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Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Foreign Affairs)

Annual Reports on the Administration of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act

2004-2005

Copies of this document may be obtained from:

Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division
International Trade Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

This publication can be made available on computer diskette, compact disk or in large print, upon request.

Enquiries about this document may be directed to:

Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division
International Trade Canada
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Tel: (613) 992-1425
FAX: (613) 995-0116

**For the purpose of this report, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Foreign Affairs) will be referred to as Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC).

PART I – INTRODUCTION

THE ROLE AND MANDATE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CANADA

Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC) has the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of Canada’s interests abroad and the conduct of Canada’s relations with other countries. It promotes peace, prosperity and Canadian values around the world. The mandate of the department is as follows:

  • conducting all diplomatic and consular relations on behalf of Canada;
  • conducting all official communication between the Government of Canada and the government of any other country and between the Government of Canada and any international organization;
  • conducting and managing international negotiations as they relate to Canada;
  • coordinating the direction given by the Government of Canada to the heads of

Canada's diplomatic and consular missions and to manage these missions;

  • administering the foreign service of Canada; and
  • fostering the development of international law and its application in Canada's external relations.

It also offers travel assistance and passport services to Canadians, at home and abroad.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is supported by the Minister of International Cooperation (Canadian International Development Agency), the Minister responsible for La Francophonie and by a Parliamentary Secretary and another Parliamentary Secretary with special emphasis on Canada-U.S. relations.

Moreover, the responsibilities of the Minister extends beyond the Department. The Minister of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for external organizations namely, the International Development Research Centre, the International Joint Commission and Rights & Democracy (the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development).

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE DEPARTMENT

A significant change in government machinery was made in December 2003, separating the former Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) into two organizations: Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC) and International Trade Canada (ITCan).

This report covers the fiscal year 2004-2005 for Foreign Affairs Canada. This report does not include information about International Trade Canada, which has issued its own annual report to Parliament.

FAC consists of a headquarter administration and represents Canada around the world through a network of embassies, trade and diplomatic offices in over 180 countries, by participating in multilateral institutions and international treaties and arrangements. It works to promote prosperity, ensure Canadians' security within a global framework and promote Canadian values and culture on the international stage.

The Passport Office is a special operating agency within the department, reporting to the Deputy Minister.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACCESS AND PRIVACY FUNCTION

The Director of the Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division (the ATIP Office of the Department) has been delegated full authority to exercise the powers of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

The ATIP Director reports to the Director General of the Executive Services Bureau who, along with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, are also designated with full powers. All Heads of Mission are designated to act under Section 8(2)(m) of the Privacy Act.

As an interim measure during this transitional period, the ATIP Office will continue to process ATIP requests for both FAC and ITCan until such time as ITCan can fully accommodate and integrate this function within its operations.

During 2004-2005, the ATIP Office continued to provide training sessions for employees. These sessions provided 150 employees with an overview of the Acts and a better understanding of their obligations and the process within FAC and ITCan. Customized sessions were also provided to divisional teams upon request.

PART II - ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

OVERVIEW

This report describes the administration of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act in Foreign Affairs Canada from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005.

DFAIT’s performance (FAC and ITCan combined) under the Access to Information Act continues to be scrutinized by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) and has been since 1998. The overall departmental performance has been of sub-standard compliance over this period. Although over the years, steps were taken to strengthen departmental capacity and compliance with these statutes, these have not proven to achieve improved consistent results.

OIC Report Card Results for DFAIT

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

F

F

F

D

B

D

F

 

In 2004-2005, the department undertook to conduct a independent review of the Access and the Privacy functions to address the persistent delays and to develop permanent solutions. It committed to developing a departmental action plan to address the systemic issues and to improve the department's performance of these functions.

The results of this review and the action plan will be reported in the 2005-2006 Annual Report.

WORKLOAD

In 2004-2005, there were 349 Access to Information Act requests submitted to the Department. For a graphical account of the volume of requests received each year by the Department since 1999, refer to Chart # 1 which follows:

Chart # 1: Access to Information Act Requests Received by FAC

1998 - 1999

1999 -2000

2000 - 2001

2001 – 2002

2002 – 2003

2003 – 2004

2004 – 2005

386

437

496

259

490

439

561

DFAIT

FAC

 

The Department is also responsible for processing numerous consultation requests from other departments and other governments. For a graphical account of the volume of consultation requests received by the Department, refer to Chart # 2 which follows:

Chart # 2: Access to Information Act Consultations Received by FAC

1998 - 1999

1999 -2000

2000 - 2001

2001 – 2002

2002 – 2003

2003 – 2004

2004 – 2005

263

332

421

526

540

562

468

DFAIT

FAC

STATISTICS
As indicated above, the Department received 349 new access requests in 2004-2005. When added to the 128 requests being carried forward from the previous fiscal year, this means that FAC was responsible for the processing of 477 requests during 2004-2005.

The Department was able to complete the processing of 332 requests, leaving 145 requests to be carried over to next fiscal year.

Of the 349 requests received in 2004-2005, the most frequent type of requester was from the public (175) followed by the media (102), various types of organizations (40), business (26) and academia (6).

Of the 332 requests that were completed, full disclosure was provided for 57 requests, partial disclosure was provided for 118 requests, and all records were denied for 10 requests. Besides this, 11 requests were transferred to another department, the department was unable to process 58 requests, 66 requests abandoned by the applicants and 12 requests were treated informally.

The three main reasons where access to information was denied related to either the operations of government (Section 21), personal information (Section 19) or international affairs (Section 15).

Of the 332 requests completed in 2004-2005, 123 requests were completed in 30 days or less, 36 requests were completed in between 31 and 60 days, 64 requests were completed in between 61 and 120 day, and 109 requests took more than 120 days to complete. The Department found it necessary to extend the time frame on 178 occasions to conduct large searches, to conduct external consultations and/or to complete third party notifications.

OTHER REQUESTS AND INFORMAL DISCLOSURES
Screening Program

The ATIP Office is responsible for screening Departmental records prior to transfer to the National Archives. This obligatory program allows the department to release records each year that facilitate research access to greater volumes of information concerning Canada’s conduct of international relations. In 2004-2005, the ATIP Office screened some 219,663 pages of historical departmental records prior to their transfer to the National Archives.

Historical Section - Informal Access Program

This program provides an avenue for academics and serious researchers who seek access to records held by the Department in order to carry out their work. With the assistance of departmental divisions, access to records held by the Department is expedited outside the formal framework of the Access to Information Act while ensuring that sensitive information remains protected. A total of 12 requests were processed which involved over 4,300 pages of information.

Internal Requests for Advice

The ATIP Office also acted as a resource for FAC officials and offered advice and guidance on the provisions of the legislation. The ATIP Office was consulted on 123 departmental issues relating to a range of matters from surveys, questionnaires, memorandum of understanding, information sharing arrangements, data bases, contracts, privacy and human resources issues.

RESOURCES

Department spending directly attributable to the administration of the Access to Information Act totalled $703,120, of which $472,600 was for salaries and $230,520 was for related administrative costs. Person year utilization totalled 8.84.

PART III - PRIVACY ACT

WORKLOAD

In 2004-2005, there were 196 Privacy Act requests submitted to the Department, an increase of 32% over the previous reporting period . For a graphical account of the volume of requests received each year by the Department since 1999, refer to Chart # 3 which follows:

Chart # 3: Privacy Act Requests Received by FAC

1998 - 1999

1999 -2000

2000 - 2001

2001 – 2002

2002 – 2003

2003 – 2004

2004 – 2005

61

76

118

109

120

148

196

DFAIT

FAC

STATISTICS

As indicated above, the Department received 196 new Privacy requests in 2004-2005. When added to the 21 requests being carried forward from the previous fiscal year, this means that FAC was responsible for the processing of 217 requests during 2004-2005.

The Department completed the processing of 162 requests during this reporting period, leaving 55 requests to be carried over to 2005-2006.

Of the 162 requests that were completed, full disclosure was provided for 54 requests, partial disclosure was provided for 53 requests, and all records were denied for 2 requests. Besides this, the department was unable to process 27 requests for various reasons, 25 requests were abandoned by applicants and one request was transferred to another institution.

The three main reasons where access to information was denied related to either information about another individual (Section 26), law enforcement and investigation (Section 22) and international relations and defence (Section 21).

Of the 162 requests completed in 2004-2005, 92 requests were completed in 30 days or less, 36 requests were completed in between 31 and 60 days, 18 requests were completed in between 61 and 120 day, and 15 requests took more than 120 days to complete. Time extensions were invoked for 51 requests - 44 due to interference with operations and 7 for external consultations. All these extensions were for 30 or less.

DISCLOSURES UNDER S. 8(2) OF THE PRIVACY ACT

The ATIP Office processed 386 requests for disclosure of personal information under Section 8(2) of the Privacy Act. This is a significant increase (57%) over the last fiscal year.

PRIVACY IMPACT ASSESSMENTS

Under the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) Policy, which came into effect on May 2, 2002, Treasury Board Secretariat is to monitor compliance with the PIA Policy through a variety of means. Given the foregoing Policy requirements, institutions are asked to report the following information for the 2004-2005 time period.

FAC report for the 2004-2005 time period:

  • number of PIAs initiated 7
  • number of Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessments (PPIA) initiated 3
  • number of PPIAs/PIAs forwarded to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) none
  • the number of PIA summaries posted on institutional web sites none

The ATIP Office has been participating in the development of the following assessments: Youth Exchange Program, Passport Renewal (Slipstream) Project, Performance Management On-Line, Youth Professional Program, Electronic Inter-jurisdictional Set-off Program, Self-Assessment Tool for Employees, Mission Passport Print Solution, Outreach Database, Ministerial Publications Application and Alumni Database.

RESOURCES

Department spending directly attributable to the administration of the Privacy Act totalled $206,800 of which $139,000 was for salaries and $67,800 was for related administrative costs. Person year utilization totalled 2.6.

PART IV – ANNEXES

Annex A - Statistical Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act

Annex B - Statistical Report on the Administration of the Privacy Act

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Date Modified:
2009-06-26