Government contractors and the GIPA Act
The Government Information Public Access Act 2009 (GIPA Act) applies to New South Wales (NSW) public sector agencies. It does not directly apply to organisations in the private sector. However, anyone can apply to access government information under the GIPA Act, including private companies and non-government organisations.
Who is covered by the law?
The GIPA Act covers five sectors: NSW Government sector, state-owned corporations, NSW Ministers and their staff, universities and local councils.
The GIPA Act has implications for private sector and not-for-profit organisations that have contracts with NSW public sector agencies.
If a private sector organisation is contracted to provide a public service, the organisation will need to make certain information available to that agency.
If the public requests access to information regarding that service, then it will be up to the agency to decide whether it can be released by applying the public interest test.
A contract between a NSW public sector agency and a private sector organisation should give the agency an immediate right of access to the following information:
- Information that relates directly to the performance of the services provided by the organisation
- Information collected by the organisation from members of the public to who it provides, or offers to provide services
- Information received by the organisation from the agency to enable it to provide the services.
Generally public sector agencies are not required to include certain information from private sector organisations in government contract registers. For example:
- Commercial-in-confidence provisions of a contract
- Details of unsuccessful tenders
- Matters that may affect public safety or security
- Copies of any information in relation to a contract that would have an overriding public interest against its disclosure.
If an agency does not include a copy of a contract or includes only some of the information, it must include in the register:
- reasons why the contract or provisions have not been included;
- a statement if it intends to provide that information at a later date, and if so, when; and
- a general description of the types of provisions that have not been included in the contract.
For contracts more than, or expected to reach the value of $5 million, copies of the contract must be included in the register.
The GIPA Act also requires NSW public sector agencies to keep a register of government contracts with private sector organisations that are valued at $150,000 (including GST) or more. This includes:
- leases for real property
- contracts to transfer real property
- contracts to provide specific goods or services such as information technology services but not employment contracts
- contracts to undertake a specific project such as construction, infrastructure or property development projects.