Reform official information laws and refocus the Open Data and Information Programme to publish social, environmental, and budget expenditure data
The IRM researcher recommends the following actions when amending the OIA:
Align OIA eligibility for requests with eligibility of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (i.e. removing the residence and citizenship requirements to make a request);
Apply the OIA to certain parliamentary information, excluding Members of Parliament’s constituency work;
Add proactive release to the OIA protection against certain actions (§48);
Amend the OIA withholding grounds (§6) to make them subject to a public interest
Extend the scope so the OIA applies directly to private organisations providing
public services under contract; and
Provide the Ombudsman with powers to specify what kinds of information
government agencies should proactively publish.
The Open Government Information and Data Programme makes public government-held information for people, communities, and businesses to reuse. While this and the first action plan have addressed open data access and practices, the IRM researcher recommends that the next action plan also include commitments on open data and focus on identified user demand. This should include regular open format publishing of government’s open and aggregated social (including housing) data, as anticipated in the previous IRM researcher’s recommendation three and go some way towards addressing the previous Government’s decision to stop publishing The Social Report. Reporting on environmental outcomes should also continue, and reporting on actual budget expenditure and public procurement contracts should be expanded, as suggested during consultation on the first and second action plans. As these datasets are assessed annually in the Open Data Barometer (ODB), this activity may also improve the government’s low ODB implementation score (currently only 58%).
Why the contribution is important
Commitments on access to information and open data practices have been a focus of New Zealand national action plans. While New Zealand traditionally has had high Global Right to Information (RTI) ratings, Section II of this report clearly demonstrates how the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) has been criticized for allowing government agencies to delay information requests, for requiring fees and for excluding some parliamentary information. Due to these criticisms, reforming information laws is a top priority for the new Government.
by NAP2_IRM on April 19, 2018 at 11:52AM