Media Release - NSW Information Commissioner’s report reveals access applications at their highest, with an increase in proactive release by agencies

28 February 2019

The NSW Information Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) CEO and Open Data Advocate, Ms Elizabeth Tydd, today released the eighth annual Report on the Operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act) 2017/18 (‘the Report’), which has now been tabled in Parliament.

The mandated Report under section 37 of the Government Information (Information Commissioner) Act 2009 (GIIC Act), is a comprehensive assessment of the operation of the right to information legislation in New South Wales. It promotes greater transparency for the NSW community by examining the performance of over 220 government agencies and providing important guidance to policy makers and agency heads.

Ms Tydd noted this year’s Report provides positive indicators that tangible progress has been made in achieving the strategic intent of the GIPA Act – to authorise and encourage the proactive release of information to the public.

“In 2017/18, the number of applications received by agencies has continued to increase with a steady upward trend since 2014/15, reflecting the increasing value the community is placing on their right to access government information. This also demonstrates a return to the numbers received in the first year of operation of the GIPA Act when applications were at an all-time high,” said Ms Tydd.

“Of these, applications for ‘personal information’ continue to represent the majority of applications received (55%), while applications for information that is ‘partly personal information and partly other information’ increased significantly by 149%.

“Reviews by the Information Commissioner represent 37% of all reviews conducted, demonstrating the dominance of this independent review avenue.

“The overall information release rate declined slightly from 71% in 2016/17 to 68% in 2017/18 in respect of formal applications. However, it is pleasing to note that in respect of the push pathway ‘authorised proactive release,’ 82% of agencies that conducted a review reported releasing more information publically. This is a significant increase from 75% in 2016/17.

“A priority for the IPC continues to be the publication of guidance on the legislative provisions that support the GIPA Act’s ‘push’ model of information release, including authorised proactive release. Pleasingly, this year’s Report provides positive indicators that progress has been made in this area,” said Ms Tydd.

Three measures that best evidence the appreciable improvement in compliance with the ‘push pathways’ under the GIPA Act include:

  • 75% of agencies reported that they had conducted the review of their program for release of information – up from 63% in 2016/17. This represents an arrest in the four-year decline in agencies conducting annual information release reviews and a revival approximating 2013 levels.
  • 82% of agencies that conducted a review reported releasing more information publically – a significant increase from 75% in 2016/17.
  • Compliance with the mandatory proactive release requirements increased to 83%, compared with 76% in 2016/17.

According to Ms Tydd, these improvements demonstrate the commitment of agencies to proactive release of information through better systems, governance and resourcing.

“In 2017/18, the IPC successfully implemented a strategic, proactive approach to regulation and conducted a number of audits and monitoring of agency compliance. These initiatives provided measurable results and enabled targeted regulatory action to be taken to enhance compliance.

“Overall, the response by agencies to this approach demonstrated a commitment to compliance, together with evidence of the effectiveness of this strategic approach to address extant and emerging compliance risks,” said Ms Tydd.

To schedule an interview with the NSW Information Commissioner, Ms Elizabeth Tydd, or for further information regarding the Report please contact Daniela Marchetta on 0435 961 691 or email ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au

About the NSW Information Commissioner
The NSW Information Commissioner’s statutory role includes promoting public awareness and understanding of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act); providing information, advice, assistance and training to agencies and the public; dealing with complaints about agencies; investigating agencies’ systems, policies and practices; and reporting on compliance with the GIPA Act.

About the Information and Privacy Commission NSW
The Information and Privacy Commission NSW (IPC) is a separate agency. It supports the functions of the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner in respect of privacy and information access laws in NSW. For further information about the IPC visit our website at www.ipc.nsw.gov.au