Government agencies are committed to openness and transparency in the provision of public services to New Zealanders. The OIA gives New Zealanders the right to access information and is important for ensuring government is open and transparent.
This is why the State Services Commission publishes Official Information Act (OIA) statistics covering Crown entities and government departments subject to the OIA every six months. The Commission is working with the Office of the Ombudsman and government agencies to make more information publicly available and improve compliance with the OIA.
The Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman have published information on different aspects of compliance with the OIA.
OIA statistics for the State services
The Commission has published the sixth set of OIA statistics covering 113 different government agencies who are subject to the Act. Statistics for New Zealand Police and New Zealand Defence Force are not included in the overall statistics. They continue to be reported but are shown separately.
The statistics capture five elements:
- the number of requests completed by agencies between 1 January and 30 June 2019
- the number and proportion of these requests where legislative timeliness requirements were met
- the number of responses proactively published on an agency’s website
- OIA complaints to the Ombudsman that were notified to the agency
- final views issued by the Ombudsman where a deficiency was identified.
The State Services Commission has been working to create a consistent and comprehensive set of data for analysing agencies’ OIA performance. Information has been gathered and published by the Commission and agencies over time to demonstrate compliance with the letter and spirit of the Act. The Commission expects to see performance levels maintained or improved, and encourages agencies to also progressively increase the amount of information proactively released.
The Commission has published guidance and other materials for agencies to help them improve their capability and streamline their OIA processes. The Commission also holds regular events for government officials focused on increasing access to official information, including through proactive release and the publication of OIA responses.
This assists agencies to increase their understanding of their OIA workload and work-flow, better demonstrate compliance with the Act, and increase the amount of official information publicly available.
Complaints data published by the Chief Ombudsman
The Office of the Ombudsman publishes information on complaints about agencies’ OIA responses.
The OIA performance statistics released by the Commission provide important context for the complaints data, as the number of complaints received does not on its own provide an accurate picture of compliance with the OIA.
Agencies with high levels of engagement with New Zealanders also tend to receive the largest numbers of OIA requests. While larger numbers of OIA requests may be associated with higher numbers of complaints to the Ombudsman, the number of complaints as a proportion of requests received may be in line with, or even lower than agencies with smaller numbers of requests.
The Chief Ombudsman’s report is available on the Office on the Ombudsman’s website.