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3.2: - Understand the use of Freedom of Information

Objective and description:

Australia will better measure and improve our understanding of the public’s use of rights under freedom of information laws. 

We will do this by working with states and territories to develop uniform metrics on public use of freedom of information access rights, and by collecting and publishing this data.

Status Quo:

The right of citizens to access government held information promotes transparency of government actions and decision making.  

The Commonwealth, states and territories collect data and produce statistics about applications to access government information in each jurisdiction. For example, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner currently releases statistics on access requests under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 through data.gov.au. Such information is important for measuring the effectiveness of freedom of information laws, including for benchmarking our performance internationally.

However, the data collected is not uniform across jurisdictions, making it difficult to compare and analyse how freedom of information rights are used across the country. It is also varies in its consistency with international measurements of open government, including the World Justice Project’s Open Government Index.

The development of consistent metrics aligned with the Open Government Index would assist in building a more complete picture of freedom of information rights in Australia and could help governments improve processing of information access requests. Metrics could include the type of applicant, application rates per capita, release rates, review rates and refusal rates.  .

Ambition:

To facilitate an assessment of the effectiveness of Australia’s right to information laws across jurisdictions, and raise awareness about the public’s rights to access government information. This will improve understanding of the public’s utilisation of access rights, government processes and practices, and allow for international benchmarking, including against the World Justice Project’s Open Government Index.

Relevance:

This commitment will advance the OGP values of access to information and public accountability by:

  • increasing awareness of public access rights to government information;

  • enabling comparison of freedom of information access rights across jurisdictions and internationally; and

  • improving freedom of information access practices and efficiency of processing access to information requests.

OGP Grand Challenge: 

Increasing Public Integrity

Timeframes:

September  2016 – December 2017

Lead agency:

Australian Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen (enquiries@oaic.gov.au)

Other actors involved: 

  • Government - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

  • Non-government - N/A

Milestones:

  • Information Commissioners and Ombudsman to agree and publish metrics on information access rights, aligned with the Open Government Index.

    • September 2016 - December 2016

  • Undertake pilot for data collection and validation for the 2014/15 financial year.

    • January 2017 - June 2017

  • Data collection and validation for the 2015/16 financial year.

    • July 2017 - November 2017

  • Publicly release dataset on 2015/16 metrics.

    • December 2017- December 2017 (subject to jurisdictions reporting)