8 Sep 2020

Official Information Act request delays prompt more complaints

6:13 pm on 8 September 2020

Complaints about delays in Official Information Act (OIA) responses have risen in the last year.

Confidential papers

Photo: 123RF

But despite this, the Ombudsman says a recent small drop in complaints is a "good result" with Covid-19.

The number of complaints about delayed OIA responses dropped slightly in the six months to 30 June from the same period last year, from 157 to 144 (8 percent).

But the figures for the full year rose about 5 percent to 334.

"These results show we still have a long way to go," Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said.

Ombudsman Peter Boshier

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier. Photo: RNZ / Phil Smith

"Agencies must respond as soon as possible to all requests. It's a legal requirement, not a target, and I am determined to see all agencies meet it.

"On the other hand, it is good to see complaints about refusals to respond to OIA requests dropped by 5 percent over the year, even though it's too early to say if this is a trend."

In the six months to 30 June 2020, the Ombudsman received 551 OIA complaints and 154 LGOIMA complaints.

"As always, I would encourage agencies to pay attention to avoiding delays and be more transparent rather than reverting to releasing minimal amounts of information," Boshier said.

The data also shows police have continued to get the most complaints when it comes to OIA requests, at 103 in the last six months.

But they completed far more OIA requests than any other agency - more than 37,000.

The next busiest agency was the Earthquake Commission at nearly 6000.

When it comes to local government, Auckland Council had the most complaints at 21.

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