An Evidence-Based Approach to Access Reform (Working Paper 22)

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Roberts, Alasdair
DeWolfe, Jonathan
Stack, Christopher
Evidence , Access Reform , Internal Review , Access to Information Act , ATIA
In August 2000, the federal government began an internal review of the Access to Information Act (ATIA). The ATIA gives Canadians a qualified right of access to records held by federal institutions. Decisions about reform should be based on good evidence about the operation of the Act and the likely impact of proposed reforms. This paper describes how data on ATIA operations is collected by federal institutions and provides a guide to academic researchers interested in conducting empirical research on the operation of the law. It constructs a small dataset that describes the processing of a sample of 663 requests received in 1999, and uses this dataset to illustrate the potential of an evidence-based approach to ATIA reform. The dataset can be downloaded from The project was supported by a $4,800 grant from the Principal’s Development Fund of Queen’s University awarded in May 2001. Comments should be sent to the principal investigator, Alasdair Roberts, at
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