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Friday, October 08, 2010

Queensland pioneering on open government measurement

The Queensland Information Commissioner's 2009-2010 Annual Report covers the first year of the operation of the Right to Information and Information Privacy acts. The Office has set a high standard in reporting against its targets, and has a good story to tell.

Of particular interest are the steps being taken to establish data for the measurement of progress towards achievement of the objectives of the RTI scheme through opinion surveys of public service culture and community awareness and attitudes. In addition, 212 significantly large and independent agencies (of the 602 agencies subject to the legislation) are to be part of an electronic audit based on the Office's Self Assessment Tool, that reflects the legislative and best practice compliance obligations set out in the published Performance Standards and Measures. (One reservation about this is the Tool to be completed by each agency runs to 31 pages of questions. More comment about this in another post, hopefully soon.) The surveys and audit are to be repeated in future to assess changes over time.

Queensland with a year's start on other reform jurisdictions is setting the pace in this area. Given the relevance of these pioneering efforts to measurement of performance in other jurisdictions, let's hope we won't have to wait a year until the next annual report to hear more about the surveys, and the results.

As to other matters..

The Office received around 4000 inquiries from agencies and members of the public, and 439 applications for external review, a 60% increase over the average of the previous three FOI years. Health topped the respondents' bill with 78, Police 48, Communities 42, then a gap to Environment and Resource Management with 18, and a long tail of other agencies. In local government, Brisbane City Council was the respondent in 17 matters with Rockhampton next with eight.

The Office resolved 338 matters prior to a decision, including 267 settled informally.  Applicants generally did well in matters that went to formal resolution: of the 35 decisions by the Commissioner, 8 affirmed the agency decision, 15 varied, and 12 set aside the decision.

The median number of calendar days for an external review to be finalised was 37 days. As at 30 June 2010, 4 reviews more than 12 months old were open.

Individual citizens made the bulk of review applications. Journalists were involved in 27, up from two the previous year and eight a couple of years ago. Prisoners initiated 41, companies 37, community and lobby groups eight and politicians five.

71% of applicants who responded to a survey were satisfied overall with the service provided by the Office in 2009–2010. And 98% of agencies agreed the information and assistance from the Office was of a high standard. 

Not much review activity needed from the Office on Information Privacy matters: 13 privacy complaints were received during the year. In 11 cases the Commissioner had no jurisdiction.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:04 am

    One wonders if there's been too much of an eye on the time clock and not enough concern about quality of decision? A quick decision is not necessarily a good decision.