Information and Privacy Commissioner Bob Clark today released Investigation Report 2000-IR-001. The report concludes an investigation into a complaint that the Office of the Auditor General breached the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the “Act”) when processing an access request.
On March 30th, 2000, the Complainant wrote to the Commissioner alleging that the Office of the Auditor General;
- Did not respond to the Complainant’s access request in accordance with the time limits specified by the Act;
- Had released no information although the time limits to respond had expired; and
- Did not make every reasonable effort to assist the Complainant and to respond to the Complainant openly, accurately and completely.
The investigation found that the Office of the Auditor General extended the time limits for response in order to comply with the requirements of section 30 of the FOIP Act, which deals with notification to third parties. The Act requires that a public body respond to an access request not later than 30 days after receiving it. However, the Act allows the 30-day time limit for response to be extended under certain circumstances, such as notification to third parties. Therefore, the Office of the Auditor General’s extension was in accordance with the Act.
On February 18th, 2000, the Office of the Auditor General wrote to the Complainant to advise that an extension was required. In that letter, the Office of the Auditor General explained the reason for the extension and advised that records requested would be released on April 18th, 2000 if no third party intervention on the decision to disclose was filed with the Commissioner’s office. The investigation found that the records requested were released on April 18th.
The Complainant did not clarify how the Office of the Auditor General failed to assist the Complainant. As the Complainant did not return calls from this office, the investigation proceeded on the information that was before this office. The investigation found no evidence of failure by the Office of the Auditor General to assist the Complainant as provided under the Act. The Office of the Auditor General attempted to contact the Complainant to clarify the scope of the access request; kept the Complainant informed as to the progress of the processing of the request; notified the Complainant in accordance with the Act; and released the records requested on the date specified.