Failure by Minister to respond to three OIA requests within the statutory timeframe
The Chief Ombudsman dealt with three separate complaints in the second half of 2022 concerning delay by the Minister for Māori Development (the Minister) in responding to requests for official information under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).
Section 15(1) of the OIA requires that decisions on requests for official information are made and communicated ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ and no later than 20 working days after the request is received.
The Ombudsman’s approach to delay complaints highlights the importance of compliance with the statutory timeframes.
On 7 June 2022, the Minister received an OIA request for copies of relevant documents pertaining to ministerial exemptions under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 for several financial entities.
On 29 June 2022, the requester emailed the Minister about the lack of response to his request. The requester sent one further email to the Minister on 8 July 2022 on the same subject. On 11 July 2022, the requester complained to the Ombudsman.
On 30 May 2022, Te Puni Kōkiri received an OIA request for information about an appointment to the technical working group on the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People. On 10 June 2022, the request was transferred to the Minister’s office. On 11 July 2022, an extension to the maximum time limit for making a decision and communicating it to the requester was made until 22 August 2022.
On 13 September 2022, the requester complained to the Ombudsman that they had not received a response to the request.
On 27 September, a decision on part of the request was made and communicated outside the extended statutory timeframe of 22 August 2022. (The decision covered the relevant documents but did not include emails within scope of the request.)
On 18 July 2022, the Minister received an OIA request for information relating to the 2018 Māori Media Sector Shift Review.
On 26 September 2022, the requester complained to the Ombudsman that a response had not been received.