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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Impact of cutbacks at OAIC: Open and Shut interested in your story

With the functions of the three commissioners that make up the Office of Australian Information Commissioner now in the hands of a single acting commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim's 'in folder' will be heavily loaded with important matters. 

None more so than files concerning non delegable functions that the commissioner only can exercise such as freedom of information review decisions, and determinations on privacy complaints not resolved by conciliation.

The latest published FOI review decision is on a matter lodged with the OAIC in April 2014. The latest published privacy determination is on an application lodged in August 2013.

How many applications remain in the queue and how long they have been there is not known. 

The latest Quarterly Statistics about Freedom of Information and Privacy complaints and reviews published by the Office are for the period April - June 2014, before the cutbacks on funding announced as the government launched its initiative to abolish the office through legislation that is still to pass.

More FOI review applications are likely to be waved off in the direction of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where the commissioner "is satisfied that the interests of the administration of this Act make it desirable." Quite a few with legitimate grievances but not eligible for a concession will balk at taking the matter further given the AAT application fee is $861.In the absence of a determination, privacy complainants appear to have nowhere else to go.

If you have had an FOI or privacy matter before the OAIC and the resource constraints and contraction of commissioners from three to two in December and to one since 19 July seem to have added to your woes, Open and Shut is interested in hearing your story.  

May not be able to do more than listen but email me:

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