Ombudsman’s approach to delay complaints
The Chief Ombudsman has decided to make changes to his handling of delay complaints alleging breaches by public sector agencies of the maximum statutory timeframe obligations set out in the Official Information Act (OIA) and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA). He considers these laws to be cornerstones of New Zealand’s democracy.
The Chief Ombudsman’s intention is to implement an approach to delay complaints that:
- deters agencies and ministers from breaching their statutory timeliness obligations through the implementation of a swift, consistent and robust response to complaints;
- seeks to balance the Chief Ombudsman’s focus on the early resolution of complaints and incentivising agencies and ministers to acknowledge and resolve delays expeditiously with the Chief Ombudsman’s statutory function to formally investigate and review complaints about a failure to meet statutory timeliness obligations;
- is streamlined and efficient and attempts to minimise the expenditure of significant resource, while supporting the Chief Ombudsman’s strategic goals including improved OIA and LGOIMA compliance across the public sector;
- encourages Ministers and agencies to manage the processing and decision-making required to respond to requests for access to official information in accordance with the law, including using relevant mechanisms in the OIA and LGOIMA when appropriate to ensure they meet their statutory deadlines;
- aligns with the Chief Ombudsman’s other initiatives, including the publication of OIA and LGOIMA complaints data (including the reporting of sustained delay complaints), which seeks to drive better agency performance and compliance with the OIA and LGOIMA through greater levels of transparency.
The Chief Ombudsman will implement this revised approach to delay complaints received by this Office from 1 July 2022.