Media release

OIA complaints rise in six months

Issue date:

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has released the latest Official Information Act and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act complaints data.

The biannual data covers complaints about both Acts for the period 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021.

The figures show the Chief Ombudsman received 722 complaints about Official Information Act (OIA) decisions during this period.  This was up 8 per cent on the 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020 period during which 667 complaints were received.

The Chief Ombudsman also received 183 complaints about Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) responses in the first half of this year. This was up 30 per cent on the previous half when 141 complaints were received.

Complaints about refusals to provide information, either in full or in part, made up more than half of complaints (55 per cent) about OIA responses between 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021.

They also made up nearly half (49 per cent) of complaints about LGOIMA responses in the same period.

Over the 2020-2021 year, 1389 complaints about OIA decisions were received (up 5 per cent on 2019-2020). Over the same period, 324 complaints about LGOIMA decisions were received (down 8 per cent on the previous year).

Refusals in full or in part for OIAs were up 6 per cent to 746. Refusals in full or in part for LGOIMAs were down 2 per cent to 165.

Mr Boshier says there may be a number of reasons why information requests are refused and requesters were doing the right thing by complaining to the Chief Ombudsman if they were unhappy with the response.

“However, it is useful for both requesters and agencies to be aware of their obligations under both the OIA and LGOIMA. The Acts support democratic, open and transparent central and local government. But there are occasions, detailed in the Acts, when information cannot and should not be released.

“My office is happy to provide advice to requesters and agencies,” Mr Boshier says.

More guidance is available here.

Captions provide information that can help users find, navigate, and understand tables.
Complaints received Received Individual Media Other[1]    
LGOIMA 183 149 20 14    
OIA 722 485 138 99    
Received – reasons  Delay in decision Refusal in full Refusal in part Incomplete / inadequate response Extension Other[3]
LGOIMA 36 52 37 26 7 25
OIA 150 224 176 49 54 69
Complaints completed Completed Individual Media Other[2]    
LGOIMA 168 124 27 17    
OIA 596 410 99 87    

[1] This includes all city, district and regional councils, as well as council controlled organisations, community boards, domain boards, public reserves boards and licensing trusts among others. See Schedules 1 & 2 LGOIMA for more details.

[2] For the LGOIMA, this comprises special interest groups and companies, associations, and incorporated societies.

For the OIA, this comprises departments, government organisations, or local authorities; companies, associations, incorporated societies; political party research units; special interest groups; trade unions; researchers; Members of Parliament; and review agencies (eg: HDC, IPCA).

[3] For the LGOIMA, this comprises decisions not made as soon as practicable, charge, manner or form of release, delay in releasing information, refusal - personal information about body corporate, Privacy Act request, extension, and other.

For the OIA, it comprises Privacy Act requests, charges, delay in releasing information, decisions not made as soon as reasonably practicable, refusal - statement of reasons, refusal – internal rules and guidelines, refusal - personal information about body corporate, manner or form of release, and other.

About the data

The data released by the Ombudsman concerns both OIA and LGOIMA complaints received and completed from 1 January to 30 June 2021. It includes information on the number of complaints received by Minister or agency, the nature of the complaint and type of complainant (media, private individual, etc). For the complaints completed, the data also includes the outcome of the complaint.

The data does not enable a direct comparison among agencies, as complaints data on its own does not give the full picture. The number of complaints received by the Ombudsman may be a very small proportion of the total number of OIA or LGOIMA requests received by an agency.

See the Ombudsman’s complaints data here.

FAQs on Official information complaint data publications can be found here.

At the same time as the Ombudsman publishes complaints and outcomes data, Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission (formerly the State Services Commission) publishes its data on OIA requests received by agencies and their response times. This data can be viewed here.

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