The lack of performance information has been noted here previously, as recently as January.
Prompted by a report in The Australian at the weekend Commission rules on casino documents on a review by the commissioner of a refusal of access decision by the premier's office that is critical of the original decision and other matters, I went looking for the review report.
Not only is it not there but no review reports have been published since May 2012. The latest investigation report is dated June 2011.
These reports are an important part of the armoury with the potential to keep ministers and agencies on their toes and up to the mark.
The most recent account of how the IPC is traveling came when the information and privacy commissioners appeared before the NSW parliamentary Committee on the Ombudsman, the Police Integrity Commission and the Crime Commission in February. The questioning was hardly forensic and the session only lasted an hour. But the Information Commissioner generally presented a positive picture both of IPC performance, and agency compliance and co-operation in implementing the Government Information (Public Access) Act. While a squeeze on resources at the IPC and in agencies was noted, not a lot was made of this. (Committee members showed interest in two specific issues, the privacy threats from the use of drones and access to convict records.)
Anecdotally - and that's all there is in the absence of performance information about efficiency and effectiveness at the IPC and what agencies are up to - it's a very mixed bag. There are long delays waiting for IPC review decisions.The extent to which agencies abide by IPC conclusions which are recommendatory only is unknown. There has been no report published on agency performance.
One experienced journalist tells me using GIPA has been disheartening, to the point of giving it away as an investigative tool; another, that things vary enormously from agency to agency, with individuals often making the difference between outcomes that are understandable at least, and continuation of the old refuse access and die in the ditch approach.
Some exchanges between the commissioner and committee members taken from the transcript are below.
With a disgruntled citizen apparently sending the commissioner 40,000 emails there may have been plenty of distractions from the IPC's main game.
The Hon. ADAM SEARLE: