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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Timely external review a problem in the west

The Western Australian Information Commissioner's Annual Report 2009-2010 naturally enough has a lot more on the subject. As previously indicated in his review report   the Commissioner says complaints received in the office are unlikely to be resolved in less than six months, in contrast with the one month timeframe envisaged in the act. On current projections the Commissioner says "it is unlikely that this will have improved by next year, despite the various steps taken by my office to improve efficiency and output."

The Office received 125 complaints (and 19 other applications under the act) during the year. The break up suggests a rather different complainant profile than elsewhere: 60 from individual citizens, 21 from members of parliament, eight from non profits and just one from the media.

The number of access applications made to agencies under the act has steadily increased, from 3,323 at the end of the first full financial year of operation (1994/95) to 12,994 in 2009-2010. Western Australian Police topped the list with 2,198 - an increase of 19.0% from last year- with the next highest, two public hospitals (in total 2700), and another 4,060 received by various other health service providers (hospitals, health services and the Department of Health). (Western Australia doesn't have an information privacy act.)

The Commisioner's report includes the following performance indicators. From memory they have been standard for years. As the roles of our information commissioners vary to some extent, so too will performance measures to some degree, but the subject  and comparative performance warrants discussion and debate
Satisfaction of parties with review processes: 84% (down from 91% last year but consistent with earlier years), based on responses to a question in the Post Review Questionnaire sent to the parties in every matter. No results are published for two other questions mentioned in the report: "Do you consider that you were kept adequately informed regarding the progress of your case?" "Was the officer assigned to your case professional in his or her dealings with you?"

Satisfaction of agencies with advice and guidance provided. Score 98%, the same as previous years, also based on responses to a survey.

Extent to which complaints resolved by conciliation (this being one of the aims of the review scheme): 56%, down on previous years but explained by a decision by the Commissioner in 2009 to limit the time spent pursuing conciliation before moving to formal determination.
formal determination of complaints.

Average cost of reviews finalised: $7426.

Average cost of advisory services delivered per recipient: $176

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