Annual Report to Parliament 2013-2014 - Access to Information Act

NRC Annual Report to Parliament 2012-2013 – Access to Information Act (DOCX, 2.6 MB)

I. Introduction

The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to provide a right of access to information contained in records under the control of government institutions. The information is subject to certain limited and specific exemptions. The Act is intended to complement and not replace existing procedures for access to government information.

In accordance with Section 72 of the Access to Information Act, this thirtieth Annual Report on the administration of the Access to Information Act at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) describes how NRC discharged its responsibilities in relation to the Act in the fiscal year 2013-2014. The Annual Report is to be tabled in Parliament in accordance with section 72 of the Access to Information Act.

Mandate of the National Research Council of Canada

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is an agency of the Government of Canada established in 1916. As stated in the NRC Act, the agency is responsible for: undertaking, assisting or promoting scientific and industrial research in different fields of importance to Canada; establishing, operating and maintaining a national science library; publishing and selling or otherwise distributing such scientific and technical information as the Council deems necessary; investigating standards and methods of measurement; working on the standardization and certification of scientific and technical apparatus and instruments and materials used or usable by Canadian industry; operating and administering any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada; administering NRC's research and development activities, including contributions used to support a number of international activities; and providing vital scientific and technological services to the research and industrial communities.

II. Organizational structure

The Executive Vice President and Secretary General had overall responsibility for ensuring that NRC’s policies, procedures and practices are in line with the application and administration of the Access to Information Act. As shown in the Delegation Order, the Executive Vice President and Secretary General delegated some of this authority to the Director, Corporate Governance and Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator. During the period covered by this report, the NRC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office was part of the NRC Secretary General’s Office (NRC-SGO).

The NRC ATIP office is a 3.5 person team. In 2013-2014, however, the ATIP Unit went through a period during which there was a shortage of staff, an administrative assistant was hired on a part-time basis in order to provide support to the team and to manage the electronic software application.

The NRC ATIP office works closely with the NRC Records Services, NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program ATIP liaison officer, NRC Human Resources Branch ATIP liaison officer, the NRC Communications Branch and senior management across the organization. Procedures are in place to process all formal access to information requests.

The ATIP office is responsible for the coordination and implementation of policies, guidelines and procedures to ensure the organization’s compliance with the Access to Information Act.  To that end, the office provides the following services to the organization:

  • Promotes awareness of the Access to Information Act within the organization
  • Processes and manages access to information requests and complaints
  • Manages the relevant electronic management system
  • Responds to access-related matters in the Management Accountability Framework
  • Processes consultations received from other institutions
  • Provides advice and guidance to employees and senior officials on access related matters
  • Prepares an Annual Report to Parliament
  • Coordinates updates to the Info Source publications
  • Reviews departmental documents, such as audit and evaluation reports, prior to their proactive disclosure on the organization’s website, Parliamentary Questions and Harassment Reports
  • Develops internal procedures
  • Participates in forums for the ATIP community, such as the Treasury Board Secretariat ATIP Community meetings and working groups.
In accordance with Section 71 of the Access to Information Act, the NRC has various Information Centres that are the designated locations where the public may inspect manuals used by employees to administer or carry out programs or activities that affect the public. The main NRC library is located in Building M-55, NRC Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, Ontario.

III. Delegation of authority

For the period of this report, the NRC President delegated the responsibilities associated with the administration of the Access to Information Act to Executive Vice President and Secretary General and to the Director, Corporate Governance. Operational responsibility for the application of the Act has been delegated to the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator.

A detailed signed Delegation Order can be found at Annex A.

IV. Interpretation of statistical report

Annex B provides a summarized statistical report on the access requests received and processed by the National Research Council of Canada from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014. This section provides an interpretation of the statistical report.

During the fiscal year, NRC received forty-two (42) new access to information (ATI) requests. The breakdown of the source of requestors received during the fiscal period is as follows: eight (8) from the media, five (5) from business, eight (8) from academia and twenty-one (21) from the public.  Five (5) requests were outstanding from the previous fiscal year, for a total of forty-seven (47) requests to process in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

ATI Requests

Long description for ATI Requests follows
ATI Requests
Media 8
Business 5
Academia 8
Public 21

NRC completed forty-one (41) access to information requests during this reporting period.  Six requests (6) were carried over into the next fiscal year. The subject of the requests related to varied sectors across the organization. Many of the requests received concerned Human Resources, Grants and Contributions including the NRC-Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Contracting including call-ups and purchase orders, Program Research as well as Organizational and Financial Management.

Section 9 of the Act provides for the extension of the statutory time limits if consultations are necessary or if the request is for a large volume of records and processing the request within the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the organization. In addition, extensions are invoked when consultations are necessary to comply with the request or section 27(1) of the Act. NRC invoked an extension in the case of seventeen (17) requests. The extensions mainly involved records that contained confidential business information that required third party consultations.

In summary, out of forty-one (41) completed requests, twenty-eight (28) were completed in 30 days or less, four (4) were completed within 31 to 60 days, five (5) were completed between 61 and 120 days, two (2) were completed between 121 and 180 days, one (1) was completed between 181 and 365 days and one (1) request took more than 365 to complete. All levels of NRC worked diligently to ensure a high performance in meeting statutory deadlines.

NRC is asked by other government organizations for its views on disclosure of information that had originated within the National Research Council Canada. This reporting year, forty (40) consultation requests were received from other government departments. The ATIP office works closely with the offices of primary interest at NRC to respond effectively to these requests.

Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the Statistical Report are intended to identify the number of requests in cases where specific types of exemptions and exclusions were invoked.  NRC invoked exemptions and exclusions pursuant to sections 16(2)(c), 18(a)(b)(c)(d), 19(1), 20(1)(b)(c)(d), 21(1)(a)(b)(c)(d), 23 and 69(1)(a)(c)(e)(g) re (a) of the Act.

Section 16(2)(c) (Law enforcement and investigations) was invoked in two (2) cases. Section 18(a)(b)(c)(d) (Economic Interests of Canada) was invoked in eight (8) cases where the information would have prejudiced NRC’s competitive position. Section 19 (Personal Information) was invoked in fourteen (14) cases and was applied to the information that is considered personal and where individual consent was not obtained. Section 20 (Third Party Information) was invoked in nineteen (19) cases. The exemptions applied pursuant to Section 20 involve confidential business information belonging to a third party.  The third parties in question were consulted pursuant to section 27 of the Act and provided substantial rationales in support of the protection of their information. Section 21 (advice, etc.) was invoked in nineteen (19) cases. The information severed under this section is considered part of NRC’s business operations which include internal advice, recommendations and deliberations between Senior NRC Officials and positions of plans developed for the purpose of negotiations and as well as plans relating to management of personnel. The release of this information would have compromised the integrity of NRC’s decision-making process and the candidness of discussions. Section 23 (solicitor-client privilege) was invoked in three (3) cases. The release of this information would have revealed confidential information provided by NRC’s legal advisors. Section 69 (Cabinet confidences), which provides for exclusion of confidences of the Privy Council, was invoked in seven (7) cases.

The figures, as reflected in the chart on the next page, indicate the number of requests received and processed over the past three years. The figures do not reflect requests processed informally or other queries that have been received and processed in the ATIP office.

The trends indicate a decrease in the number of access to information requests received, but the complexity of the requests has increased. The number of pages that had to be reviewed by the ATIP Unit has dramatically increased. Due to the way the requests are written, the ATIP Unit is required to retrieve the records from more individual employees and operating units. In consequence, the analysts have to go through a large amount of paper, which is often duplicates and email chains. There were also more consultations with other departments and third parties.

Number of requests received and processed

Long description of number of requests received and processed follows
2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
received 67 66 42
completed 64 68 41
carried forward 4 5 6

As a result of web posting summaries of completed access to information requests, NRC received additional informal requests for previously released information. The ATIP Unit processed 14 informal requests (not subject to the Access to information Act) in this reporting period, compared to three (3) in 2012-2013, zero (0) for 2011-2012 and two (2) for 2010-2011.

Within the context of its overall roles and responsibilities, NRC’s ATIP office reviewed a total of seventy-six (76) parliamentary questions received for the period of 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

Informal Access to Information Requests

Long description for Informal Access to Information Requests follows
Informal Access to
Information Requests
2010-2011 2
2011-2012 0
2012-2013 3
2013-2014 14

The Access to Information and Privacy Office has a tracking system that keeps track of both the active and closed requests. This system is designed to follow the legislative deadlines. The ATIP Office also holds weekly meetings to discuss with the ATIP Coordinator about the active requests and the activities in which the ATIP Office is involved.

The annual statistical report for the fiscal year 2013-2014 is included at the end of this chapter, as Annex B Footnote 1.

V. Access to information-related training and education

The ATIP office is committed to providing ongoing development and training to NRC’s employees.

During the fiscal year, six training sessions were offered. The first one was offered on 29 April 2013 to 24 people about ATIP and business information. The second was offered on 14 May 2013 about ATIP processes and legislative requirements. The third session was offered on 18 July 2013 to 24 people about ATIP and business information management. The fourth training session was given on 13 March 2014 to 30 participants about the basics of the Acts and best practices. The fifth session of 24 March 2014 was given to 13 people about ATIP at NRC. Finally, the sixth training session was offered 27 March 2014 to a small group about ATIP at the NRC. All training sessions included information on personal information and the privacy legislation which has been accounted for in the Privacy Act annual report.

ATIP tools are available on NRC external and internal websites.

ATIP employees continually work to sensitize and guide employees, third parties and requesters regarding the requirements of the Access to Information Act by means of ongoing dialogue and bilateral discussions. During the reporting period, ATIP Coordinator and Officers responded to inquiries from colleagues, where advice and guidance were provided on various subjects pertaining to Access to Information legislation.

The ATIP Coordinator and Officers attend different training sessions offered by Treasury Board Secretariat.

VI. New procedures, guidelines and directives

NRC did not implement new and/or revised access to information policies, guidelines or procedures during the reporting period.

NRC is posting the summaries of completed Access to Information requests as well as its ATIP Annual Reports on its website in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s revised Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, which was issued in February 2012.

VII. Complaints, investigations and federal court cases

Three complaints were filed against NRC in 2013-2014.The reasons for the new complaints were concerning the application of subsections 19(1), 21(1) and 23 as a basis for refusing access to records, or portions thereof, requested under the Access to Information Act.

These three investigations are ongoing with the Office of the Information Commissioner.

There were no court cases in 2013-2014.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

The accompanying Statistical Tables do not always present data reflecting the total number of requests as they often focus on specific subsets such as cases that were delayed beyond the due dates or those that list only requests that involved the disclosure of all documents or a partial disclosure. Other differences from the totals for the year are due to cases when, for example, more than one extension was required.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Annex A: Delegation order

Access to Information and Privacy Acts Delegation Order

The President of the National Research Council of Canada, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the person occupying on an acting basis the position, to exercise the powers and functions of the President as the head of a government institution, under the section of the Acts set out in the schedule opposite each position. This Designation Order supersedes all previous designation orders.

Schedule

Position Access to Information Act and Regulations Privacy Act and Regulations
Secretary General Full authority Full authority
Director, Governance Full authority Full authority
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator Sections 7(a), 8(1), 9, 11(2) to (6), 12(2)(3), 26, 27(1) and (4), 28(1), (2) and (4), 29(1), 22, 37(4), 43(1), 44(2) Section 8(2)(j), 8(4), 8(5), 9(1), 9(4), 10, 14, 15, 17(2)(b), 18(2), 31, 35(1), 35(4), 36(3), 37(3), 51(2)(b)

Dated, at the City of Ottawa
this 18 day of Jan., 2012

John R. McDougall, ing.,
President of the National Research Council of Canada

Annex B: Statistical report

Name of institution: National Research Council Canada

Reporting period: 01/04/2013 to 31/03/2014

PART 1 - Requests under the Privacy Act

1.1 Number of Requests

Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 42
Outstanding from previous reporting period 5
Total 47
Closed during reporting period 41
Carried over to next reporting period 6

1.2 Sources of Request

Source Number of Requests
Media 8
Academia 8
Business (Private Sector) 5
Organization 0
Public 21
Total 42

PART 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

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
All disclosed 9 9 1 0 0 0 0 19
Disclosed in part 0 6 3 4 2 1 1 17
All exempted 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
No records exist 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Treated informally 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 13 15 4 5 2 1 1 41

2.2 Exemptions

Section Number of requests
13(1)(a) 0
13(1)(b) 0
13(1)(c) 0
13(1)(d) 0
13(1)(e) 0
14(a) 0
14(b) 0
15(1) - I.A.Table note 1 0
15(1) - Def.Table note 2 0
15(1) - S.A.Table note 3 0
16(1)(a)(i) 0
16(1)(a)(ii) 0
16(1)(a)(iii) 0
16(1)(b) 0
16(1)(c) 0
16(1)(d) 0
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 2
16(3)) 0
16.1(1)(a) 0
16.1(1)(b) 0
16.1(1)(c) 0
16.1(1)(d) 0
16.2(1) 0
16.3 0
16.4(1)(a) 0
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 0
17 0
18(a) 2
18(b) 3
18(c) 1
18(d) 2
18.1(1)(a) 0
18.1(1)(b) 0
18.1(1)(c) 0
18.1(1)(d) 0
19(1) 14
20(1)(a) 0
20(1)(b) 8
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(d)
20(1)(d) 6
20.1 5
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 6
21(1)(b) 5
21(1)(d) 6
21(1)(d) 2
22 0
22.1(1) 0
23 3
24(1) 0
26 0

Table notes

Table note 1

I.A.: International Affairs.

Return to table note 1 referrer

Table note 2

Def.: Defence of Canada

Return to table note 2 referrer

Table note 3

S.A.: Subversive Activities

Return to table note 3 referrer

2.3 Exclusions

Section Number of requests
68(a) 0
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68(a) 0
68(b) 0
69(1)(a) 2
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 1
69(1)(d) 0
69(1)(e) 2
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re (a) 2
69(1)(g) re (b) 0
69(1)(g) re (c) 0
69(1)(g) re (d) 0
69(1)(g) re (e) 0
69(1)(g) re (f) 0
69.1(1) 0
69.1(1) 0

2.4 Format of information released

Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 19 0 0
Disclose in part 16 1 0
Total 35 1 0

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requests Number of
pages processed
Number of
pages disclosed
Number of
requests
All disclosed 508 498 19
Disclosed in part 4999 3305 47
All exempted 198 0 1
All excluded 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 3
2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less than 100 pages processed 101‑500
pages processed
501‑1000
pages processed
1001‑5000
pages processed
More than 5000
pages processed
Number of Requests Pages disclosed Number of Requests Pages disclosed Number of Requests Pages disclosed Number of Requests Pages disclosed Number of Requests Pages disclosed
All disclosed 18 201 1 297 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 8 360 8 2137 1 808 0 0 0 0
All exempted 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Abandoned 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 30 561 9 2434 1 808 0 0 0 0
2.5.3 Other complexitites
Disposition Consultation
required
Assessment of
fees
Legal advice
sought
Other Total
All disclosed 0 1 1 0 2
Disclosed in part 2 8 9 0 19
All exempted 0 1 1 0 2
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Abandoned 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 10 11 0 23

2.6 Deemed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past
the statutory deadline
Principal Reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
7 0 7 0 0
2.6.2 Number of days past 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 10 0 10
16 to 30 days 15 0 15
31 to 60 days 0 4 4
61 to 120 days 0 5 5
121 to 180 days 0 2 2
181 to 365 days 0 1 1
More than 365 days 0 1 1
Total 25 13 38

2.7 Requests for translation

Translation Requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

PART 3 - Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

Disposition of requests where an extension was taken 9(1)(a)
Interference with operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c) 9(1)(c)
Third party notice
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 0 1 1 0
Disclosed in part 1 1 4 8
All exempted 0 0 1 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Total 1 2 6 8

3.2 Length of extensions

Length of extensions 9(1)(a)
Interference with operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c) 9(1)(c)
Third party notice
Section 69 Other
30 days or less 1 0 2 3
31 to 60 days 0 0 2 4
61 to 120 days 0 1 2 1
121 to 180 days 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0 0
365 days or more 0 0 0 0
Total 1 1 6 8

PART 4 - Fees

Fee Type Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of requests Amount
Application 41 $205 0 $0
Search 0 $0 0 $0
Production 0 $0 0 $0
Programming 0 $0 0 $0
Preparation 0 $0 0 $0
Alternative format 0 $0 0 $0
Reproduction 0 $0 0 $0
Total 41 $205 0 $0

PART 5 - Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

Consulations Other government institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 40 611 2 194
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 0 0 0 0
Total 40 611 2 194
Closed during the reporting period 40 566 2 194
Pending at the end of the reporting period 2 45 0 0

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

Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation 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
Disclose entirely 23 3 0 0 0 0 0 26
Disclose in part 8 1 0 0 0 0 0 9
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 33 5 0 0 0 0 0 38

5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations requests

Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation 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
Disclose entirely 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 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 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

PART 6 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

Number of days Number of responses received Number of responses received past deadline
1 to 15 0 0
16 to 30 2 1
31 to 60 0 1
61 to 120 2 0
121 to 180 0 0
181 to 365 0 0
More than 365 0 0
Total 4 2

PART 7 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act

Expenditures Amount
Salaries $90,895
Overtime $0
Goods and Services $7,520
Professional services contracts $0
Other $7,520
Total $98,415

Human Resources

Resources Dedicated full-time
ATI activities
Dedicated part-time to
ATI activities
Total
Full-time employees 1.00 0.65 1.65
Part-time and casual employees 0.00 0.00 0.00
Regional staff 0.00 0.00 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00 0.00 0.00
Students 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 1.00 0.65 1.65
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