Fact sheet - Guide for applicants when an Agency has initiated a decision that an access application may involve an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources

View the document below or download it here Fact Sheet - Guide for applicants when an Agency has initiated a decision that an access application may involve an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources

This fact sheet is designed to assist citizens where an agency has advised that the scope of the access application is too broad under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act).

An agency may refuse to deal with an access application because it is too big or asks for too many documents, or too much information [1]. However before the agency can take this step there is a requirement under the GIPA Act to contact the applicant to provide notice that the application is too broad, and allow the applicant an opportunity to amend the application.[2]

1. An agency has advised my access application is asking for too much information

When an agency receives your access application and confirms it is valid application, the agency will make an initial assessment as to how much information you are asking for.

If the agency assesses that the scope of your application is too broad they will contact you advising that dealing with your application would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources [3] and that they are considering refusing to deal further with your access application.

At this point the agency has given you notice, but not made a decision on refusing to deal with your access application. This first notice does not provide you with review rights, as these rights attach to the decision by the agency to refuse to deal with the access application.

However before the agency makes a decision to refuse to deal with your application further, the agency will provide you with an opportunity to amend your application.[4]

2. Does the time period for deciding an access application continue when the agency has advised my access application is asking for too much information?

No. When you have received a notice from the agency that your access application is too broad the time period required for deciding your application[5] will stop [6] while you are given an opportunity to amend the application.

3. What does the agency take into account or consider when considering my application may be an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources?

The agency might take into account or consider a number of factors in what may be an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources including: 

  • the terms of your request, is it clear, or is it more global or generally described;
  • the number and size of the documents that may be captured by your request;
  • the resources available to the agency to manage your application;
  • the ability of the agency to perform its other functions; and
  • the time limit in the GIPA Act for making a decision.

These are not the only matters that an agency may consider or take into account when assessing the scope of your application.

4. What should I consider if I am thinking about amending my application?

The agency may make suggestions to you about the potential ways you may amend your application. Options you may wish to consider include:

  • Limiting the timeframe for the information you are seeking, either by date range or number of years.
  • Excluding information that you already have received from the agency or information you have sent to the agency.
  • Confirming that you are not seeking the personal information of others.
  • Providing the Agency with details including file reference numbers.
  • Clarifying the information you are seeking by providing specific details.
5. Can I amend my application to ask for more information?

An application can be amended at any time by you before the agency decides the application.

You must give notice you are amending the application, to the agency before the agency has decided your application.[7]

If you are amending your application to ask for more information, you need the consent of the agency.[8]

6. What if I don't want to amend my application?

Even when you may not want to amend your application it is suggested that you talk to the agency to discuss this.

If you then decide that you do not wish to amend or narrow your request for information you should advise the agency that you are confirming your original request.

The agency may then make a decision to refuse to deal with your access application on the grounds that to do so would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the agency’s resources. The agency will provide you with a written notice of their decision. 

7. Will the agency provide me with reasons in its notice of decision that it is refusing to deal with my access application?

Yes. The agency is required in its notice of decision to refuse to deal with an access application to give reasons for the refusal.[9]

8. Am I able to have my application fee refunded?

No, if the agency has refused to deal with your access application you are not entitled to the refund of the application fee because of an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources.[10]

9. Can I seek a review if the agency refuses my application as it would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of resources?

Yes, if the agency has decided to refuse to deal with your access application because dealing with it would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the agency’s resources.[11] The agency has made a reviewable decision.[12]

For more information

Contact the Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC):

Freecall:            1800 472 679

Email:               ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au

Website:           www.ipc.nsw.gov.au

[i]

 

[1] Section 60(1)(a) GIPA Act

[2] Section 60(4) GIPA Act

[3] Section 60(1)(a) GIPA Act

[4] Section 60(4) GIPA Act

[5] Section 57 GIPA Act

[6] Section 60(4) GIPA Act

[7] Section 49(1) GIPA Act

[8] Section 49(2) GIPA Act

[9] Section 60(5) GIPA Act

[10] Section 60(6) GIPA Act

[11] Section 60(1)(a) GIPA Act

[12] Section 80 (c) GIPA Act; IPC Fact Sheet: Your review right sunder the GIPA Act

 

[i]The IPC acknowledges the materials published by the Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland in the production of this fact sheet.