OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 12/19/12 -- The Government of Canada is providing Canadians with more access to government information than ever before according to an annual report released today that tracks statistics on the Government's Access to Information and Privacy program.
The Government completed 43,664 access to information requests in 2011-12, nearly double that of a decade ago, according to the Info Source: Statistical Reporting Bulletin. In that time, the number of institutions falling under the ATIP purview has expanded significantly while the complexity of each request has increased substantially due to evolving digital technology.
"Technology has revolutionized access to information. It is not uncommon for a request to encompass 20,000 pages of government information and half a dozen departments," said the Honourable Tony Clement, President of the Treasury Board. "Our ability to keep abreast of these rapid-fire changes and improve our response times reflects our Government's commitment to Canadians' right to access."
In the past year, the Government has introduced a pilot project to receive ATIP requests and payments online, and has made the online posting of summaries of completed ATIP requests mandatory. By sharing this information, processing time and costs can be reduced.
While technology is enhancing Canadians' ability to access information, the Government has also taken major strides to expand the purview of available information. Under the 2007 Federal Accountability Act, the ATIP program was extended to 250 institutions and Crown corporations. The Open Government initiative has made some 273,000 government datasets publicly available on the Open Data Portal.
"Our Government is the most transparent government in Canadian history," said Minister Clement. "There has never been a time when Canadians have had as much access to government information."
The Government's efforts have been recognized by the Office of the Information Commissioner. The Commissioner has noted the "measurable improvement across the system", pointing to a significant reduction in backlogged requests and a 58% drop in complaints in 2011-12.
According to Info Source, between 2002-03 and 2006-07 the total number of requests increased by 27% and of these, the number of requests completed within 30 days dropped dramatically from 69% to 57.8%. In contrast, since 2006-07, the number of requests has jumped by nearly 50% but the number of requests completed within 30 days has remained relatively steady at 55.3%.
The Government of Canada continues to invest in the robustness of the ATIP system, increasing spending by $15 million (34%) over the past five years. In addition to training ATIP professionals, the Government is expanding the statistical information collected by the program.
For the first time, this year's Info Source Bulletin contains new data related to the number of pages processed and disclosed, as well as information on departmental consultations and extensions. These were collected to understand and improve the functioning of the ATIP program across government.
The annual Info Source: Statistical Reporting Bulletin is available on the Treasury Board Secretariat website.
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