The numbers on the federal Access to Information Act (2012)

- April 21st, 2013

 

Some data and numbers for the federal government’s performance under the Access to Information Act (ATI).  This data may have been around for a while but I just stumbled across it today and think a few bits to be worthwhile.

This data, published by the government, is for the fiscal year 2011-2012 which would have ended on March 31, 2012. The most recent complete fiscal year for the government is the one that just ended a few weeks ago on March 31, 2013 but I suspect it will be a while before the books are closed on that year. So the data on FY2012 is, so far as I know, the most recent complete year snapshot.

Requests under the Access to Information Act Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 43,194
Outstanding from previous reporting period 8,138
Total 51,332
Closed during reporting period 43,664
Carried over to next reporting period 7,668

Who made all these requests? You might be surprised that private sector businesses and members of the public made up more than 80% of all requests. The media generated just 12% of all requests. (“Organization” in the chart below refers primarily to non-governmental organizations which would be mostly think tanks like the Sierra Club or the Fraser Institute)

 ATI

There are about 300 federal departments, institutions, Crown corporations and agencies that that fall under the Access to Information Act. But the one that gets the most ATI requests is Citizenship and Immigration Canada — and it’s not even close:

Rank Name of institution Requests as percentage Number of requests
1) Citizenship and Immigration Canada 47.6% 20,575
2) Canada Revenue Agency 5.2% 2,237
3) Canada Border Services Agency 4.3% 1,866
4) Health Canada 4.1% 1,763
5) National Defence 3.8% 1,645
6) Royal Canadian Mounted Police 3.3% 1,434
7) Environment Canada 3.3% 1,421
8) Foreign Affairs and International Trade 2.1% 892
9) Library and Archives of Canada 1.9% 821
10) Public Works and Government Services 1.7% 736
11) Other Institutions 22.6% 9,804
Total 100% 43,194

It cost more than $58 million in 2011-2012 to respond to all these requests. Remember, all a requester must provide the government when making a request is a cheque for $5. After that, the government has some strict rules about what it can charge requesters. But there is nothing in the Act, in any event that suggests departments should conduct their ATI function on a break-even basis.

Description of fees and costs Amount
Cost of operations $58,929,246.00
Requests completed 43,664
Average cost per completed request $1,349.61
Pages processed 9,400,918
Average cost per page processed $6.27
Fees collected $319,000.00
Average fees collected per completed request $7.31
Fees waived $139,358.00
Average fees waived per completed request $3.19

Researchers can find the ATI scorecard data for FY 2012 in a 16 MB XML file here.

Categories: Main Page, Politics

Subscribe to the post

1 comment

  1. Steve Jelly says:

    Given the cost and so on; begs the question – why once produced and disclosed is the information not released to all on a dedicated web site.

Comments are closed.