded
    • Delays/extensions: 0
    • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 0
  • Unfounded
    • Delays/extensions: 2
    • Non-disclosure/exemptions/missing records: 0