Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act 2018-2019

Statistical Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act

Number and Origin of Formal Requests

During the 2018-2019 reporting period, CSE received 66 requests under the ATIA (compared to 104, 144, and 92 in 2017-2018, 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 respectively) which represents a decrease from the last several reporting periods. CSE carried over an additional 70 requests from the previous reporting period into 2018-2019. By the end of the 2018-2019 fiscal year, CSE closed 61 requests totalling 2,565 pages processed, and carried-forward 75 requests into the next reporting period. In general, due to the sensitivity of the information and the volume of records, the requests received during 2018-2019 were more complex than those received in previous years. Media has been the largest source of requests for the past four reporting periods accounting for 68% of new requests in 2018-2019. Requests from the public and Academia made up 14% of the total requests received.

 
Table: Received Requests
Source Received Requests
2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Access 98 92 144 104 66
Access Consultations 107 74 79 105 107

Disposition of Completed Requests

CSE closed 61 requests during this reporting period. Of these, 37 were disclosed in part, four (4) resulted in full disclosure and (1) one was exempted in its entirety. Disclosures-in-part accounted for 61% of completed requests. There were 10 cases in which no records existed and 2 requests were abandoned by the applicants. CSE closed 21 fewer ATIA requests in 2018-2019 than the previous year due to competing operational priorities as well as staffing challenges. As CSE’s public profile continues to increase, the complexity/volume of requests made under the Access to Information Act has continued to rise. The significant increase in the volume of pages in consultations received and the difficulty of maintaining sufficient resources made finalizing requests a challenge. CSE intends to align its resources and enhance its processes in 2019-2020 to improve on this result.

 
Table: Closed Requests
Source Closed Requests
2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Access 128 87 138 82 61
Access Consultations 118 79 75 82 96

 
Table: Disposition of Completed Requests
Disposition

Completed Requests

2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
All Disclosed 2% 5% 4% 1% 7%
Disclosed in part 60% 64% 71% 55% 61%
All Exempted 3% 1% 2% 2% 2%
All Excluded 2% 0% 0% 0% 0%
No records exist 15% 6% 11% 20% 16%
Request abandoned 13% 18% 8% 11% 3%
Neither confirm nor Deny 0% 6% 2% 11% 11%
Request Transferred 0% 0% 1% 0% 0%

Neither Confirm Nor Deny

Section 10(2) of the Act states that institutions do not have to disclose to a requester whether a record exists. Section 10(2) was designed to address situations in which the mere confirmation of a record’s existence (or non-existence) would reveal information that could be protected under the Act. Access to information best practices recommend that the application of section 10(2) be limited to circumstances where the confirmation or denial of the existence of a record would be injurious to Canada’s foreign relations, the defence of Canada, law enforcement activities and the safety of individuals, and the possible disclosure of personal information. When notifying a requester that it is invoking this provision, institutions must also indicate the part of the Act on which a refusal could reasonably be expected to be based if the record existed. The application of subsection 10(2) was used on seven (7) occasions during the 2018-2019 reporting period.

Completion Time

Almost half of ATIP requests were closed within 30 days in the 2018-2019 reporting periods. This can be attributed to the volume and complexity of requests, as well as resource issues. The 26 requests closed within 30 days in 2018-2019 represent 43% of the total completed requests. Several requests closed outside the 30 days were a result of extensions based on volume and the need for external consultations. CSE closed 16 (sixteen) requests in 31 to 60 days; thirteen (13) requests between 61 to 120 days; two (2) requests between 121 to 180 days; three (3) request between 181- 365 days; and one (1) took more than 365 days to process. Seventy-five (75) requests were carried forward into 2019-2020 compared to (70) seventy from 2017-2018 into 2018-2019 due to the increased complexity of the requests received. In general, due to the sensitivity of the information and the volume of records, the requests received during 2018-2019 were more complex than those received in previous years.

 
Table: Completion Time
Days Completion Time
2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Closed within 30 days 38% 55% 58% 55% 43%
31 to 60 days 13% 9% 9% 23% 26%
61 to 120 days 17% 23% 15% 10% 21%
121 to 180 days 8% 2% 4% 10% 3%
181 to 365 days 16% 5% 7% 1% 5%
More than 365 days 9% 6% 7% 1% 2%

Exemptions to the Release of Information

The exemption most applied by CSE was subsection 15(1) - Defence of the Access to Information Act. It was applied to protect information which could be reasonably expected to be injurious to the defence of Canada on 38 requests. Subsection 15(1) – International Affairs was also used 8 times to protect information that could be injurious to the conduct of international affairs. Other exemptions that were applied throughout the course of the fiscal year are paragraphs 16(2)(c), information relating to the vulnerability or methods used to protect particular buildings or other structures or systems and 19(1), personal information of individuals. The application of subsection 21(1), advice and recommendations, was consistent with the its application in the previous reporting period.

 
Table: Exemptions Applied (%)
Disposition

Completed Requests

2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
13(1)a) 28 33 20 9 0
15(1)-Def. 99 98 94 96 100
15(1) - A.I. 32 37 41 9 21
16(2)c) 36 32 39 43 32
19(1) 31 40 38 40 37
21(1)a) 31 12 30 13 11
21(1)b) 22 9 13 13 18
21(1)c) 9 5 4 4 3
21(1)d) 6 2 11 0 5
23 14 26 20 6 5
24(1) 1 5 9 4 0

Extension of the Time Limit

There was one (1) extensions taken pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Access to Information Act, however CSE took 10 extensions under paragraph 9(1)(b) to conduct consultations that could not be completed within the original time limit and no (0) extensions under paragraph 9(1)(c) to conduct third party consultations in accordance with subsection 27(1) of the Act. There was a decrease in extensions taken from the 2017-2018 reporting period, mainly attributed to a decrease in the number of required consultations with third parties.

Consultations

CSE was consulted on 107 requests during this fiscal year compared to 105 for the previous reporting period. Other government institutions accounted for 105 of the consultations while two (2) new consultation request was received from other organizations. CSE closed 96 consultations, and carried-over 43 into 2019-2020. In 2018-2019, CSE managed 137 ongoing consultation requests totalling 20,684 pages. Additionally, the receipt of ATIP consultation requests on historical records continues to contribute to an increase in volume resulting in 15,244 outstanding pages from the previous reporting period.

Requests Treated Informally

CSE responded to 58 informal requests for records previously released under the ATIA process in 2018-2019. This is a decrease from the 76 informal requests completed in 2017-2018. The 58 informal requests resulted in the re-release of over 104 previously disclosed packages.

Fees and Costs

The Service Fees Act requires a responsible authority to report annually to Parliament on the fees collected by the institution.

With respect to fees collected under the Access to Information Act, the information below is reported in accordance with the requirements of section 20 of the Service Fees Act.

  • Enabling authority: Access to Information Act
  • Fee amount: $5, the only fee charged for an ATI request
  • Total revenue: $355
  • Fees waived: In accordance with the Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, issued on May 5, 2016, the Communications Security Establishment waives all fees prescribed by the Act and Regulations, other than the $5 application fee set out in paragraph 7(1)(a) of the Regulations.
  • Cost of operating the program: $475,354.