New Zealand Law Society - 2017 election cycle boosted number of OIA complaints, says Boshier

2017 election cycle boosted number of OIA complaints, says Boshier

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Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released his latest Official Information Act data, which shows a rise in the number of complaints received.

The number of OIA complaints received in the first six months of 2018 increased from 673 to 697 when compared to the last reporting period from July to December 2017.

Mr Boshier says the increase may be partly attributed to the electoral cycle. “Traditionally complaints ease off as an election approaches and then pick up again once a new government is formed.”

Most of these complaints were in response to agencies refusing or delaying their responses to requests. A total of 466 complaints came from individuals; more than three times as many as received from media organisations. In terms of outcomes, the Office of the Ombudsman completed 722 OIA complaints in the first six months of 2018.

Around 27% of the complaints were resolved without needing to form a final opinion.

“I am very pleased to report that we were able to resolve a good number through our early resolution process despite the often contentious nature of OIA complaints,” says Mr Boshier.

“My office was also successful in achieving remedies for 249 complaints.”

The remedies range from agencies agreeing to reconsider their decisions, apologise or provide financial remedies.

“I have now published two years’ worth of data and overall there has been a significant rise in the number of complaints received.”

The number of complaints has increased by 30% when comparing the current reporting period with the period between July and December 2016 when the office received 538 complaints.

“This may reflect increasing confidence in the ability of my office to deal with issues. We have managed to clear a backlog of complaints and we are very much focussed on more timely investigations and resolutions,” says Mr Boshier.

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