The federal government of Canada is using students and temp workers to help overwhelmed ATIP offices dig through surges in Access to Information requests. Canada ATIP offices have experienced a 28% increase in ATIP requests from 2012 to 2013 – up to a total of 55,145 requests in 2013. The outside help is meant to deal with the backlog resulting from these boosted request numbers. According to one ATIP director, internal staffing is suffering from ATIP analysts who “move from ATIP (office) to ATIP office.”
Large surges in ATIP requests can occur when large or unexpected events, such as national crises, occur. Sticky situations can arise when you have unexperienced temp workers dealing with sensitive government documents. ATIP analysts and managers need an expertise in ATIP law and requirements to work at peak efficiency. Another solution offered by Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is to create an “emergency response team” of expert ATIP officers to assist departments experiencing these request surges. Creating pools of qualified analysts could ensure that understaffed agencies always have experienced ATIP analysts to pull from.
Hiring temporary staff to work on ATIP management is just one option available to Canada offices. Automation tools, like ATIPXpress, can be key in reducing request backlog and increasing request response time. Management tools like these allow experienced ATIP workers to process a larger volume of requests while creating audit logs and reports to help measure success.