Sunday, March 01, 2009

2007-2008 Report Cards Criticize Federal Government on Access to Information

Last week, the federal Information Commissioner Robert Marleau issued his 2007-2008 "report cards" that evaluate the performance of federal institutions in responding to information requests under the federal Access to Information Act.

Mr. Marleau reported that six out of the 10 institutions surveyed last year underperformed. They were the RCMP, Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Public Works, Canada Border Services Agency and Health Canada:
"The most significant finding is that the 30-day timeline intended by Parliament is becoming the exception instead of the norm. The institutions reviewed this year process, on average, less than half of their requests in 30 days ..."

"But there is a disturbing trend toward greater use of time extensions and for longer periods of time. And this trend is not justified by the proportional increase in the number of information requests."


These systemic issues [that affect access requests] include: widespread deficiencies in information management; the negative impact of the consultation process; chronic gaps in HR capacity and training; and lack of effective executive leadership when it comes to access to information."

"For years now and from different quarters, concerns have been raised about the deteriorating state of information management within government. The poor performance shown by institutions is symptomatic of what has become a major information management crisis. A crisis that is only exacerbated with the pace of technological developments."

"Access to information has become hostage to this crisis and is about to become its victim." [from the press release]
Despite the overall pattern of criticisms, the Commissioner did praise 2 of the reviewed departments and agencies for outstanding performance: Justice Canada and Library and Archives Canada.

Justice Canada's evaluation is noteworthy because it had received a failing grade in each of the previous three years.

More background:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:15 pm


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