1 in 10 OIA requests get stuck

Government agencies handled Official Information Act requests on time in more than 90 per cent of cases, according to State Services Commission figures.

The figures for the year ended June 2016 covered 110 agencies and are the first set to be published.

They show 40,273 OIA requests during the period, with about half being received by police, the Earthquake Commission and Corrections.

An average of 91 per cent of responses were handled on time, while the median rate was 96 per cent.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes says the number of requests is a large one and agencies are investing a lot of resources in responding.

However, he expects them to respond in accordance to the act, which is as soon as practicable, and in a maximum of 20 working days, unless there are grounds for an extension.

During the June year, the timeliness that agencies responded ranged from 39 per cent to 100 per cent on time.

While one-third of agencies reached a rate of 99 per cent or better, a quarter were below 85 per cent.

“Most agencies are working hard to respond on time and are achieving a good standard of timeliness,” Mr Hughes said.

“It is clear that some agencies need to improve and have work to do to lift their performance.”

Mr Hughes said district health boards stood out as an agency group that was not meeting its timeliness obligations, which was a concern.

It’s hard to ascertain how serious this problem is.  Some OIA requests are ridiculously onerous on the various departments.  It’s amazing how much work one poorly worded request can generate.

But on the other hand, there are a large proportion of delays which are clearly political or strategic.  These delays do not serve the taxpayer at all.

As I’ve outlined in the past, incoming governments love the OIA process because they can get all the dirt on the previous government out and shift the blame.  But as governments become more established and create their own history they want to hide from, the OIAs start to slowly grind down.

One of the metrics that have not been reported on is how much of the OIA requests come directly from opposition parties, how many come from known/full time/dedicated political activists, and how many from the media.

I would suspect that the number of OIA requests from general tax payers that do fewer than three a year is insignificant compared to those.

 

NZN via Yahoo! News

 


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