Annual report to Parliament on the application of the Access to Information Act 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018

Table of contents

Place du Centre
200 Promenade du Portage
4th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1K8

20 June 2018

The Honourable Karina Gould, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Democratic Institutions and
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Dear Minister:

In accordance with section 72 of the Access to Information Act, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is pleased to submit to Parliament this report on its activities relating to the application of the Act for the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

Sincerely,

The original version was signed by
Kathleen Fox
Chair

1.0 Introduction

Pursuant to section 72 of the Access to Information Act, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is pleased to table in Parliament this report on its activities relating to the application of the Act. The report covers the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018.

The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to provide a right of access to information to records under the control of government institutions such as the TSB.

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act provides the legal framework that governs TSB activities. Our mandate is to advance transportation safety in the marine, pipeline, rail and air modes of transportation by:

  • conducting independent investigations, including public inquiries when necessary, into selected transportation occurrences in order to make findings as to their causes and contributing factors;
  • identifying safety deficiencies, as evidenced by transportation occurrences;
  • making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce any such safety deficiencies; and
  • reporting publicly on our investigations and on the findings in relation thereto.

More information on the TSB is available at www.tsb-bst.gc.ca.

The TSB's administration of its Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) activities is in accordance with the government's stated principles that government information should be available to the public with only specific and limited exceptions. Furthermore, the TSB treats personal information in compliance with the code of fair information practices expressed in the Privacy Act.

2.0 ATIP Office organization

During 2017–18, the General Counsel held the responsibilities of the ATIP Coordinator. The ATIP Office also consisted of five full-time positions, one term position and a casual position.

The ATIP Office centrally administers both formal requests made pursuant to the Act and informal requests, and provides functional advice and guidance to managers and employees concerning the release of information and protection of privacy. In addition, ATIP analysts are required to exhibit strong consultative and negotiating skills when dealing with requesters, third parties, TSB personnel, and representatives of the Office of the Information Commissioner.

The majority of access to information requests made to the TSB pertain to transportation occurrences. Such requests present many challenges for the TSB ATIP Office. In many cases, requests are for a copy of the complete investigation file. Depending on the nature and scope of the investigation, there may be many thousands of often complex records in a variety of media. For example, an investigation file can contain data records, voice recordings, witness statements, laboratory reports, and third-party records of the transport operator, the manufacturer of components, maintenance logs for engines and pilots' logs. Considering the volume of records and required consultations, the time required to process such requests is extensive. The status of the investigation itself also affects the access to records and when information may be released under the Act.

As considerable expertise is required in the processing of requests, the TSB ATIP function is organized so that ATIP analysts are responsible for centrally reviewing and severing all records. This requires that the analysts remain current with the investigation operations of the various transportation modes and their particular activities, as well as maintain good working relationships with the investigators and a multitude of stakeholders.

3.0 Delegation of authority

As required by the legislation, a delegation of authority is in place. For the purposes of the Access to Information Act, the "head of the institution" as defined in section 3 of the Act is the Chair of the TSB. The incumbents of the positions of General Counsel, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior ATIP Analyst have been delegated powers by the Chair deemed appropriate for the effective administration of the Act. These employees ensure that the TSB meets all its obligations fairly and consistently. The delegation authority was not updated in 2017–18 and dates from January 5, 2017. A copy of the Delegation Order is attached as Appendix A.

4.0 Disposition of requests

4.1 Formal requests

Eighty (80) new requests were received under the Access to Information Act in 2017–18 and twenty-four (24) requests were brought forward from the previous fiscal year, for a total of one hundred and four (104) active requests. Of these, eighty-nine (89) were completed during the current reporting period, and fifteen (15) were carried forward to the next fiscal year. The following table shows the variation in workload over the past few years.

Table 1. Number and variation of formal requests over the past few years
Formal requests 2014–15 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18
Received during reporting period 72 89 119 80
Outstanding from previous period 30 29* 24 24
Total requests in-process during reporting period 102 118 143 104
Completed during reporting period 75 94 119 89
Carried over to next reporting period 27 24 24 15

* includes two (2) files created in error

Of the eighty-nine (89) requests completed during the current reporting period, records were fully disclosed to applicants in twenty-one (21) cases. Records did not exist for nine (9) requests, one (1) request was transferred to another institution, and eight (8) requests were abandoned by their requester at various stages of the process. Records pertaining to forty-seven (47) requests were released with some portions exempted, and records for two (2) requests were fully exempted.

A breakdown of the exemptions and exclusions exercised in the reporting period is as follows:

Table 2. Exemptions and Exclusions
Exemption or Exclusion Exemption description Number of times applied
13 Obtained in confidence from other levels of government 17
14 Federal–provincial affairs 0
15 International affairs and defence 0
16 Law enforcement & investigation (Security) 6
17 Safety of individuals 0
18 Economic interest of Canada 3
19 Personal information 48
20 Third-party information 48
21 Operations of government 36
22 Testing procedures 1
23 Solicitor–client privilege 8
24 Statutory prohibitions 6
26 Information to be published 0
68 Published material 5
69 Cabinet confidences 0

4.2 Clients

As shown in the chart below, forty-five (45) new requests came from business/legal firms representing clients affected by or involved in transportation occurrences. The other requesters were twenty-one (21) members of the public, nine (9) media sources, four (4) organizations, and one (1) member of academia. No requesters declined to identify a category.

Source of requests
Pie chart showing source of requests

4.3 Processing of requests

The number of new requests received in 2017–18 decreased by thirty-three percent (33%) compared to the previous reporting period (which had increased by a similar proportion last year). The decrease can be attributed to the absence of further requests related to high-profile investigations such as the Lac-Mégantic train derailment and the ORNGE air ambulance helicopter crash. Open government and more data available online to the public may also have contributed to the decrease in the number of requests.

The ATIP Office makes every possible effort to process requests within the 30-day time limit as required by legislation. However, many of the requests received by the TSB continue to involve a large volume of records, which also pertain to third-party information, requiring consultations, both domestically and internationally, before the information can be released.

The TSB decreased the human resources dedicated to ATIP in 2017–18 by 1.23 full-time employees (FTEs) compared to 2016–17, from 6.33 to 5.1 FTEs. The number of completed requests in 2017–18 also decreased by thirty (30) requests to a total of eighty-nine (89), or 33% less than in the previous fiscal year, 2016–17. The TSB was able to respond within 30 days or less in 53 (60%) of the 89 completed cases, the same proportion as in 2016–17. The completion times for the remaining requests are detailed in the table below. It is important to note that the deadlines for many of these requests were legally extended under the Act.

Table 3. Percentage of files per completion time category
Completion time 2015–16 2016–17 2017–18
30 days or less 70% 60% 60%
31–60 days 9% 17% 8%
61–120 days 3% 8% 18%
121–180 days 3% 6% 9%
181–365 days 10% 3% 2%
Over 365 days 5% 6% 3%

The average time taken to process a request during the 2017–18 reporting period decreased slightly to 80 calendar days, compared with last year's average of 82 calendar days.

During this period, for requests that were completed, the ATIP Office was involved in the search, preparation, and review of 43,187 pages of information (compared to 121,224 pages in 2016–17, and 73,983 pages in 2015–16) and the reproduction and release of 20,165 pages of information (compared to 60,571 pages in 2016–17, and 43,724 pages in 2015–16), including reprints of photographs, video and audio recordings. It is important to note that large audio and video files that can be hours in length that require search, review, and preparation for release are counted only as one (1) page per one (1) audio file and/or one (1) video record.

5.0 Fees and costs

The TSB collected $330 in fees during 2017–18 and waived $70 in application fees. The TSB maintains the right to waive the application fees.

The ATIP Office incurred an estimated $461,827 in costs to administer the Access to Information Act in 2017–18. These costs include salaries, overtime, goods and services, and professional services contracts for temporary help staff, but do not include the resources expended by other areas of the TSB to meet the requirements of the Act.

6.0 Other requests

The ATIP Office received twenty-six (26) consultation requests from other departments and agencies in 2017–18 (representing 762 pages to review), compared to twenty-two (22) requests in 2016–17 (nineteen [19] in 2015–16). However, this increase in the number of requests represents a decrease in the number of pages requested to be reviewed (762 pages), if we exclude the pages that were outstanding from the previous year (1062 pages). In total, 1824 pages were processed in 2017–18 (compared to 1746 pages in 2016–17, and 384 pages in 2015–16).

Two (2) informal requests were received during 2017–18, compared with twenty-five (25) in 2016–17, and fifty-two (52) in 2015–16. These figures do not include other information requests responded to directly by the Communications Branch, the Operational Services Branch, and other areas of the TSB. In addition, many publications—such as investigation reports, safety studies, statistical reports, occurrence database extracts, news releases, investigation updates, and annual reports, including ATIP reports to Parliament—are readily available on the TSB website. New directives on transparency and open government with more data being made accessible online can explain the significant decrease in these types of requests.

7.0 Training and education

The TSB has an orientation program in place for new employees, which includes training on ATIP awareness. In addition, the TSB made it mandatory for all staff to attend more comprehensive ATIP training sessions given by the ATIP Office. During 2017–18, the ATIP Office provided three (3) training sessions to thirty-two (32) employees at headquarters and regional offices, as part of the new employee orientation program. The ATIP Office also provides advice and guidance upon request to individuals and small groups of employees.

Given the responsibilities and knowledge requirements of the TSB ATIP Office, there is a long learning curve for its staff. Continuous on-the-job training is provided to ATIP staff to ensure sound and current knowledge of ATIP requirements and procedures, as well as TSB operations. In this context, ATIP staff attended all ATIP Community Meetings organized by the Treasury Board Secretariat during 2017–18. These Community Meetings provided ATIP staff with valuable information on trends and best practices within the ATIP circle, updates on recent complaints and court cases, and tools to help improve service standards within the field. Additionally, a specialized lawyer on the Access to Information and Privacy acts presented to ATIP staff on the latest case-law trends of relevance for the TSB.

8.0 Policies, guidelines, and procedures

There were no changes to the policies, guidelines, and procedures for 2017–18.

9.0 Complaints and investigations

Three (3) new complaints were received by the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC) during 2017–18 and three (3) complaints remain outstanding from a prior year. Two (2) complaints were closed during 2017–18.

Three (3) new complaints received by the OIC during 2017–18 alleged that the TSB has improperly applied exemptions, so as to unjustifiably deny access to records, or portions thereof, requested under the Access to Information Act. The TSB provided a copy of the processing files to the OIC and the complaints are pending.

Three (3) previous complaints received by the OIC during 2016–17 alleging that records should exist are yet to be resolved. However, the TSB had no records related to these specific requests. The TSB provided a copy of the processing file to the OIC, and the complaints continue to await decisions.

A complaint received by the OIC during 2015–16 alleging that the TSB had improperly applied exemptions, so as to unjustifiably deny access to records, or portions thereof, requested under the Access to Information Act was resolved. The complaint also alleged that the TSB had failed to respond within the time frame set out by the Act (and unreasonable extension). The complaint was investigated by the OIC during 2016–17. Following discussion with the OIC investigator, the TSB disclosed additional information to the requester, but also maintained protections on portions of the records requested. During 2017–18, the OIC recorded the complaint as discontinued by the complainant.

Another complaint received by the OIC during 2015–16 alleged that TSB had improperly applied exemptions, so as to unjustifiably deny access to records, or portions thereof, requested under the Access to Information Act. The complaint was investigated by the OIC. Following discussion with the OIC investigator, the TSB disclosed additional information to the requester, but also maintained protections on portions of the records. The OIC recorded the complaint to be well founded and resolved.

10.0 Monitoring process

The TSB monitors the time to process access to information requests, through weekly bilateral meetings between the General Counsel (ATIP Coordinator) and the Senior ATIP Analyst during which the status of outstanding requests is reviewed. Any significant issues, such as the need for assistance in processing a particularly complex request, are raised and discussed with the Chief Operating Officer on an ad-hoc basis.

11.0 Statistics required by Treasury Board

The statistics required by the Treasury Board Secretariat are found in Appendix B.

Appendices

Appendix A – Delegation order

5 January 2017

Designation orders - Access to Information Act

The Chair of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, pursuant to Section 73 of the Access to Information Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the table below, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the specified powers and perform the related duties and functions of the Chair as the Head of a government institution under the Access to Information Act.

This designation replaces the designation date 1 June 2015.

Postions Sections of the Access to Information Act
Chair All sections
Chief Operating Officer All sections
General Counsel All sections
Senior ATIP Analyst Section 8(1) - transfers
Section 9 - extensions

The original version was signed by
Kathleen Fox
Chair

Appendix B – Statistical report

Statistical report on the Access to Information Act

Name of Institution: Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Reporting Period: 2017-04-01 to 2018-03-31

Part 1: Requests under the Access to Information Act
1.1 Number of requests
  Number of requests
Received during reporting period 80
Outstanding from previous reporting period 24
Total 104
Closed during reporting period 89
Carried over to next reporting period 15
1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number of requests
Media 9
Academia 1
Business (private sector) 45
Organization 4
Public 21
Decline to Identify 0
Total 80
1.3 Informal requests - Completion time
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

Note: All requests previously recorded as “treated informally” will now be accounted for in this section only.

TBS/SCT 350-63 (Rev. 2011/03)

Part 2: Requests closed during the reporting period
2.1 Disposition and completion time
Disposition of requests Completion time
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
All disclosed 13 5 2 1 0 0 0 21
Disclosed in part 7 11 3 14 8 2 2 47
All exempted 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2
All excluded 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
No records exist 9 5 1 0 0 0 0 9
Request transferred 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Request abandoned 4 1 1 1 1 0 1 8
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 36 17 7 16 8 2 3 89
2.2 Exemptions
Section Number of requests
13(1)(a) 7
13(1)(b) 0
13(1)(c) 8
13(1)(d) 2
13(1)(e) 0
14 0
14(a) 0
14(b) 0
15(1) 0
15(1) - I.A.* 0
15(1) - Def.* 0
15(1) - S.A.* 0
16(1)(a)(i) 0
16(1)(a)(ii) 2
16(1)(a)(iii) 0
16(1)(b) 1
16(1)(c) 2
16(1)(d) 0
16(2) 0
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 1
16(3) 0
16.1(1)(a) 0
16.1(1)(b) 0
16.1(1)(c) 0
16.1(1)(d) 0
16.2(1) 0
16.3 0
16.4(1)(a) 0
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 0
17 0
18(a) 0
18(b) 1
18(c) 0
18(d) 0
18.1(1)(a) 0
18.1(1)(b) 0
18.1(1)(c) 0
18.1(1)(d) 2
19(1) 48
20(1)(a) 14
20(1)(b) 21
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(c) 10
20(1)(d) 3
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 7
21(1)(b) 29
21(1)(c) 0
21(1)(d) 0
22 1
22.1(1) 0
23 8
24(1) 6
26 0

* I.A.: International Affairs
Def.:  Defence of Canada
S.A.:  Subversive Activities

2.3 Exclusions
Section Number of requests
68(a) 5
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 0
68.2(b) 0
69(1) 0
69(1)(a) 0
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 0
69(1)(d) 0
69(1)(e) 0
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re (a) 0
69(1)(g) re (b) 0
69(1)(g) re (c) 0
69(1)(g) re (d) 0
69(1)(g) re (e) 0
69(1)(g) re (f) 0
69.1(1) 0
2.4 Format of information released
Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 2 19 0
Disclosed in part 3 44 0
Total 5 63 0

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests
All disclosed 589 529 21
Disclosed in part 41468 19636 47
All exempted 1 0 2
All excluded 1 0 1
Request abandoned 1128 0 8
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0
2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less Than 100
Pages
Processed
101-500
Pages
Processed
501-1000
Pages
Processed
1001-5000
Pages
Processed
More Than 5000
Pages
Processed
Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed
All disclosed 20 387 1 142 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 12 382 19 2221 6 2729 8 11116 2 3188
All exempted 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 6 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 41 769 22 2363 6 2729 8 11116 2 3188
2.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation
required
Assessment
of fees
Legal advice
sought
Other Total
All disclosed 6 0 0 0 6
Disclosed in part 34 0 1 0 35
All exempted 1 0 0 0 1
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 5 0 0 0 5
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0
Total 46 0 1 0 47

2.6 Deemed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline Principal reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
7 5 1 1 0
2.6.2 Number of days past deadline
Number of days past deadline Number of requests past deadline where no extension was taken Number of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 0 1 1
16 to 30 days 0 2 2
31 to 60 days 0 1 1
61 to 120 days 0 0 0
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0
More than 365 days 0 3 3
Total 0 7 7
2.7 Requests for translation
Translation requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0
Part 3 - Extensions
3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of requests where an extension was taken 9(1)(a)
Interference with operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c)
Third-party notice
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 3 0 3 1
Disclosed in part 11 0 22 18
All exempted 0 0 1 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 1 0 3 2
Total 15 0 29 21
3.2 Length of extensions
Length of extensions 9(1)(a)
Interference with operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c)
Third-party notice
Section 69 Other
30 days or less 5 0 3 18
31 to 60 days 5 0 10 2
61 to 120 days 1 0 11 1
121 to 180 days 3 0 2 0
181 to 365 days 1 0 3 0
365 days or more 0 0 0 0
Total 15 0 29 21
Part 4 - Fees
Fees
Fee type Fee collected Fee waived or refunded
Number of
requests
Amount Number of
requests
Amount
Application 66 $330 14 $70
Search 0 $0 0 $0
Production 0 $0 0 $0
Programming 0 $0 0 $0
Preparation 0 $0 0 $0
Alternative format 0 $0 0 $0
Reproduction 0 $0 0 $0
Total 66 $330 14 $70
Part 5 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations
5.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and organizations
Consultations Other Government of Canada Institutions Number of pages to review Other Organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 26 762 0 0
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 1 1062 0 0
Total 27 1824 0 0
Closed during the reporting period 26 1819 0 0
Pending at the end of the reporting period 1 5 0 0
5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions
Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More than 365 Days Total
Disclose entirely 12 2 0 0 0 0 0 14
Disclose in part 5 1 2 0 1 0 0 9
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 3
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 18 5 2 0 1 0 0 26
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
Disclose entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Part 6: Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences
6.1 Requests with legal services
Number of days Fewer than 100 pages processed 101-500 pages processed 501-1000
pages processed
1001-5000
pages processed
More than 5000
pages processed
Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of days Fewer than 100 pages processed 101‒500 pages processed 501-1000
pages processed
1001-5000
pages processed
More than 5000
pages processed
Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed Number of
requests
Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Part 7 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act
Resources related to the Access to Information Act
Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
3 4 1 8
Part 8: Court action
Court action
Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 0 0
Part 9 - Resources Related to the Access to Information Act
9.1 Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $436,784
Overtime $78
Goods and Services $24,965
   • Professional services contracts $0  
   • Other $24,965  
Total $461,827
9.2 Human resources
Resources Person years dedicated to access to information activities
Full-time employees 5.10
Part-time and casual employees 0.00
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 5.10

Note: Enter values to two decimal places.

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