8 Sep 2018

Ombudsman tackling increase in complaints about OIA requests

6:13 pm on 8 September 2018

The number of complaints made about requests for official information has risen, the Ombudsman says.

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Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The latest figures of Official Information Act data shows there have been a total of 697 complaints during the first six months of this year, which is 24 more than in the last half of 2017.

The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said more than 400 complaints came from individuals - three times as many as from media.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.

Peter Boshier Photo: Office of the Ombudsman

Judge Boshier said the increase may be partly attributed to the electoral cycle.

"Traditionally complaints ease off as an election approaches and then pick up again once a new government is formed," he said.

Most of the complaints were related to agencies delaying or refusing to hand over information.

About a quarter of complaints were resolved early.

"I am very pleased to report that we were able to resolve a good number through our early resolution process despite the often contentious nature of OIA complaints," Judge Boshier said.

Another 249 were remedied through the agencies reconsidering their decisions on requests, apologising or giving out financial remedies.

Overall, complaints have increased by 30 percent this period compared with the same period two years ago.

"This may reflect increasing confidence in the ability of my office to deal with issues," Judge Boshier said.

"We have managed to clear a backlog of complaints and we are very much focussed on more timely investigations and resolutions."

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