"This year, the Information and Privacy Commission responded to 6,380 calls and received 275,702 website page views. We finalised a total of 898 matters over the year. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) responded to a 60% increase in request for assistance, from 1,696 requests in 2010-11 to 2,712 in 2011-12.. The OPC completed 181 internal reviews, provided 109 advices, and finalised 102 complaints. The Office of the Information Commissioner finalised 280 information access reviews, 5 investigations, and 79 complaints."There are many other activities mentioned in the report although it is thin on the outcomes from all this effort.
Two issues of concern regarding the office, delay and powers, rated a mention:
The two main criticisms the Information Commissioner received during the reporting period were that external reviews take too long and that our recommendations are not enforceable. While positive feedback was received on almost half of our cases, due to the backlog during the year, 15% of applicants were unhappy with the delays they experienced. We have implemented process and staff changes in response to that feedback. The fact that our recommendations are not enforceable is a feature of the right to information model adopted by New South Wales. It differs from its Queensland and Commonwealth counterparts in this respect. A right of review by the ADT exists, but the Information Commissioner can only make recommendations to agencies. This is an issue that will doubtless be considered when the GIIC Act is reviewed in accordance with Section 48 of that Act.With regard to agency performance the report refers to work undertaken in preparing the first report (for 2010-2011) under section 37 of the Government Information (Information Commissioner) Act 2009, a report on the operation of the GIPA Act generally, across all agencies.
That report is yet to be published.
The Information Commissioner comments that a clear baseline against which to assess overall public sector performance under GIPA is still to be developed, but the picture from available data
shows greater requests for Information Commissioner reviews than were predicted when the office was being set up and the function transferred from the NSW Ombudsman. It also shows a high level of awareness of the legislation and its impact on agency information management practices as well as the vital importance of a culture in agencies of openness and service to the public.The foundations of the GIPA act "appear well understood by agencies, and members of the public are exercising their enforceable right to access government information."
From these comments in the Directions for 2012-13 section the commissioner seems aware of performance reporting shortcomings:
"In the year ahead, I look forward to being able to provide better data to the Parliament and to agencies on their performance measured against the GIPA Act. Now that the new administrative arrangements across the public sector have been bedded down, it is important to focus on the optimal reporting regime that will allow the Parliament and the people of New South Wales to assess the benefits of the GIPA legislation. As a core outcome of GIPA, we should expect to see simpler and more streamlined access to government-held information....In the meantime the following extracts suggest significant weaknesses and problems still to be addressed in information access in many/some NSW agencies:
What success looks like needs to be broader than checklist compliance with a set of requirements under the legislation; it needs to reflect an improved experience of responsive service that can then lead to greater public confidence in the processes of government. It will be seen in better communication with the public, informed by and in response to public feedback. As part of my champion role, my office will focus on improving advice and guidance via our website and e-learning tools about the GIPA Act. As part of my mandate to receive complaints and requests for reviews under the Act, we will continue to focus on
improving our timeliness and responsiveness in line with our service targets.