2021/22 GIPA Act Report tabled in Parliament

The NSW Information Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) CEO and Open Data Advocate, Ms Elizabeth Tydd, yesterday released the twelfth annual Report on the Operation of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act): 2021/22, which has now been tabled in Parliament.

The Report provides a comprehensive assessment of the operation of the right to information legislation in NSW and examines the performance of over 250 public sector agencies. It provides important guidance to policymakers and agency heads and promotes greater transparency for the NSW community.

The Report notes:

  • The number of applications received in 2021/22 is the highest recorded in over a decade of reporting. The number of applications for information received by agencies increased by 6% in 2021/22, with 23,789 valid applications received compared with 22,349 in the previous financial year. This suggests that the number of applications has stabilised somewhat following the significant increase reported in 2020/21 (30%), while continuing to grow at a rate consistent with previous years prior to 2020/21.
  • Notably, the percentage of applications made by members of the public remains at a record high of 83%, similar to the 82% recorded in the previous year, which outstrips any other category of applicant. Outcomes for legally represented members of the public comprise 44% of all outcomes.
  • The underlying driver of the increase in applications relates to applications for partly personal information and partly other information where there was an increase in outcomes by 23% (from 3,607 in 2020/21 to 4,451 in 2021/22). This continues the trend observed in previous years, resulting in a 197% increase between 2018/19 and 2021/22.
  • Consistent with previous years, the Government sector continued to account for the great majority (19,250 or 81%) of valid applications; the number of applications increased moderately by 8% from 17,870 in 2020/21 to 19,250 in 2021/22.
  • Reviews by the Information Commissioner continue to represent the most accessed review right, with applications for review by the Information Commissioner representing 40% of all reviews conducted. This data demonstrates the continued dominance of this independent review avenue.
  • The balance between decisions upheld and decisions overturned on internal and external review has changed this year, with a moderate increase in decisions upheld, from 43% in 2020/21 to 56% in 2021/22 This change in balance is also reflected in the significant decline in reviews by the Information Commissioner that recommended that agencies reconsider their decisions, from 64% reported in 2020/21 to 47% in 2021/22.
  • This year, like previous years, compliance by Government departments with their requirements to meet their five additional open access requirements continues to remain low. In 2019/20 and 2020/21, the low compliance rate was drawn to the attention of each Cluster Secretary highlighting the pro-integrity purpose of these specific additional open access requirements and their low levels of compliance. Result for this year indicate some improvement, however the low rates for full compliance remain a significant concern. In 2021/22:
    • 11% (one department) fully met and 89% (eight departments) only partially met the requirement in relation to major assets and acquisitions. This is a significant increase from the 22% that partially met requirements in 2020/21.
    • 22% (two departments) fully met and 67% (six departments) only partially met the requirement in relation to both the total number and the total value of properties the department disposed of during the previous financial year, with this being a significant increase on the 33% that partially met requirements in 2020/21.
    • 33% (three departments) had the department’s guarantee of service. This is an increase from 22% (two departments) in 2020/21.

Read more in the IPC’s Media Release: NSW Information Commissioner report reveals an unprecedented increase in applications for government information.