Chapter 1: Introduction

The process of this review

In 2009 the Law Commission received a reference to review the OIA. As work proceeded it became clear that the official information provisions of LGOIMA must necessarily be included in the scope of this review. The provisions of the two Acts and the issues arising from them are virtually identical.

In December 2009 the Law Commission released a survey on the operation of the OIA and the LGOIMA. The survey sought the views both of officials who respond to requests under the two Acts and of people who make requests under the Acts. It was sent to all agencies that are covered by the OIA and the LGOIMA, as well as to media organisations and other key interest groups, and was also available on the Law Commission’s public consultation website. The survey asked a series of questions about various aspects of the official information statutes, with the aim of identifying key issues and concerns. More than 130 responses were received, over 90 per cent of them from organisations that respond to official information requests.

Informed by the responses to this survey we engaged in our own research and consulted with a wide range of bodies, and produced an issues paper, The Public’s Right to Know, which was published in September 2010. In that paper we examined a large number of questions and took a tentative position on many of them. We sought submissions from the public, most of them from central and local government agencies but a number from the media, academics and members of the public. Based on those submissions, further research, and further consultations, we have prepared this report which offers our final recommendations for reform.