Appendix A: Recommendations

Chapter 10 – Processing requests

Time limits

R50Section 15(1) of the OIA and section 13(1) of the LGOIMA should retain the standard 20-working day time limit for responding to requests. However, the sections should be amended so that it is explicit that this time limit covers both (i) the agency’s decision about release or withholding; and (ii) the release of any information in response to a request.

R51Acknowledging receipt of official information requests should be encouraged as best practice, rather than introducing a statutory requirement to do so.

R52The maximum extension time in section 15A of the OIA and section 14 of the LGOIMA should continue to be flexible, without introducing a specific time limit.

R53Section 15A of the OIA and section 14 of the LGOIMA should be amended to allow a further extension of the time limit during the initial extension period, for a reasonable period having regard to the circumstances.

R54No provision should be introduced allowing for the extension of statutory timeframes by agreement with the requester; however, extensions by agreement should be encouraged on an informal basis as part of the dialogue between agency and requester.

R55Complexity should not be added as a further ground for extending the 20-working day time limit in section 15A of the OIA and section 14 of the LGOIMA.

R56A new provision in the OIA and LGOIMA should provide the following:

(a)a requester may make an urgent request provided that reasons for urgency are given;

(b)an agency must treat such a request as urgent if it would be reasonably practicable in the circumstances to do so; and

(c)a response to a request treated as urgent should be notified promptly and, where the decision is in favour of release, the information should be provided to the requester as soon as reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Consultation and notification

R57Guidance about inter-agency consultation processes should be reviewed and revised as necessary. This guidance should be an information resource for both agencies and requesters to promote understanding of the processing framework.

R58A new provision in the OIA and the LGOIMA should provide that where reasonably practicable, agencies must notify a third party prior to the release of requested third party information, where the withholding of the information would be justified on the grounds of:

(a)privacy;

(b)confidentiality, disclosure of a trade secret or unreasonable prejudice to commercial or competitive position (in relation to information obtained from a third party); or

(c)in the case of LGOIMA, tikanga Māori;

but the agency considers the need to withhold to be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure.

R59The period for pre-release notification to third parties should be a minimum of five working days.

R60Following pre-release notification to a third party, the agency should have a duty to take into account any submission in favour of withholding made within the five working day time period, before finalising a decision to release the requested third party information.

 

R61Subject to the new statutory pre-release notification requirement, consultation with affected third parties should continue to be encouraged as a matter of best practice. Guidance about third party consultation should be developed, covering both the recommended notification requirement, as well as the nature and objectives of third party consultation more generally.

Transfer of requests

R62Section 14 of the OIA and section 12 of the LGOIMA should be amended to explicitly allow for partial transfers of requests.

R63The time limit for notification provided in section 15A(3) of the OIA and section 14(3) of the LGOIMA should be reduced to 10 working days, where a time limit has been extended to allow a request to be transferred.

Release of information

R64Section 16(2) of the OIA and section 15(2) of the LGOIMA should continue to require the release of information in the form preferred by the requester, subject however to a new condition that the requester’s preference is reasonable in the circumstances, in place of the condition in section 16(2)(a) of the OIA and section 15(2)(a) of the LGOIMA that the requester’s preference not “impair efficient administration”.

R65Section 16 of the OIA and section 15 of the LGOIMA should be updated to include electronic release of information.

R66Requests for metadata and information in backup systems should continue to be dealt with on a case by case basis, and therefore no legislative change is required.

R67Section 18(e) of the OIA and section 17(e) of the LGOIMA should be amended to state that an agency may refuse a request where the information requested does not exist or cannot be found “after taking reasonable steps to locate the information”.

 

R68Guidance should be developed that addresses the interaction of the information management requirements of the Public Records Act 2005 and the official information legislation, including how agencies should deal with requests for metadata and information that is difficult or costly to access.

R69Further work should be undertaken to address the interaction between the official information legislation and the New Zealand Government Open Access Licensing framework, with a view to producing guidance for agencies.

R70Guidance for requesters should be developed to explain common legal restrictions that may apply to the use and re-use of released information, including defamation, copyright, privacy and contempt of court.

Charging

R71A review of charging policy based on the objectives listed at [10.202] should be undertaken in order to establish a charging framework that is cohesive, consistent and principled. The review should include charging policy under the official information legislation, the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government, the New Zealand Data and Information Management Principles and the New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework, and any other relevant government information policy.