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Chief Ombudsman will take stronger approach to Delay Deemed Refusal complaints

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Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is making changes to how he manages the Delay Deemed Refusal (DDR) complaints.

These are complaints about the alleged failure by public sector agencies to meet the maximum statutory timeframe obligations set out in the Official Information Act (OIA), the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA).

Mr Boshier said that responding to requests for access to official information is the core business for public sector and Ministers and he is becoming increasingly concerned about the delays requesters are experiencing.

His current approach is to engage with the public sector agencies or Ministers at the centre of a DDR complaint and formally uphold a complaint, only if they fail to take up opportunities to resolve the matter.

From 1 July 2022, Mr Boshier will take a stronger approach if Ministers and agencies are not taking necessary steps to ensure they meet their statutory timeframe obligations for making decisions and communicating them to requesters.

The OIA and LGOIMA provide a number of mechanisms to help Ministers and agencies manage the processing and decision-making required to respond to requesters.

“It’s a complete failure if a request is not responded to within the time limits provided in these Acts and this failure is unacceptable, “ said Mr Boshier.

He intends to make formal findings and recommendations in these cases and report them to the relevant Ministers, local authorities and Parliament.

Guide to the new approach is now available on the website.

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