Request for Treasury reports
Consultation and decision making not relevant for the purposes of establishing ‘substantial collation or research’
The Minister of Finance refused a request for 20 Treasury reports on the grounds of ‘substantial collation or research’ (section 18(f) of the OIA), and the requester complained to the Ombudsman.
Through informal enquiries, the Chief Ombudsman ascertained that it was not difficult to find and bring together the 20 documents. The issue was the amount of time that would be required to consult the 4–5 other agencies involved in developing the documents on the decision whether or not to release them. The Chief Ombudsman explained that consultation and decision making did not amount to ‘collation’ or ‘research’ under section 18(f) of the OIA.
The Minister revised his initial refusal, and instead made a 3 month extension of the maximum timeframe for making a decision on the request, to enable necessary consultations to take place. The Chief Ombudsman suggested that the requester consider contacting the Minister’s staff if she wished to prioritise certain of the documents she had requested. He discontinued his investigation, on the basis that further investigation was unnecessary.
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.