Search This Blog

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NSW Ombudsman wraps up on FOI

The 2009-2010 NSW Ombudsman Annual Report  marks the end of an era as the Ombudsman's long standing role in dealing with freedom of information (FOI) complaints and reviews passed to the Information Commissioner from 1 July with establishment of that office and the commencement of the GIPA Act. The Ombudsman reports (FOI at p 104) continuation of a downward trend in complaints: 145 formal complaints about the handling of FOI applications by agencies and local councils compared to 186 last year and 225 the year before.
"As predicted last year, we think this trend can be attributed to greater openness by agencies following memoranda by the Premier encouraging proactive release of information by government agencies. Another reason is the consistent decrease in complaints about the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) due to it having substantially reduced its backlog in processing FOI applications."
Particular issues covered in the report include an indication that pay and performance information of senior university executives will be required to be included in annual reports; excessive agency caution in disclosing business information,; overuse of legal privilege; and special mention of several investigations concerning complaints against the NSW Police Force. Journalists appear to have been a significant source of complaints.

To repeat what I said a year ago, thanks to Bruce Barbour, his predecessors in the position and longtime FOI experts in the office particularly Deputy Ombudsman Chris Wheeler, and Wayne Kosh, for holding the open government banner high even through often very dark times when other government leaders were missing in action.

No comments:

Post a Comment