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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NSW disclosure logs update

The NSW Government Information (Public Access) Act requires each agency to publish on its website as open access information a disclosure log that records access applications that resulted in provision of access to information that may be of interest to other members of the public. Unless publication in this way would be contrary to the public interest.

A quick and far from comprehensive survey last November, five months after the publication requirement commenced, showed many NSW agencies at that stage had posted little or nothing on their disclosure logs. I then had people telling me I had no idea about the lack of resources and their other start up woes, messages received with some but not a lot of sympathy. In this second year of operation Information Commissioner O'Donnell is to take a look at this area of compliance according to the latest OIC news.

In the meantime a recent scan of a sample of agency websites shows things have changed in some instances. The experience confirms NSW lacks the uniformity and ease of access to disclosure logs achieved across federal agencies through adoption of the Australian Information Commissioner's logos scheme on many federal agency home pages.

While this is no competition based on numbers, congratulations to the Department of  Education and Training on the score of being up to date, although a quibble that all information can only be accessed by email request and nothing is posted online. I'd include Police for a commendation as well except you need investigation qualifications to find the log on their website, and if you want any of the released information you have to to fill in and lodge a form. Hardly leading edge.

As to reasons for what amount to nil returns over many months in some other agencies I'm all ears, acknowledging there can be valid lawful reasons for having nothing to post.

State government agencies
Education and Training-over 30 entries, the latest last month.
NSW Police-more difficult than others to find, but when you do NSW POLICE FORCE - DISCLOSURE LOG 2011 (pdf)-15 entries in 2011( in a separate file a few last year) the latest in May.
Health-17 entries nothing since November 2010.
Corrective Services-six entries the latest in April. 
Premier and Cabinet-five entries the latest in March.
Trade and Investment-seven entries in October and November 2010 but none since.  No entries in the separate log for the related Regional Infrastructure and Services.
Family and Community Services-Housing-one entry, nothing since January 2010.
Family  and Community Services-Community Services-three entries the latest in April.
Family and Community Services- Aboriginal Affairs- the same message as last time-"Follow the links" but none are provided.

These two agencies received no applications for or released no information of general interest, or the public interest favours non publication or they're behind in complying?
Justice and Attorney General- The Attorney General's Division-no entries (maybe a technical problem-for a minisecond it looks as if there are entries but the pdf contains none.)
Workcover Authority-no entries- still "available soon" the same message posted in November.

A very limited look at two other sectors for the first time shows:
Local Government
City of Sydney-don't appear to have one.
Newcastle City Council-four entries nothing since December 2010
Wollongong City Council-five entries nothing since November 2010
University of Sydney-three entries in 2011 the latest in March.
University of NSW-two entries nothing since November 2010.

Any keen types out there who could save me the trouble of doing something similar for Commonwealth, Queensland and Tasmanian agencies that have disclosure log type obligations under applicable laws? Please?

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