National Defence takes its responsibility under the Access to Information Act extremely seriously and is committed to openness and transparency.
The Department diligently responds to thousands of requests from Canadians each year.
The Access to Information team is currently addressing the backlog of requests.
In order to do so, we have established a dedicated team so we can process responses more quickly.
We are also exploring technological solutions which could help streamline our processes even further.
We are working toimplement the Information Commissioner's recommendations toimprove National Defence's processesthrough training and greater oversight.
In 2019-2020: 66% of requests were closed within the required timeframes – the highest rate in 5 years.
Since June 1, 2020: National Defence's ATI and Privacy Directorate closed approximately 3000 requests.
Since 2011-2012, National Defence has ranged among the top five departments for highest volume of access to information requests received.
National Defence has a dedicated team responsible for coordinating requests made under the Access to Information (ATI) Act and the Privacy Act. National Defence has established a dedicated team to address the backlog and accelerate the fulfillment of requests.
In 2019-20, National Defence received a total of 216 complaints from the Office of the Information Commissioner, compared to 143 received the last reporting period. National Defence established a dedicated team to address complaints. The number of well-founded complaints has decreased from 54 to 30.
The Office of the Information Commissioner Investigation into National Defence
On December 21, 2018, the Information Commissioner of Canada initiated an investigation into National Defence based on allegations that the department inappropriately withheld information during the processing of access to information requests. The investigation was concluded on February 28, 2020.
On July 22, 2020, the Information Commissioner tabled a Special Report to Parliament on this investigation. The report highlighted nine areas of improvement and contained a letter to the Minister of National Defence issuing the Information Commissioner's findings and recommendations, as well as the response from the Minister.
National Defence is in the process of implementing the recommendations flowing from this systemic investigation, including reviewing, streamlining, and updating processes across the Department.
Access to Information During the COVID-19 Crisis
The Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) issued guidance to departments and agencies to make best efforts to process requests under the ATI and Privacy Act in accordance with operational realities and mindful of the measures undertaken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
National Defence's ATI and Privacy Directorate activated its business continuity plan on March 13, 2020, and employees began working from home where feasible. Every reasonable effort was made to continue processing requests. The ATI and Privacy Directorate Business Resumption Plan was enacted on June 1, 2020, with the return to on-site operations. The ATI and Privacy Directorate continues to explore technological solutions that will enable the Department to respond to requests more efficiently.