You may have seen recent stories that some officials recommended the Official Information Act (OIA) be suspended while the country was responding to Covid-19. Thankfully the Ombudsman rejected this view. It is in times of rapid law and policy making that the OIA is the most important.
The Official Information Act encapsulates the premise that all official information in New Zealand is available to the public unless there is good reason for it to be withheld. There are similar Acts in other Commonwealth countries.
It is far from a perfect instrument to getting information out of the government but it is an important tool for holding the government to account and ensuring they are transparent in their dealings. And can be very useful to gathering context and information for a public issue campaign.
Rarely does an OIA request alone form the basis for further action, or a claim against government. Public officials are now very aware that their work could be subject to a request so the chances of ‘gotcha’ result from an OIA is rare.
If you want to maximise the value you get from making a request, download our “How to” guide. And we are always happy to advise how you can use the OIA to your advantage. Get in touch with Senior Consultant, Brigitte Morten to learn more.