Annual Report to Parliament 2016-2017 - Access to Information Act

NRC Annual Report to Parliament 2016‑2017 – Access to Information Act (PDF, 1.29 MB)

I. Introduction

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is pleased to present to Parliament its annual report on the administration of the Access to Information Act for fiscal year April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. Section 72 of the Act requires that the head of every federal government institution submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act during the fiscal year

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.

This thirty-third Annual Report on the administration of the Access to Information Act at the NRC provides an overview of the activities of the Council in implementing the Act.

Mandate of the National Research Council of Canada

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) supports industrial innovation, the advancement of knowledge, technology development and public policy mandates. The NRC plays a unique role in Canada, undertaking large-scale mission-oriented research and development programs. With a presence in every province, NRC combines its strong national foundation with international linkages to help Canada grow in productivity and remain globally competitive. NRC works in collaboration with industry, governments and academia to maximize Canada’s overall R&D investment.

II. Organizational structure and delegation of authority

From April 1, 2016 to August 9, 2016, the NRC President delegated full authority for the application and administration of the Access to Information Act to the Director General, Knowledge Management and to the Director, Information Management Services Directorate. Partial authority was delegated to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator.

The delegation of authority changed as of August 10, 2016. The President delegated full authority for the application and administration of the Access to Information Act to the Vice-President, Business and Professional Services, to the Chief Information Officer & Director General of Knowledge, Information and Technology Services, and to the Director, Information and Data Management Services Directorate. The ATIP Coordinator’s authority remained the same.

A copy of the current signed Delegation Order can be found at Annex A.

During the period covered by this report, the NRC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office was part of the Information and Data Management Services Directorate (previously Information Management Services Directorate), within the Knowledge, Information and Technology Services Branch (previously Knowledge Management Branch).

During most of 2016-2017, the NRC ATIP office was comprised of one full-time Coordinator and one full-time ATIP officer. A second full-time ATIP officer was hired in March 2017.

The NRC ATIP office works closely with the NRC information management team, the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program ATIP liaison officer, executive advisors, NRC Communications Branch and senior management across the organization.

Procedures are in place to process all formal access to information requests in accordance with the Access to Information Act.

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 ATIP electronic case management system;
  • Processes consultations received from other institutions;
  • Provides professional advice and guidance to senior management and all departmental staff on the Act;
  • Prepares the annual report to Parliament and the annual statistical report;
  • Maintains NRC's Info Source chapter;
  • Reviews departmental documents (such as audit and evaluation reports prior to their proactive disclosure on the organization's website), Parliamentary Questions and Harassment Reports for access-related considerations;
  • Develops internal procedures;
  • Participates in forums for the ATIP community, such as the Treasury Board Secretariat ATIP Community meetings and working groups.

Section 71 of the Access to Information Act, requires government institutions to provide facilities where members of the public may obtain and read information on the institution including the inspection of manuals used by employees to administer or carry out programs or activities that affect the public. At NRC, this takes place in Building M-55 of the NRC Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa, Ontario. Other arrangements can be offered if requested.

III. 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 April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. This section provides an interpretation of the statistical report.

During the fiscal year, NRC received forty-five (45) new access to information (ATI) requests. Four (4) requests were outstanding from the previous fiscal year, for a total of forty-nine (49) requests to be processed in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. NRC completed forty-one (41) access to information requests during this reporting period. Eight (8) requests that were either not completed or had been received at the end of the fiscal year were carried over to the next reporting period.

The figures, as reflected in the chart below, indicate the number of requests received and processed over the past three years. The figures do not reflect requests processed informally or other types of queries (requests transferred from the NRC call centre, from other branches, from the Industrial Research Assistance Program, etc.) that were addressed by the ATIP office.

Volume of access to information requests

Volume of access to information requests. Long description follows.
Long description for volume of access to information requests
Volume of access to information requests
Received Completed Carried forward
2014‑2015 36 41 1
2015‑2016 23 20 4
2016‑2017 45 41 8

Chart 1 indicates an increase in the total number of access to information requests received over a three year period. In addition to volume, the complexity of requests has also increased, primarily due to:

  • An increase in the average volume of pages requiring review;
  • The broader scope of numerous requests, requiring the ATIP office to retrieve records from multiple individuals and organizational groups.

The ATIP office and the information management team are coordinating efforts to provide training and guidance to employees on the effective management of information (drafts, emails, duplicates, etc.), to address challenges with volume.

The breakdown of the source of requestors is as follows: ten (10) from the media, two (2) from academia, sixteen (16) from business, one (1) from organizations, fourteen (14) from the public and two (2) declined to identify.

Access to information requests received by source

Access to information requests received by source. Long description follows.
Long description for access to information requests received by source
Access to information requests received by source
Access to information requests received by source
Media 10
Academia 2
Business 16
Organization 1
Public 14
Decline to identify 2

As a result of web posting summaries of completed access to information requests, NRC received additional informal requests for previously released information. The ATIP office processed twenty-four (24) informal requests (not subject to the Access to Information Act) in this reporting period, compared to fifteen (15) in 2015-2016, eighteen (18) in 2014-2015 and fourteen (14) in 2013-2014.

Volume of informal access to information requests

Volume of informal access to information requests. Long description follows.
Long description for volume of informal access to information requests
Volume of informal access to information requests
Informal access to information requests
2013‑2014 14
2014‑2015 18
2015‑2016 15
2016‑2017 24

In terms of topics, the subject matter of the forty-five new requests received during the fiscal year related to various activities across the organization as follows:

  • Grants and contributions including the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) - 7
  • Contracting including call-ups and purchase orders - 8
  • Program research - 17
  • Other (including management correspondence and other specific requests) - 13

With regard to timelines and extensions, out of forty-one (41) completed requests, twenty-six (26) were completed in 30 days or less, seven (7) were completed within 31 to 60 days, seven (7) were completed between 61 and 120 days and one (1) was completed between 121 and 180 days. All levels of NRC worked diligently to ensure that statutory deadlines were met to the greatest extent possible.

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 default 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 eight (8) requests. The extensions involved records that contained confidential business information that required OGD and third party consultations, and cases when meeting the original time limit of thirty days would have unreasonably interfered with the operations of the organization.

Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of the Statistical Report focus on the application of exemptions and exclusions from disclosure. NRC invoked exemptions and exclusions pursuant to sections 16(2)(c), 18(a)(b), 19(1), 20(1)(b)(c)(d), 21(1)(a)(b)(d) and 68(a) of the Act, as follows:

  • Section 16 (Law enforcement and investigations) was invoked once;
  • Section 18 (Economic interests of Canada) was invoked four (4) times;
  • Section 19 (Personal information) was invoked fourteen (14) times;
  • Section 20 (Third party information) was invoked seventeen (17) times;
  • Section 21 (Advice, etc.) was invoked six (6) times;
  • Section 68 (material available for purchase by the public) was invoked once.

As a government agency, NRC is asked by other federal departments and agencies, as well as other organizations (such as universities and provincial governments) for its input on disclosure of information originating within the National Research Council. During this reporting year, sixty-one (61) consultation requests were received from other federal departments and agencies and two (2) consultation requests were received from other organizations. This compares with sixty-three (63) from other federal departments and agencies and zero (0) from other organizations in 2015-2016, and fifty-four (54) from other federal departments and agencies and two (2) from other organizations in 2014-2015. The numbers indicate a steady volume of consultation requests received, resulting from an increased workload in ATIP offices of other government departments, as well as NRC’s continued involvement in horizontal/inter-departmental files.

Consultation requests received by source

Consultation requests received by source. Long description follows.
Long description for consultation requests received by source
Consultation requests received by source
Consultations from OGD Consultations from organizations
2016‑2017 61 2
2015‑2016 63 0
2014‑2015 54 2

The ATIP office works closely with the offices of primary interest at NRC to respond effectively to these requests.

Within the context of its overall roles and responsibilities, NRC’s ATIP office reviewed a total of one hundred forty-eight (148) parliamentary questions received for the period of 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017, compared to one hundred (100) in 2015-2016 and one hundred and sixty-one (161) in 2014-2015.

Parliamentary questions

Parliamentary Questions. Long description follows.
Long description for parliamentary questions
Parliamentary questions
Parliamentary questions
2014‑2015 161
2015‑2016 100
2016‑2017 148

The annual statistical report for the fiscal year 2016-2017 is included at the end of this chapter, as Annex B.

IV. Access to information-related training and education

To increase the knowledge and understanding of the Access to Information Act across NRC, training and awareness sessions are delivered on an ongoing basis to NRC employees. These sessions provided basic information on the purposes and provisions of the Act, roles and responsibilities, and general best practices for information management. All training sessions include information on the identification and management of personal information and the Privacy Act. During the reporting period, the ATIP office delivered a total of six (6) training sessions to 129 employees in the National Capital Region and in regional offices.

ATIP tools and guidance are updated on a regular basis and are made available on NRC external and internal websites.

The ATIP team continually works to sensitize and guide employees, third parties and requesters regarding the requirements of the Access to Information Act, through ongoing dialogue and bilateral discussions. During the reporting period, the ATIP Coordinator and officers responded to numerous inquiries from colleagues (Industrial Research Assistance Program, management, etc.), providing advice and guidance on various access-related subjects.

The ATIP office promoted Right to Know Day (September 28th) and Data Privacy Day (January 28) within NRC, through postings on the NRC internal website.

Throughout the fiscal year, the ATIP Coordinator and the officers attended ATIP community meetings and various training sessions offered by Treasury Board Secretariat.

V. 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.

VI. Complaints, investigations and federal court cases

One complaint was filed against NRC in 2016-2017. The reason for the complaint related to the application of a time limit extension pursuant to section 9 of the Act, which the requester considered to be unreasonable.

One (1) outstanding complaint from fiscal year 2011-2012 is now closed. The complaint was discontinued.

There were no court cases in 2016-2017.

VII. Monitoring of access to information requests

In keeping with TBS policies and directives, the ATIP office has established internal ATIP procedures and business practices to ensure the efficient and timely processing of access requests, while making every effort to assist applicants in the most expeditious manner without regard to their identity.

The ATIP 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 holds weekly meetings to discuss request-related activities, determine timelines and ensure that team members are informed of the status of files. Weekly meetings also take place with the Director, Information and Data Management Services Directorate.

A report of active ATIP files (while maintaining the privacy of the requestors’ identity) is shared with the NRC senior management team on a weekly basis and a more detailed report is provided to delegated authorities.

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
Vice-President, Business and Professional Services Full authority Full authority
Chief Information Officer   Director General, Knowledge and Information Technology Services Full authority Full authority
Director, Information Management Services Directorate 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), 29(1), 33, 37(4), 43(1), 44(2) Sections 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
10 August 2016

Maria Aubrey
Acting President of the National Research Council of Canada

Annex B: Statistical report on the Access to Information Act

Name of institution: National Research Council Canada

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2017-03-31

Part 1 – Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requests
Number
of requests
Received during reporting period 45
Outstanding from previous reporting period 4
Total 49
Closed during reporting period 41
Carried over to next reporting period 8
1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number
of requests
Media 10
Acamedia 2
Business (private sector) 16
Organization 1
Public 14
Decline to identify 2
Total 45
1.3 Informal requests
Completion Time
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
24 1 1 1 0 0 0 27

Note: All requests previously recorded as “treated informally” will now be accounted for in this section only.

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 5 4 5 0 0 0 0 14
Disclosed in part 2 6 0 6 1 0 0 15
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
No records exist 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Request transfered 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 1 4 2 1 0 0 0 8
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 11 15 7 7 1 0 0 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 0
14(a) 0
14(b) 0
15(1) 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) 0
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 1
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) 3
18(b) 1
18(c) 0
18(d) 0
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) 9
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(c) 7
20(1)(d) 1
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 3
21(1)(b) 1
21(1)(c) 1
21(1)(d) 1
22 0
22.1(1) 0
23 0
24(1) 0
26 0

Table 2.2 notes

Table notes 1

I.A.: International Affairs

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Table notes 2

Def.: Defence of Canada

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Table notes 3

S.A.: Subversive Activities

Return to footnote 3 referrer

2.3 Exclusions
Section Number
of requests
68(a) 1
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 0
68.2(b) 0
69(1) 0
69(1)(a) 0
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 0
69(1)(d) 0
69(1)(e) 0
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re(a) 0
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
2.4 Format of information released
Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 8 6 0
Disclosed in part 10 5 0
Total 18 11 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 469 469 14
Disclosed in part 1703 1644 15
All exempted 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 1
Request abandoned 0 0 8
Neither confirmed or denied 0 0 0
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 12 257 2 212 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 9 323 5 810 1 511 0 0 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed or denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 30 580 7 1022 1 511 0 0 0 0
2.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation
Required
Assessment
of Fees
Legal advice
Sought
Other Total
All disclosed 1 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 6 0 0 0 6
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 3 0 0 0 3
Neither confirmed or denied 0 0 0 0 0
Total 10 0 0 0 10

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
6 0 1 3 2
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 4 1 5
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 1 0 1
61 to 120 days 0 0 0
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0
More than 365 days 0 0 0
Total 5 1 6
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(a)(i)
interference with
operations
9(1)(b) Consultation 9(1)(c)
third-party
notice
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 0 0 1 5
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 2 0 2 2
Total 2 0 3 8
3.2 Length of extensions
Length of Extensions 9(1)(a)
interference with
operations
9(1)(b)
consultation
9(1)(c)
third-party
notice
Section 69 Other
30 days or less 1 0 0 1
31 to 60 days 0 0 1 2
61 to 120 days 1 0 2 5
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 2 0 3 8

Part 4 – Fees

Fees
Fee yype Fee collected Fee waived or
refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of requests Amount
Application 35 $175 6 $30
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 35 $175 6 $30

Part 5 – Consultations teceived grom other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada Institutions and organizations
Consultations Other Governement of
Canada institutions
Number of pages review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 61 2025 2 112
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 3 354 0 0
Total 64 2379 2 112
Closed during the reporting period 64 2379 2 112
Pending at the end of the reporting period 0 0 0 0
5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada 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 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Disclose in part 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
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
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
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 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Disclose in part 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
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

6.1 Requests with legal services
Number of days Fewer 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
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of days Fewer 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
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Part 7 – Complaints and investigations

Complaints and investigations
Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
1 0 0 1

Part 8 – Court action

Court action
Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 0 0

Part 9 – Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $139,120
Overtime $0
Good and services
  • Professional services contracts ($75,814)
  • Others ($14,604)
$90,418
Total $229,538
9.2 Human resources
Resources Person years dedicated
to access to information activities
Full-time employees 1.45
Part-time and casual employees 0.00
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 1.45
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