Request for stock take report on the Crime Reduction Strategy
Report by external consultant not advice tendered by Ministers or officials—s 9(2)(f)(iv) did not apply
A requester sought information relating to the review of the Crime Reduction Strategy, and complained to the Ombudsman when a ‘stock take report’ on the strategy was withheld under section 9(2)(f)(iv).
The Chief Ombudsman advised the Minister of Justice of his provisional opinion that section 9(2)(f)(iv) did not apply to the report. The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and authored by an external consultant. It contained a significant amount of factual information. One section of the report set out future options. Those options may have been adopted by officials and later tendered to the Government, but the report itself could not be described as advice which had been tendered in terms of section 9(2)(f)(iv). Furthermore, disclosure of the report would not pre-empt any future advice from officials as officials may not necessarily advise that one of the options proposed by the author be adopted by the Government.
The Chief Ombudsman noted that the purpose of section 9(2)(f)(iv) is ‘not to protect from disclosure the whole of any policy process from disclosure prior to ministerial decisions being taken’. This would be inconsistent with the purpose of the OIA to enable effective public participation in the making and administration of laws and policies.
The Minister of Justice revised his decision to withhold the report after considering the Chief Ombudsman’s provisional opinion, and the complaint was resolved.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.