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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How goes Victorian FOI Commissioner ?

Hard to know almost six months after the Freedom of Information Commissioner opened for business on 1 December.

There is nothing on the website about what has happened since in terms of reviews and complaints received and their resolution. The Commissioner has 30 days to conduct a review (super quick by any standard) unless the applicant agrees to an extended period.

Budget documents published in early May help a little.

Budget Paper 3 includes the Departmental performance statement for the Department of Justice (pdf) (page 199) with $3.5 million allocated for the Freedom of Information Commissioner in 2013-14, and these (surprising) output measures:   
                                   2012-13 Expected Outcome          2013-14

Reviews completed                 155                                       400
Complaints completed             150                                         96            
Timelines met                          85%                                     100%

But how it's all working out in practice for agencies and applicants is unknown at this distance at least. Comments informed by experience most welcome.

An unusual feature of the Victorian system (Part 1B) is that the Minister (Attorney General) may develop professional standards for the conduct of agencies in performing functions and the administration and operation of the FOI act. Where issued, an agency must comply. All quiet on that potential new front as well.
(This was my take in December 2011 on the legislation establishing the commissioner's  office.)

The portfolio statement (page 189) lists outputs for the separate Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner, allocated $2.3 million in 2013-14 compared to an expected current year final spend of $2.5 million.

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