Today, the Information Commissioner of Canada tabled in Parliament a special report entitledOpen Outlook, Open Access-2009-2010 Report Card. This Report Card attributes to CBC/Radio-Canada a rating of “F”, which means unsatisfactory, for its management of Access to Information requests in fiscal year 2009-2010.
CBC/Radio-Canada is not satisfied with this rating and is firmly committed to getting a better rating next time by continuing to improve considerably its efficiency in dealing with requests.
This rating is disappointing for us, but not totally unexpected. We have openly acknowledged for some time now our difficulties in dealing with the initial large volume of requests we received when we became subject to the Act in September 2007. This initial caseload has had a long-term impact on our operations, an impact that is recognized by the Commissioner herself in her report, as are our recent improvements in responding to ATI requests.
Our efforts to address this issue have born fruit, particularly over the last year, but unfortunately these improvements are not reflected in the 2009-2010 Report Card.
For example, what is called the “deemed refusal” rate established at 57.7% for 2009/2010 has been reduced to 20% this year. We have also cut by two thirds the average number of days to respond to a request, from a high of 187 in 2008/2009 to 61 this year. And we have not received a single deemed refusal complaint since April 1st, 2010.
We continue to work hard to improve. We have been dedicating more resources to processing requests, developing better internal procedures and working collaboratively with the Commissioner’s staff to respond to formal complaints in a way that is prioritized, open and transparent. And we are doing this as we continue to receive a heavy volume of requests for information, when compared to other organizations included in the 2009-2010 Report Card. To date, CBC/Radio-Canada has received 1341 requests for information under the Act. Of those, we have responded to 1312 and have released over 77,800 pages of information. This year alone, while we have received 316 requests, we have been able to process 327 requests, thus continuing to reduce the type of backlog that has influenced negatively the rating we received for 2009-2010.
This year, we also took our commitment to ATI beyond what is required under the Act by posting on our website over 24,000 pages of documents that have been released under ATI. These documents include information on agendas, audits, policies, and retreats as well as all invoices submitted with the expenses of senior management. This is in addition to the expense reports we already proactively publish each quarter.
The response from Canadians to this unprecedented initiative for a federal institution has been very positive, with thousands of page views to the proactive disclosure section of our website since it was established.
Transparency and accountability are priorities for CBC/Radio-Canada. The actions we have taken in this past year are significant and speak to our commitment to continue to improve on those fronts so that Canadians can have confidence that the resources invested in CBC/Radio-Canada are used effectively.