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New guides – Commercial withholding grounds and consulting third parties

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The Chief Ombudsman has published a new tranche of guidance on the OIA. There are two new guides on the commercial and negotiations withholding grounds and one guide on how the OIA applies to information about public tender processes. All the guides are supported by detailed case studies.

A fourth guide provides information about how to consult third parties before making a decision on an OIA request. This is relevant in a commercial context, but also when information raises privacy and confidentiality concerns. Practical resources include template letters and a work sheet to guide agencies through the process of consulting third parties.

Change in approach—disclosing requester identity during third party consultation

Agencies should note there has been a change in the Ombudsman’s advice about whether to disclose the requester’s identity during consultation with a third party. Previously the Ombudsman said the requester’s identity should usually be disclosed unless there was a good reason not to. The Ombudsman did not differentiate between different types of requester.

However, the Ombudsman has consulted the Privacy Commissioner, who considers that it is not appropriate to volunteer information about the identity of an individual seeking information in their personal capacity without their consent. The Ombudsman’s advice on disclosing requester identities during third party consultation has been updated accordingly.

The new guides are available here:

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