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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NSW Ombudsman annual report

The NSW Ombudsman's Annual Report released today was accompanied by this media release in which Bruce Barbour repeated the call for more open and transparent government, and for a change in attitude within government.

Some high- or low- points on Freedom of Information from the report:

Applications to agencies appear to be down by about 10% over the period 2005-6 -2006-7.

Since 2002–2003, the percentage of FOI applications reported to have been approved in full in agency annual reports has decreased by approximately 18%.

Over the past four reporting periods, the total number of applications refused by the NSW Police Force based on exemption clauses has increased by 43% (from 12% of refusals to 55%).

In 2007-2008 the Ombudsman received over 220 formal complaints about FOI applications.Three agencies- Education and Training(13) Health(30) and Police(53)- made it into double figures. In many cases, the agency had not made an actual determination to refuse to release the documents, rather, it had made a ‘deemed refusal’.The Ombudsman finalised over 190 FOI complaints and achieved 171 positive outcomes in these matters.

The number of complaints to the Ombudsman claiming an agency has failed to carry out a proper search for documents has been on the rise as a result of a Court of Appeal decision that the jurisdiction of the ADT does not extend to review of the adequacy of searches undertaken by the agency in response to an FOI application.More are expected.

Primary Industries, Health and the area health services, Police, Corrections, Roads and Traffic Authority, RailCorp and Education feature in case studies in Chapter 10 - Freedom of information.pdf

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