26 September 2023

Ombudsman files report on FOI

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The ACT Ombudsman has released his annual report on the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 2016 (FOI Act) outlining his insights on the operation of the Act in 2019-2020 and setting priority activities for 2020-2021.

The Ombudsman, Michael Manthorpe said that under the FOI Act, every member of the public had a right to access information held by the Government, where it was not contrary to public interest for that information to be disclosed.

“This year, all nine ACT Government Directorates provided both mandatory and optional data for our reporting, allowing us to gain a greater understanding of the operation of the FOI Act than in previous years,” Mr Manthorpe said.

“My Office has worked to draft and publish a complete set of six FOI guidelines,” he said.

“These guidelines provide comprehensive, practical guidance on the application of the FOI Act to assist practitioners in the ACT.”

Mr Manthorpe said the guidelines were now notifiable instruments and his Office would review them each year to ensure they remained up to date and relevant for users.

“I would like to thank all of the ACT Directorates and Agencies who contributed to the development of these guidelines,” he said.

He said there was more to be done to ensure the FOI Act contributed to an open and transparent ACT Government, and an engaged and informed ACT community.

The Ombudsman said that in 2020–2021, his Office would work closely with Directorates and Agencies to further improve consistent and timely decision-making, according to the pro-disclosure objectives of the FOI Act.

“We will focus on providing education and information about Open Access requirements, guiding agencies to improve their compliance,” he said.

The Ombudsman’s 22-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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