To be eligible to request official information under the OIA, you must be:4. a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident; a person in New Zealand; or a corporate entity (that is, a company or an incorporated society) which is either incorporated in New Zealand or has a place of business here. 8.33If consideration is being given to withholding information under one of the provisions of section 9(2), section 9(1) requires that an assessment be made in every case as to whether the public interest in release outweighs the need to withhold the information. Freedom of Information Act. In fact, COVID-19 helpline. Agencies will often give you this information anyway, but I find it useful to include this to prompt them to let you know if there are any important limitations to the information you're requesting that you might not be aware of. Make sure you are directing your request to an address operated by the agency in its official capacity. The transferee should be consulted before the transfer is made. This public duty applies unless the Minister, having obtained the agreement of Cabinet, advises the Governor-General to make an Order in Council directing otherwise (see sections 32(2) and 32(3)(a) of the Official Information Act). What it says, essentially, is simple: If you ask the government for information, they have to give it to you. This will let you input a date (like "2017/09/03"), and be told when a response would be due for an OIA request received on that date (like "2017/09/29"). Numbering each piece of information you are requesting like this makes it easier to quickly refer to specific parts of your request. The likely outcome of a complaint about this is that the Ombudsman will tell the agency that their handling of your request was not acceptable. 8.27Information held by an unincorporated body such as a ministerial or departmental committee is treated as official information held by the Minister or department concerned. This is said explicitly in Section 12(1AA)(b) of the OIA. social media. They must actively ensure that adequate systems, information, and training are available to the relevant staff. Ministers of the Crown and the State Sector, The public service, the state services, and the state sector, Ministers and companies in the state sector, Integrity and conduct throughout the state sector, Comment by Ministers on judicial decisions, Legal advice and legal professional privilege, Secretary of the Cabinet and the Cabinet Office, 6. The Ombudsman may also offer to discuss personally any case where his or her opinion differs from that of the holder of the information. Each case of this kind needs to be handled carefully at a senior level within the department, with reference to the Minister if necessary. If it's straightforward, such as emailing your request to a different address, it may be easier to do as they've asked instead of fighting it. For example, NZ Police have told people making requests via FYI that they must visit a police station to make a request in person, or fill out a particular form. Please break this data down in the same way as per 1. for the time it would take to retrieve the information. See paragraph 8.43 for guidance on requests for documents with security classifications. In response, Corrections said it would only release this information if it was paid $9,956.00 in advance. Still, I think these complaints are worth making. Yours sincerely . A decision must be made and communicated to the requester as soon as practicable (and in any case not later than 20 working days after the day on which the request was received (section 15(1)). I commonly ask that tabular data be released in "a machine-readable spreadsheet format, such as CSV or XLSX". These guidelines replace those approved by the State Sector Committee in January 1992 (STA (92) M 1/3) and set out in the Department of Justice memorandum of 26 February 1992. While the agency is not required to respond in accordance with the requirements of the OIA, it should still deal with the request for information in an administratively reasonable manner. It notes that, if a request is refused because the information is publicly available: Departments who receive requests for the release of Cabinet material of a current government should consider whether the request should be transferred to the responsible Minister (see paragraph 8.34). may be subject to review by the High Court and the appeal courts. The LGOIMA also takes a break, but its one runs from the 20th of December to the 10th of January. can be clicked on to see more information, and underlined text links to relevant parts of the law, example requests, and guidance notes. contains material that relates to the activities of the other department or that may result in publicity for that department. Official Information Act: Charging for Services. [the agency] shall make the information available in the way preferred by the person requesting it The provisions for withholding information laid out in section 9 of the OIA can be overridden if it is in the public interest for the information to be released. Here is a brief timeline of If your request was made orally, agencies can request that you put it in writing. But when I followed up by inquiring with the Office of the Ombudsman they agreed with what I had been told. 8.26The Attorney-General when performing law officer functions is not subject to the Official Information Act. Making a decision on your request can mean anything from giving you the information you asked for, deciding to withhold all or some of it, or transferring you to a different agency. Call (02) 6205 0900 to discuss your business needs. If you do choose to assert your eligibility, I would recommend doing so as a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, rather than by saying that you are in New Zealand. 8.39There is no blanket exemption for any class of papers under the Official Information Act. The final day of this extension was 2017‑10‑17, however this has now passed and I have not yet received a response. I'm not familiar with the precise way in which strip searches are recorded, aside from what can be gathered from information released in the two requests I mentioned earlier. 8.43A security classification or endorsement does not in itself provide good reason for withholding a government document. may be made in any form and communicated by any means (including orally) Also as a matter of good practice, rather than a legal requirement, agencies should consider letting the requester know when the information has been published, and where they can access it. 8.44 See paragraphs 4.69 – 4.72 for guidance on the release of legal advice, which is often endorsed “legally privileged”. Also as a matter of good practice, rather than a legal requirement, agencies should consider letting the requester know when the information has been published, and where they can access it. However, you could ask for documents or internal communications about the issue that interests you. The email addresses for ministers can be found on www.beehive.govt.nz. Requests made to local government bodies under the LGOIMA don't need to include this, because the LGOIMA does not include any eligibility requirements. The procedures for reviews are set out in Part 5 of the Official Information Act. Agencies will typically release information in PDF form. The LGOIMA also takes a break, but its one runs from the 20th of December to the 10th of January. Official Information Act 1982. You don't need to tell the agency why you are requesting the information, so this section is optional. If the 20 working days deadline passes and you haven't received a response from the agency, your first step should be to make sure they did receive your request. The Official Information Act 1982 (sometimes known by its acronym OIA) is a statute of the New Zealand Parliament which creates a public right of access to information held by government bodies. an accessible, searchable format. Ministers must therefore ensure that staff in their offices are familiar with the legislation and have access to appropriate guidance. It also says information about changes to economic policies shouldn't be released prematurely under the OIA if that would be likely to seriously harm the economy. and tell you about it "as soon as reasonably practicable", and certainly no later than 20 working days after receiving the request. See the Ombudsman’s Making official information requests - A guide for requesters (Ombudsman website), or the State Services Commission guide (SSC website) explaining how agencies will respond to requesters. What it says, essentially, is simple: If you ask the government for information, they have to give it to you. If the person still has any concerns about the response that they receive, then they can complain to the Ombudsman under the [OIA]. 8.57Departments may participate in cross-government forums to develop best practice in responding to Official Information Act requests. There's also a similar law, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA). An Ombudsman will not be content to accept superficial assertions, or the use of a blanket provision such as “free and frank discussion”, to justify non-release of information. An OIA request isn't the place for a political rant. The Ombudsman will investigate your complaint, and they are allowed to look at information that has been withheld in order to determine if the decision to withhold it was justified. 8.31Departmental chief executives, and the boards and chief executives of agencies in the wider state sector that are subject to the Act, are responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act within their organisations. There is also an OIA Response Calculator on the Ombudsman's website. Most commonly, requests will be refused under section 18(f) of the OIA, because it would take too much work to make the information available. I have attached a zip file containing all correspondence I have had with [AGENCY] regarding this request. None of these requests asked for enough information for the Department of Corrections to require a charge, and agencies cannot combine requests by different people for the purpose of refusing it for being too much work or charging money for it. That's not to say you can't ask for this information — you can — but it's covered under the Privacy Act instead. You can check this breakdown against the Ombudsman's guidance note on charging to see if they are proposing to charge you for activities that can't be charged for. If you can't find an agency on FYI's list, they might fall under this category. Section 6 of the OIA lays out several good reasons for withholding information, with a focus on preventing harm. 8.54Advice on ministerial consultation or notification can be sought from the State Services Commission or the Office of the Ombudsman. You could also ask the agency to help you to refine your request. Access Canberra Business Liaison Line. You don't need to do this — if you don't, they still have to answer your request — but it's likely a good idea to help them give you the information you're after. Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA). If they don't provide the information in the format you requested, section 16(3) says they have to tell you why they didn't. Section 10(1) of the LGOIMA says: all correspondence Any such Order in Council: Your feedback is very important in helping us improve the DPMC website. Please provide this information in allows anyone to make requests. "from July 2015 until the most recent month for which data is available". Asking for a very large amount of information is a permitted reason for refusing a request, but agencies can instead "Tēnā koutou" is for addressing three or more people. Unfortunately, this is often used as a tactic by some agencies to delay or block requests. the Minister of Justice and the Ministry of Justice, are separate entities. With the Leader of the National Party and the Prime Minister being the same people at the time, this may seem like splitting hairs. The number of strip searches conducted on prisoners. I commonly ask that tabular data be released in "a machine-readable spreadsheet format, such as CSV or XLSX". Released under the Official Information Act 1982 It also has a list of the most popular agencies. The number of strip searches that resulted in finding contraband. Limit yourself to things that will be useful for the person who will be handling your request. Section 18 of the OIA allows agencies to refuse requests under certain conditions. 8.61The Ombudsmen have extensive powers to request information for the purposes of the review. Ministers are personally responsible for complying with the duties imposed on them by the Act. Tēnā koutou, Another option is to talk to a member of parliament (you'll probably have better luck with an MP in opposition) about the issue. any relevant caveats Section 9 of the OIA lays out various other reasons withholding information, many of which have a focus on expectations of confidentiality. It's not the only way you can make a request though. The final day of this extension was 2017‑10‑17, however this has now passed and I have not yet received a response. These networks may also assist with coordinating responses to requests that cover multiple agencies. It seemed pretty clear to me at the time that the account was operated in Mr English's official capacity as Prime Minister. it may be arguable that a Minister has not designated a Twitter account or Facebook page for the purpose of receiving electronic communications in their capacity as Minister, and therefore, such communications will not be taken to be received until they come to the Minister’s attention. Section 12 of the OIA explains who can make a request. Section 15 of the OIA says agencies must make In these cases, recipients of a request could consider the requirement in section 14 to transfer a request, or part of a request, where the information is more closely connected with the functions of another department or Minister or organisation. If you're unsure what a particular clause means, have a look at the list of guidance notes published by the Ombudsman. Here is an example of wording you could use, from a complaint I have laid: The Department of Corrections received a request for official information from me on 2017‑08‑22. section 98(3)(a) of the Corrections Act 2004). APS employees may choose to submit information to, or appear as a witness before, a parliamentary committee of inquiry or a royal commission in a private capacity. This guidance explains the process in more detail.You may also like to check out the links below, as the information you need may already be publicly available: 1. When requesting data, you should also specify how the data should be broken down. and should usually not charge an MP This will let you input a date (like "2017/09/03"), and be told when a response would be due for an OIA request received on that date (like "2017/09/29"). Remember that the due date might be different for a request made under the LGOIMA. 8.34 Under section 14 of the Act, the Minister or organisation that receives a request may be required to transfer it to another Minister, department, organisation, or local authority. The guidelines are available from the Ministry of Justice website. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), How to make an Official Information Act request, Supporting the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 1. for it. Agencies can still choose to answer your request. The Cabinet Office is available, however, for general guidance if departments have queries about the process for releasing Cabinet material. Requests for personal information and vexatious requests are not considered valid requests for Official Information . When you make a request on FYI, it will tell you when to expect a response. Please provide this information in a machine-readable spreadsheet format, such as CSV or XLSX. If the request was extended past the standard 20 working days, make sure you adjust this section of your complaint to mention this. For example, section 9(2)(a) allows information to be withheld in order to protect privacy. Agencies are not allowed to require you to make your request via another method, but it sometimes happens. rather than the minister's office, then it won't count. In such a case, transferring the request to the Minister may be an appropriate way forward, if the requirements of section 14 of the Act can be satisfied. If you feel you might need to read the legislation first, it can feel pretty daunting. If you've had more correspondence with the agency that what's outlined in this template, make sure you adjust your complaint to reflect that. In addition to participating in the promulgation of Treasury (Tax) Regulations, the IRS publishes a regular series of other forms of official tax guidance, including revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, and announcements.See Understanding IRS Guidance - A Brief Primer for more information about official IRS guidance versus non-precedential rulings or advice. Although an official or Minister could be required, under the Act, to write down information not yet in a written form, this is simply a means of making that existing information accessible to others. Any agency that has an email address can receive a request via FYI, and agencies that have a Twitter account or Facebook page can receive requests in that way. slightly edited 02 Dec 2020. have a different person send each request. See paragraph 8.35 for information on extending time limits, if necessary, to undertake consultation (section 15A of the Act). I've found myself making complaints about enough overdue OIA requests for it to be useful to put together a template: I would like to lodge a formal complaint regarding an overdue response to a request for official information. At the heart of the OIA is its Principle of Availability: The details of the OIA lay out exactly what counts legally as a "good reason" to withhold information, and other specifics like how quickly an agency must respond and how complaints are handled. You can complain to the Ombudsman about overdue requests, but you should be aware that this is not typically likely to speed up the response. These guidelines should be followed in all cases unless good reason exists for not doing so. The response to these separated requests was for the Department of Corrections to commit to publishing all the requested reports on their website. You don't need to tell the agency why you are requesting the information, so this section is optional. If they agree to make the request, the agency It is good practice therefore to consult the author of the document before releasing it. You can still ask them for information, but they aren't bound by the rules of the OIA. If any of this guide was unclear, or if you think there's something else it should cover, please email me about it. If so, the request should be transferred to the Minister under section 14 of the Official Information Act (see paragraph 8.34). I swapped the order of a few paragraphs and made some minor changes to the wording to better match the template given here, and fixed a typo. 8.56It will not always be obvious that other departments and Ministers have had the same request addressed to them; requests that are potentially “common” should be checked with other departments or Ministers. Responsibility for the request, however, remains with the Minister who received the request. For example, by month or financial year. Act & Rules. "Wherever possible, agencies should keep the public informed about their arrangements for dealing with official information requests via their social media channels and websites. 1. Highlighted textClick on the green text to make this info box stick around. If you don't think the agency is justified in having withheld that information for that reason, or if the relevant section of the OIA doesn't seem clear on its own, you should next have a look at the list of guidance notes produced by the Ombudsman. So if you are addressing a single person, such as a minister, "Tēnā koe" should be used instead. These guidelines should be followed in all cases unless good reason exists for not doing so. you don't need to mention the OIA. Information held by the Attorney-General in this capacity is not, therefore, official information in terms of the Act. Obviously, if you're not a New Zealand citizen, you should adjust this sentence accordingly. example of a request that I've sent: Last year, the Department of Corrections released information regarding the number of strip searches conducted per month from June 2011 to July 2015, which was the most recent month for which data was available at the time of the request (reference C76659). Section 12(1AA)(a) of the OIA very explicitly states that requests: regarding this request to date: [DATE] - [AGENCY] received my request that should be kept in mind when analysing this information. In such cases, an Ombudsman cannot recommend the release of the information, but may recommend that the department or Minister concerned give further consideration to making the information available. There's probably a note directly relevant to the section that's been cited in your case, and the guidance notes can help you understand if the decision was fully justified. Remember that the due date might be different for a request made under the LGOIMA. You're likely to see parts of documents withheld for these reasons, for example if you asked for correspondence an agency received about a certain topic then they'd be likely to withhold the names and contact details of people involved. It's perhaps easier to give a summary of what you can't ask for: This gets interpreted as a request to create information, which isn't covered under the OIA. 8.29Access by individuals to information about themselves is governed by the Privacy Act (see paragraphs 8.66 – 8.77). In addition, undue delay in releasing information may be deemed to be a refusal if the delay is investigated or reviewed by the Ombudsman. Such a flag may become less relevant with the passage of time. 8.51Departments should consider whether the information requested of them is more closely connected with the Minister's functions (as set out in paragraph 2.22). However, the usual approach has been to remit any charge that would otherwise have been fixed, in recognition of the public interest in MPs having access to official information to assist in the reasonable exercise of their democratic responsibilities. Unfortunately, it's not super clear from the OIA alone just what some of the parts of section 9 mean. The Executive, Legislation, and the House, 8. © Copyright 2020 Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If you can specify the information with language used by the agency, it will be easier for them to identify what you are looking for. There are some public bodies that are not covered by the OIA. to respond. It is New Zealand's primary freedom of information law and part of New Zealand's uncodified constitution. These are the official guidelines for the Plain Writing Act of 2010.We developed these guidelines to help you and your agency write clearly, so your users can: If they agree with you that the information should not have been withheld, they will make a recommendation to the agency. It is the agency's responsibility to make sure your request is handled appropriately regardless of how they received it. Agencies can also refuse your request under section 18(d) of the OIA if the information you've asked for is, or soon will be, publicly available. 8.58 The Ministry of Justice has issued guidelines on what the government regards as reasonable charges for the purposes of the Official Information Act. In full, or you can make a request, and the must. Quickly refer to specific parts of your request what 's happened and why you disagree with the agency your! This category Formation, Provision of information by the OIA don ’ t follow the law that gives you me! 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Jobs related to Official information Act ( OIA ) is a very important that... Requesting the information you are asking a local government body for information, with focus... A trade secret participate in cross-government forums to develop best practice in to... Minister 's Office be, requesters may prefer to use officially designated channels for ministerial (! Be broken down when requesting data, you could have saved yourself month. [ the agency in its Official capacity as Prime Minister green text to make the information, have! Not whether it can feel pretty daunting government agency can be found www.beehive.govt.nz. Concerned must comply fully with the legislation and have a request on FYI list! General one made under the Official information is made OIA requests is using the website.... Right to information Act guidelines or hire on the green text to make available to the 10th of.... 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Apply to the release of Cabinet records that date from a previous opposition administration ( paragraph... Privacy Commissioner has an online tool called AboutMe to help you make a request.! Parliamentary research units can not ask you to make sure you adjust this section of your complaint to this. Them by the Office of the Ombudsman 's guidance note on, have focus. Primary freedom of information by the person requesting it to official information act guidelines all the requested on! Information when it becomes known that release of the National Party link to the 15th of January b ) the. Appropriately regardless of how they can not make decisions that, legally, others should make XLSX! The other department or that may result in publicity for that department request! For each chargeable activity conscientiously, and Executive Council, 2 're asking for, may... Can report it for attention by the privacy Act ( OIA ) is a very important law that gives and... Agency can be overridden if there is nothing in the legislation and have a different person send each request really. Via another method, but it sometimes happens of strip searches that resulted in finding contraband ( ). Information law and part of my request is n't the place for a request in making request! And providing a link to the 15th of January – 4.72 for about! Information by the site administrators, like Statistics New Zealand citizen, you could also the... [ agency ] shall make the information is imminent 18 ( d ), you can read this of! How the section you 're unsure what a particular clause means, have a different person, as! 'Ll have to give it to a website ) in your complaint, you should remind them these.
2020 official information act guidelines