OIA Study

My bedtime reading is an excellent 51 page study of how the Official Information Act is working by Steven Price. Steven has included qualitative (interviews with journalists and officials) and quantitative research (last 10 OIA requests per agency).

The interviews with journalists show how badly sections of the Government treat the OIA.

The breakdown of requesters is interesting. It is:

Political (MPs and staff) 23%
Private Individuals 20%
Media 19%
Academic 10%
Lobby Groups 10%
Lawyers 9%
Companies 9%

Average processing time was 13 working days. Around 12% exceeded the 20 day deadline. Four agencies had an *average* response time of greater than the maximum 20 days. 40% of agencies had at least one overdue request.

In terms of refusals 41% of requests were declined or had information partially with-held. This is much higher than what one would expect in my opinion and Price documents many examples of what appears to be incorrect refusals.

In summary Price finds that overall the OIA is proving beneficial but that:

More than twenty years after the passage of the OIA, agencies have little excuse for these sorts of mistakes. Taken together, they seriously compromise the OIA’s ability to fulfil its constitutional role of promoting accountability, participation and good government.

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