Annual Report to Parliament 2011-2012
Access to Information Act
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
To better understand the context within which the ATIA is administered, this section provides background information about the Department.
The Department of Justice has a dual mandate. This mandate stems from the dual role of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney General of Canada.
In support of the Minister of Justice, the Department is responsible for providing policy and program advice as well as direction through the development of the legal content of bills, regulations and guidelines. In support of the Attorney General, the Department is responsible for litigating civil cases by or on behalf of the Federal Crown and for providing legal advice to federal law enforcement agencies and other government departments.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
The ATIP Coordinator is accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures in order to enable efficient processing of requests under the ATIA. The Coordinator is also responsible for related policies, systems and procedures stemming from the ATIA.
The activities of the ATIP Office include:
- processing requests under the ATIA;
- acting as spokesperson for the Department in dealings with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information Commissioner and other government departments and agencies regarding the application of the ATIA;
- responding to consultation requests submitted by other federal institutions on Department of Justice documents located in their files and on records that may be subject to solicitor-client privilege;
- coordinating, reviewing and approving new entries and modifications to Info Source, an annual Government of Canada publication about its organization and information holdings;
- preparing the Annual Report to Parliament and other statutory reports, as well as other materials that may be required by central agencies;
- developing policies, procedures and guidelines for the orderly implementation of the ATIA by the Department;
- promoting awareness of the ATIA to ensure departmental respect of the obligations imposed on the Government; and
- monitoring departmental compliance with the ATIA, its regulations, and relevant procedures and policies.
ORGANIZATION FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
The ATIP Coordinator has full authority delegated by the Minister for the administration of the Act, and is also referred to as Director.
Within the ATIP Office, in proportion with the administration of the ATIA, twenty-four (24) employees were dedicated on a full-time basis to the administration of the ATIA and related functions.
Officials of the Department were directly involved in the application of the ATIA by making recommendations concerning the disclosure of records and by ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Act.
The stages for processing requests are set out in the chart found below.
The Reading Rooms at Headquarters and those located in the Regional Offices across Canada make available to the public the most recent published version of Info Source, as well as departmental publications and manuals. Many of these publications can be found on the Department of Justice and the Treasury Board Secretariat's websites.
Salary and Administrative Expenditures
A total of twenty-four (24) person-years were utilized in the administration of the ATIA. The salary expenditures amounted to $1,671,756.00.
The administrative expenditures amounted to $143,385.00.
The statistical report outlining administrative and salary expenditures is included here.
The Department of Justice continues to strive to provide leadership and improve its performance in order to maintain the highest standards of service. For the fiscal year 2011-2012, the ATIP Office has:
- posted the 2010-2011 Annual Reports to Parliament as well as the summaries of completed requests to the Department's Internet website in order to improve communications with the requesters and increase transparency, in accordance with the ten (10) principles of practice outlined on its Internet website as well as with TBS directives and policies;
- revised its organizational structure by creating a Policy Centre and an Intake Unit in order to improve its performance and maintain a high standard of service;
- drafted an Administrative Procedures Manual for its employees outlining procedures to be followed in the case management system when processing an ATIA request in order to ensure consistency within the Office;
- continued to update its internal procedures in order to process ATIA requests more efficiently as well as to formalize best practices and ensure consistency within the Office;
- revised its services standards set out in Memoranda of Understanding with several client institutions and has continued to abide by them;
- continued to share its best practices with other government institutions; and
- continued to reduce paper consumption by printing double-sided as well as providing release packages electronically to requesters when appropriate.
Education and Training
ATIP officers regularly provide advice and informal training on the application of ATIP legislation to Departmental employees who must review relevant records requested under the ATIA.
Formal awareness information sessions are also provided to program areas within the Department. Particular emphasis is given to those aspects of the Act that are directly related to the employees' areas of responsibility. This year, these sessions were provided to the following groups, for a total of two hundred and nineteen (219) employees:
- Aboriginal Affairs Portfolio (17 employees)
- Admin Continuous Learning (39 employees)
- Assistant Deputy Minister's Office, Management Sector (5 employees)
- British Columbia Regional Office (23 employees)
- Contracting and Materiel Management (24 employees)
- Human Resources, Operations (34 employees)
- Legislative Services (23 employees)
- Office of Integrity and Conflict Management in the Workplace (4 employees)
- Policy Sector (18 employees)
- Regional Security Officers (9 employees)
In addition, formal training was also offered through the Department of Justice's Learning Program, for an additional seventy-four (74) employees:
- The Fundamentals of ATIP (50 employees)
- What Justice Employees Need to Know About the Law (ATIP component) (24 employees)
ATIP training is also part of the recommended courses under the values and ethic component of the Department's Roadmap for new managers. An e-orientation deck is also posted on the Department's Intranet site for employees to consult.
Moreover, ATIP employees regularly participate in collective awareness sessions with the ATIP Counsel to review recent jurisprudence and case law related to ATIA. The ATIP Counsel participates in monthly ATIP Practice Group meetings during which information is exchanged and viable solutions are proposed. The Practice Group is open to all departmental counsel, including those from Legal Services Units, and its mandate is to discuss questions such as the right of access to information or privacy issues.
In addition to mentorship and partnership relationships, workshops and presentations are also regularly provided within the ATIP Office on various topics concerning the application of the Act and related policy and procedures. This allows ATIP employees to benefit from each other's respective levels of experience and knowledge.
Finally, ATIP employees participate in training sessions, conferences and seminars organized by the Treasury Board Secretariat or by the Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA) on matters relating to both access and privacy. These exchanges update employees in the development of ATIP and upcoming trends in this area.
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