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3.2 - Understand the use of Freedom of Information

We will work with states and territories to collect and publish uniform data on public use of freedom of information access rights in Australia.

[Freedom of information is used generally to cover legislated public access right to information schemes across all jurisdictions. For example, in New South Wales the relevant legislation is the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW).]

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

Status Quo
The Commonwealth, states and territories already 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.

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. The development of consistent metrics will 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 raise awareness about the public’s rights to access government information under freedom of information laws and enable quantitative analysis of data across jurisdictions. This will improve understanding of utilisation of access rights, government processes and practices, and better align with established international metrics including the World Justice Project 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

Other actors involved
Government: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Non-government: N/A

Milestones

  1. Agree and publish metrics on information access rights.
    • September - December 2016
  2. Undertake pilot for data collection and validation for the 2014/15 financial year.
    • January - June 2017
  3. Data collection and validation for the 2015/16 financial year.
    • July - November 2017
  4. Publicly release dataset on 2015/16 metrics.
    • December 2017