Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Government Ministers respond to OIA requests

A good post by No Right Turn overnight, indicating that government Ministers are regularly ignoring the law when responding to requests made under the Official Information Act.

Of more than 2000 requests to Ministers under the Official Information Act between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2010, just one Minister, Chris Finlayson, responded to all requests within the statutory 20 day period. All other Ministers have failed to uphold the law.

Overall, only 71 percent of requests were answered on time, while three Ministers - Jonathan Coleman, Tim Groser, and Judith Collins - made timely responses in only 50 percent of cases. One Minister, Gerry Brownlee, responded to less than 40 percent of requests within the statutory period.

Another Minister, Paula Bennett, refused to cooperate at all, offering various excuses before ultimately claiming that compiling the data would not be in the public interest. This refusal is now the subject of a complaint to the Ombudsman.

OIA responses must be provided "as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which the request is received". Just about everyone flouts that law. Ministers appear to be using the 20-day period as a deadline and flouting that, which is worse.

The survey will be repeated next year.




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