State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes today released the Official Information Statistics for the six months to December 2018
The latest statistics cover 110 agencies that collectively completed 18,106 official information requests between July and December 2018, a 16.4% increase on the 15,551 requests for the previous six months.
Agencies responded to 17,265, or 95%, of requests on time, compared with the 94.7% requests answered on time in the January to June 2018 period.
Mr Hughes is pleased with what has been a steady improvement in timeliness since 2015, when the Commission started collecting OIA data, but says the challenge now is to maintain the momentum.
“It’s good to see the Public Service is continuing to head in the right direction on the issue of timeliness,” said Mr Hughes.
“New Zealanders expect requests for official information to be provided within the timeframe set by law, so government agencies must be constantly vigilant in handling requests for information, and I think they are doing that.
“The spirit of the Act is about making official information more freely available, which is a key ingredient for promoting good government and trust and confidence in the Public Service.”
Mr Hughes said it was particularly pleasing that District Health Boards had made good progress in the last six months, although a few still had plenty of room to improve.
Nine agencies completed more than 500 requests: Earthquake Commission, Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Justice and Department of Internal Affairs.
More agencies were also publishing OIA responses on their websites in the interests of transparency. This also ensured the public didn’t have to lodge further requests for the same information. In the last six months, 42 agencies published OIA responses on their websites, up from 26 in the previous six months. The number of responses published has gone from 375 last period to 1138, a 203% increase. This is on top of the increasing amount of official information being proactively released by agencies.
Fewer complaints to the Ombudsman were notified to agencies. There were 197 complaints to the Ombudsman notified to agencies, a 15.5 % decrease on the previous period. The Ombudsman made 29 final rulings against 9 agencies, a 29% decrease on the previous six months. The Ombudsman’s media release and complaints data are also available.
As signalled late last year, the non-Public Service departments subject to the Official Information Act, New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force, are not included in the latest numbers. They are now reported separately to focus attention on the results of public service agencies and better reflect the Commissioner’s mandate.
Together, New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Defence Force completed 21,225 OIA requests between July and December 2018 – representing 54% of total OIA responses.
Timeliness is not reported for New Zealand Police for this period. New Zealand Police has introduced a new system for tracking OIAs across its distributed operations but a design error, now fixed, meant it was not able to accurately report the number of requests that met the legislated timeframe for this period.
Media contact : Grahame Armstrong, 021 940 457