8 Sep 2021

Higher number of complaints filed over access to official information

5:20 pm on 8 September 2021

Complaints to the Ombudsman about access to official information have increased in the past 12 months.

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Redacted information received after an Official Information Act request. (file pic) Photo: RNZ

The data covered complaints about both the Official Information Act (OIA) and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) from 1 January 2021 until the end of June, and compared the period from July to December 2020.

Complaints about the Official Information Act were up 8 percent, and complaints about local government were up 30 percent.

Peter Boshier said the most common complaint was to do with refusals to provide information.

"There may be a number of reasons why information requests are refused and requesters were doing the right thing by complaining to the Chief Ombudsman if they were unhappy with the response.

"However, it is useful for both requesters and agencies to be aware of their obligations under both the OIA and LGOIMA. The Acts support democratic, open and transparent central and local government. But there are occasions, detailed in the Acts, when information cannot and should not be released.

"My office is happy to provide advice to requesters and agencies."

Complaints about refusals to provide information, either in full or in part, made up 55 percent of OIA complaints, while they made up 49 percent of LGOIMA complaints.

Over the 2020-2021 year, 1389 complaints about OIA decisions were received, up 5 percent on 2019-2020.

Over the same period, 324 complaints about LGOIMA decisions were received, down 8 percent on the previous year.

Refusals in full or in part for OIAs were up 6 percent to 746. Refusals in full or in part for LGOIMAs were down 2 percent to 165.

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