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Chapter 1: Activity under the FOI Act

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (the FOI Act) confers upon any person the legal right to access documents held by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies.

The Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010 was passed by Parliament in May 2010. That Act was a response to proposals by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Administrative Review Council to reform the FOI Act.[1] The amendments took effect from 1 November 2010, with the exception of the information publication scheme and disclosure log requirements, which commenced on 1 May 2011.

This report has been prepared using data collected from Commonwealth ministers and agencies subject to the FOI Act.

Agencies are required to provide, among other details, information about:

  • the number of requests made
  • the number of decisions granting, partially granting or refusing access and the number and outcome of applications for internal review under s 54
  • the number and outcome of requests to amend personal records under s 48; and
  • fees and charges collected.[2]

Detailed statistical information is provided in the appendices to this report.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) assumed responsibility, from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, for the web-based system for the electronic lodgement of statistical information by agencies from 1 November 2010. The OAIC began a redevelopment of the web-based statistical collection system during the reporting period. This redevelopment will allow the collection of information about agencies' use of exemptions and the practical refusal mechanism, and staff resources and other costs associated with compliance with information publication scheme provisions.

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Requests received

Types of requests reported

Agencies are encouraged to process routine requests for information outside the FOI Act. This is consistent with the broader objectives of the FOI Act and s 3A which makes it clear that the FOI Act is not intended as the sole means of access to documents held by government agencies. The FOI Act only requires that agencies provide access to documents in response to requests that meet the requirements of s 15 of the FOI Act. Accordingly, the figures reported for requests do not take account of applications that did not satisfy these requirements, or requests processed by agencies outside the FOI Act.

Number of requests received

Appendix A provides details of requests received by ministers and agencies in 2010-11. Appendix M shows the number of FOI requests received from 2001-02 to 2010-11.

Between 1 December 1982 (the date of commencement of the FOI Act) and 30 June 2011, Commonwealth agencies received a total of 906,639 requests. Chart 1.1 shows the total number of requests for each year since the commencement of the Act in 1982. (The FOI Act operated for only seven months of the 1982-83 year.)

No long text description available for this chart. Please contact us if you require one.

Table 1.1 provides a comparison of requests received in the last four years.

Table 1.1 Total FOI requests received: 2007 to 2011
2007 to 20082008 to 20092009 to 20102010 to 2011
29,019 27,561 21,587 23,605

Although there has been a general decline in the number of FOI requests received by agencies since a peak in 2003-04, the number of requests received in 2010-11 was 9.3% higher than in 2009-10. A breakdown of the types of requests shows a significant increase in the number of non-personal requests received, as discussed below.

Since the commencement of the FOI reforms in November 2010, agencies have reported anecdotally that the number of requests for documents and information, both within and outside of the FOI Act, has increased. This may be due in part to greater awareness of the right of access under the FOI Act and of information rights generally following the commencement of the FOI reforms and the establishment of the OAIC.

Breakdown of statistics: personal information and other information

Since 2000-01, agencies have reported separately the number of FOI access requests received for documents containing personal information and for documents containing ‘other' information. A request for personal information means a request for documents that contain information about a person who can be identified. A request for ‘other' information means a request for all other documents, such as documents concerning policy development and government decision-making. This breakdown in the number of requests received by agencies in 2010-11 is shown in Appendix A. Similarly, Appendix M shows the same breakdown for 2001-02 to 2010-11.

Chart 1.2 shows the total number of personal and other requests received by agencies in 2010-11. Consistent with the results from previous years, the large majority of requests (19,504 or 82.6%) are for documents containing personal information. The percentage of such requests as a total of all requests received has decreased from 87.2% in 2009-10. Some of this decrease can be attributed to system and process improvements in some larger agencies that have led to the release of personal information outside of the FOI Act.

Requests for personal information: 19,504 (82.6%). Requests for other information: 4,101 (17.4%).

Details of requests received

Centrelink, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) continue to receive the majority of requests (71.0%). Commonly, requests to these agencies are from customers or clients seeking access to documents containing their own personal information. Chart 1.3 shows these agencies' share of the total number of requests received by all agencies in 2010-11.

Immigration and citizenship: 34.1%. Veterans' Affairs: 20.9%. Centrelink: 16%. Other: 28.9%

The top five agencies in terms of number of FOI requests remained the same as those in 2009-10: DIAC, DVA, Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Department of Human Services. Centrelink received 3,780 requests in 2010-11: 743 (16.4%) fewer than in the previous year, and 6,495 (63.2%) fewer than in the year before that. This decline in request numbers can be at least partly attributed to Centrelink's continuing policy commitment to providing customers access to their own personal information outside the processes of the FOI Act, where appropriate.

The 20 agencies that received the greatest number of requests in 2010-11 are shown in Table 1.2, together with a comparison with the number of requests received in the previous year. While the total number of requests received in 2010-11 rose by 9.3%, the number of requests received by some individual agencies has risen significantly more. The most significant increase has been experienced by those agencies that generally receive requests for non-personal information. The number of these other requests rose by 43.4% across the top 20 agencies, and by 48.4% for all agencies, compared to last year.

The following departments reported significant increases in the number of requests for other information compared to the previous year:

  • Attorney-General's Department (346% increase)
  • Department of the Treasury (179% increase)
  • Department of Foreign Affairs (178% increase)
  • Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (160% increase)
  • Australian Federal Police (148% increase)
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission (116% increase)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (100% increase)
  • Department of Finance and Deregulation (91% increase)
  • Department of Defence (67% increase)

The four agencies in the top 20, that were not in the top 20 last year (Treasury, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Department of Finance and Deregulation, and the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency), moved into this list due to the significant increase each department experienced in the number of other requests made in 2010-11.

Two possible reasons for this significant increase in requests for other (non-personal) information are: the abolition of application fees (from 1 November 2010), and a greater awareness of access rights due to the introduction of the FOI reforms.

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FOI access requests determined 2010-11

The total number of requests received by agencies in 2010-11 was as follows (previous year figures are in parentheses):

  • on hand at the beginning of the year: 1,874 (2,806)[3]
  • received: 23,605 (21,587)[4]
  • requiring determination: 25,479 (24,393)[5]
  • determined: 20,187 (19,583)[6]
  • withdrawn: 1,573 (2,235)[7]
  • transferred: 861 (695)[8]
  • total finalised: 22,621 (22,513)[9]
  • on hand at the end of the year: 2,858 (1,880)[10]

There was a 52.0% increase in the number of requests on hand at the end of 2010-11 compared to the previous year. This may be attributable to the significant increase in the number of FOI requests for non-personal information. These generally have a greater level of complexity and require a higher level of analysis and, consequently, more time to process.

The number of requests transferred to other agencies has increased over the last two years: there was a 28.0% increase in 2009-10 and a further 23.9% increase in 2010-11. This trend may result from the increase in non-personal requests and the greater complexity of those requests, which means that applicants may not address requests initially to the agencies that hold the documents requested. Another contributing factor may be that a higher proportion of documents are produced by joint activities of agencies.

Table 1.2 Top 20 agencies: access requests received
Agency2009 to 20102010 to 2011Change
RankPersonalOtherTotal%RankPersonalOtherTotal%TotalRank
Department of Immigration and Citizenship 1 6,641 280 6,921 32.5 1 7,783 274 8,057 34.1 +1,136 -
Department of Veterans' Affairs 2 5,178 13 5,191 24.4 2 4,916 21 4,937 20.9 -254 -
Centrelink 3 4,507 16 4,523 21.2 3 3,744 36 3,780 16 -743 -
Australian Taxation Office 4 164 631 795 3.7 4 275 577 852 3.6 +57 -
Department of Human Services 5 489 11 500 2.3 5 536 6 542 2.3 +42 -
Migration Review Tribunal 6 342 0 342 1.6 6 373 0 373 1.6 +31 -
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 9 223 67 290 1.4 7 231 139 370 1.6 +80 +2
Department of Defence 12 112 95 207 1.0 8 203 159 362 1.5 +155 +4
Refugee Review Tribunal 7 331 3 334 1.6 9 358 1 359 1.5 +25 -2
Australian Federal Police 10 219 31 250 1.2 10 267 77 344 1.5 +94 -
Trade Marks Office 8 0 322 322 1.5 11 0 302 302 1.3 -20 -3
Department of Health and Ageing 11 1 219 220 1.0 12 1 266 267 1.1 +47 -1
Attorney-General's Department 19 26 41 67 0.3 13 50 183 233 1.0 +166 +6
Australian Securities and Investments Commission 14 16 79 95 0.4 14 23 171 194 0.8 +99 -
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 13 78 37 115 0.5 15 67 103 170 0.7 +55 -2
Department of the Treasury [*] - - - - - 16 0 148 148 0.6 - -
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 18 5 66 71 0.3 17 7 132 139 0.6 +68 +1
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service [*] - - - - - 18 37 78 115 0.5 - -
Department of Finance and Deregulation [*] - - - - - 19 1 101 102 0.4 - -
Department of Climate Change & Energy Efficiency [*] - - - - - 20 5 92 97 0.4 - -
Top 20   18547[^] 1998[^] 20545[^] 95.2   18,877 2,866 21,743 92.1 N/A  
Remaining agencies   276 766 1,042 4.8   627 1,235 1,862 7.9 N/A  
Total   18,823 2,764 21,587 100   19,504 4,101 23,605 100 N/A  

* Denotes an agency not listed in the top 20 agencies in 2009-10.

^ Shows the total for 2009-10 top 20 agencies (i.e. includes totals for four agencies missing from the top 20 for 2010-11).

The increase in the number of transferred requests has the potential to lead to delays in processing FOI requests if transferring agencies fail to quickly action transfers and do not give receiving agencies sufficient time to process requests.

Table 1.3 shows the results of FOI access decision making in 2010-11 compared with the previous year, broken up by requests for personal information and for other information.

Table 1.3 FOI access requests determined
Decision2009 to 20102010 to 2011
PersonalOtherTotal%PersonalOtherTotal%
Granted in full 11,592 898 12,490 63.8% 11,460 839 12,299 60.9%
Granted in part 4,490 1,130 5,620 28.7% 4,866 1,127 5,993 29.7%
Refused 1,059 414 1,473 7.5% 1,205 690 1,895 9.4%
Total 17,141 2,442 19,583 100.0% 17,531 2,656 20,187 100.0%

In the last three reporting years there has been a decline in the number of requests granted in full: from 71.0% in 2008-09, to 63.8% in 2009-10, to 60.9% in 2010-11. This pattern applies to requests both for personal and for other information. As agencies release more information outside the FOI process-personal information through other processes, and general information through the Information Publication Scheme-it is likely that a higher proportion of FOI requests will be for other (non-personal) information. Processing FOI requests for this other information is generally more complex, and more likely to result in access being refused or granted only in part. If this is the case, the decline in the proportion of requests granted in full can be expected to rise.

The figure for requests that are "refused" includes cases where the documents sought do not exist or cannot be found, as well as cases where exemptions are applied. The number of requests granted in full or in part, or refused, for each agency is set out in Appendix B. The statistics in Appendix B are shown for requests for personal information, requests for other information, and in total. Table 1.4 lists the top 20 agencies by the number of FOI decisions that they made.

In 2010-11, 90.6% of access requests were granted in full or in part, down from 92.5% in 2009-10. As the majority of requests across Australian Government agencies are for personal information, this proportion of requests granted in full or in part is expectedly high given the presumption that access must be given to a person's own information.

Table 1.4 Top 20 agencies: requests determined
AgencyGranted in fullGranted in partRefusedTotal
Number%Number%Number%
Department of Immigration and Citizenship 4152 55.3% 2688 35.8% 671 8.9% 7511
Department of Veterans' Affairs 4180 99.0% 26 0.6% 16 0.4% 4222
Centrelink 2263 61.7% 1132 30.9% 273 7.4% 3668
Refugee Review Tribunal 175 68.6% 77 30.2% 3 1.2% 255
Trade Marks Office 170 64.4% 92 34.8% 2 0.8% 264
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 157 60.2% 72 27.6% 32 12.3% 261
Australian Taxation Office 148 25.4% 320 55.0% 114 19.6% 582
Department of Human Services 115 22.3% 333 64.7% 67 13.0% 515
ComSuper 87 95.6% 3 3.3% 1 1.1% 91
Department of Defence 85 33.6% 137 54.2% 31 12.3% 253
Migration Review Tribunal 66 60.0% 41 37.3% 3 2.7% 110
Australian Securities and Investments Commission 53 34.2% 32 20.6% 70 45.2% 155
Australian Federal Police 37 15.0% 161 65.2% 49 19.8% 247
Attorney-General's Department 36 20.8% 45 26.0% 92 53.2% 173
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 34 35.4% 48 50.0% 14 14.6% 96
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 26 25.0% 57 54.8% 21 20.2% 104
Commonwealth Ombudsman 19 25.3% 42 56.0% 14 18.7% 75
Department of Health and Ageing 18 13.6% 71 53.8% 43 32.6% 132
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 16 21.3% 15 20.0% 44 58.7% 75
Department of the Treasury 6 7.2% 54 65.1% 23 27.7% 83
Top 20 11,843 62.8% 5,446 28.9% 1,583 8.4% 18,872
Remaining agencies 456 34.7% 547 41.6% 312 23.7% 1,315
Total 12,299 60.9% 5,993 29.7% 1,895 9.4% 20,187

Time taken to respond to FOI requests

On 1 November 2010, several new legislative provisions came into effect that can result in an extension of the 30 day statutory timeframe for making decisions under the FOI Act. Agencies can now apply to the Information Commissioner for more time to process a request where the request is complex or voluminous (s 15AB) or where access has been deemed to be refused (s 15AC). An agency may also extend the period of time to make a decision by agreement with the applicant (s15AA). These extension provisions acknowledge that there are circumstances when it is appropriate for an agency to take more than 30 days to process a request.

In previous FOI Annual Reports, agency response times were reported against statutory timeframe provisions that predated the 1 November 2010 changes. Appendix C provides full details of agency response times divided into the 4 month period from 1 July 2010 to 31 October 2010 and the 8 month period after the amendments to the FOI Act came into force on 1 November 2010. The headings of each column are also split between the two periods to reflect the criteria used by agencies to provide information for the two periods. The relationship between the headings used in Appendix C for each column are as follows:

New heading
(from 1 November 2010)
Old heading
(before 1 November 2010)

Within applicable statutory time period

0-30 days

Up to 30 days after applicable statutory time period

31-60 days with consultation

31-60 days after applicable statutory time period

31-60 days without consultation

61-90 days after applicable statutory time period

61-90 days

Over 90 days after applicable statutory time period

Over 90 days

The figures for the last eight months of 2010-11 cannot be compared with the figures for the first four months or 2010-11 (and the figures for earlier years), because of the legislative changes in November 2010.

Table 1.5 shows the response times for all agencies for 2009-10 and for the first four months of 2010-11. The bulk of the requests (86.0% in the first four months of 2010-11) were processed within 30 days. The response time was significantly better when dealing with requests for personal information than when dealing with other requests.

Table 1.5 Response times: FOI access requests (1 July 2009 to 31 October 2010)
Response time2009 to 20101 July 2010 to 31 October 2010
PersonalOtherTotal%PersonalOtherTotal%
0 to 30 days 14,379 1,078 15,457 78.9% 5,396  355  5,751 86.0%
31 to 60 days with consultation 241 449 690 3.5%  94 138 232 3.5%
31 to 60 days without consultation 1,575 484 2,059 10.5%  418 65  483 7.2%
61 to 90 days 625 248 873 4.5% 100 35 135 2.0%
Over 90 days 321 183 504 2.6% 46 36 82 1.2%
Total 17,141 2,442 19,583 100.0% 6,054 629 6,683 100.0%

Table 1.6 shows the response times for all agencies from the commencement of the new provisions to the end of the reporting period. Where an agency obtained an extension of time to deal with a request, and resolved the request within that time, the request is recorded as having been determined within the statutory time period.

The bulk of requests (84.2%) were processed within the applicable statutory time period. The response time was significantly better when dealing with requests for personal information than when dealing with other requests.

If a decision is not made on a request within the statutory timeframe (as extended, if applicable) then s 15AC of the FOI Act provides that a decision refusing access is deemed to have been made. Nonetheless, agencies can-and are encouraged to-continue to process a request that has been deemed to have been refused. However, if the applicant seeks Information Commissioner (IC) review of the deemed decision, s 55G provides that the agency can only make a substituted decision that is more favourable to the applicant while the IC review is under way.

Table 1.6 Response times: FIU access requests (1 November 2010 to 30 June 2011)
Response time1 November 2010 to 30 June 2011
PersonalOtherTotal%
Within applicable statutory time period 10,110 1,264 11,374 84.2%
Up to 30 days after the applicable statutory time period 488 345 833 6.2%
31 to 60 days after applicable statutory time period 454 205 659 4.9%
61 to 90 days after applicable statutory time period 172 118 290 2.1%
Over 90 days after applicable statutory time period 253 95 348 2.6%
Total 11,477 2,027 13,504 100.0%

Table 1.7 shows those agencies which had one or more requests that took more than 90 days to determine in the last eight months of the reporting period. Of the seven agencies with more than five requests that took more than 90 days to determine, two (the Department of Human Services and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) had more than 10% of their requests in this category.

Table 1.7 Response times: greater than 90 days (1 November 2010 to 30 June 2011)
AgencyTotal requests determinedGreater than 90 days%
Department of Human Services 425 173 40.7%
Department of Immigration and Citizenship 4946 68 1.4%
Australian Taxation Office 431 32 7.4%
Attorney-General's Department 150 12 8.0%
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 81 12 14.8%
Department of Health and Ageing 101 9 8.9%
Centrelink 2299 9 0.4%
Australian Federal Police 161 5 3.1%
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 58 5 8.6%
Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government 4 3 75.0%
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 24 2 8.3%
Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations 4 2 50.0%
AusAID 10 2 20.0%
Commonwealth Ombudsman 67 2 3.0%
Australian Securities and Investments Commission 115 2 1.7%
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority 29 1 3.4%
Australian Communications and Media Authority 16 1 6.3%
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency 34 1 2.9%
ComSuper 65 1 1.5%
Department of Finance and Deregulation 49 1 2.0%
Department of Infrastructure and Transport 25 1 4.0%
Prime Minister 14 1 7.1%
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities 56 1 1.8%
Australian Prudential Regulation Authority 12 1 8.3%
Department of Veterans' Affairs 2710 1 0.0%

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Amendment of personal records

Section 48 of the FOI Act confers a right to request an agency or Minister to amend a document to which lawful access has been granted, where the applicant claims that information in the document:

  • contains personal information about the applicant
  • is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading
  • has been used, is being used, or is available for use by the agency or Minister for an administrative purpose.

In 2010-11, 3,702 requests for amendment of personal records were received by agencies (none were received by ministers). This is a decrease of 926 requests (20.0%) from the previous year, and 1,330 (26.4%) from the year before that. Only 10 agencies received requests for amendment in 2010-11, and one department (the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) received 3,667 (99.3%) of those requests.

Appendices F, G and H set out full details of agencies' determination of requests for amendment of records. Appendix I gives details of AAT review of amendment decisions.

A total of 3,692 requests for amendment of personal records were determined in 2010-11.  Table 1.8 compares the pattern of decision-making for amendment of personal records for this reporting year with the previous reporting year. In 2010-11, a decision to alter the personal record was made in 64.1% of requests, a decrease of 12.1% on 2009-10.

Time taken to respond to requests for amendment of personal records

As with the criteria for response times for FOI requests, the criteria for response times for requests to amend personal records has changed to reflect the amendments to the FOI Act that commenced on 1 November 2010. Therefore the figures for the last eight months of 2010-11 cannot be directly compared with the figures for the first four months or 2010-11 (and the figures for earlier years).

An agency is required to notify an applicant of a decision on their request to amend personal records as soon as practicable but in any case not later than 30 days after the date the request is received, or a longer period as extended by the amended provisions of the FOI Act. In the 4 month period to 31 October 2010, 1,368 (95.6%) of requests were decided within 30 days and in the 8 month period to 30 June 2011, 2,260 (99.5%) of requests were decided within the statutory time period. Full details of agencies' response times are given in Appendix G.

Table 1.8 Determination of FOI requests for amendment of personal records
Determination2009 to 20102010 to 2011
Number%Number%
Requests granted: alter record 3,577 76.2% 2,367 64.1%
Requests granted: notate record 340 7.2% 487 13.2%
Requests granted: alter and notate record 108 2.3% 2 0.1%
Requests refused 669 14.3% 836 22.6%
Total 4,694 100.0% 3,692 100.0%

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Fees and charges

From 1 November 2010, the FOI Act and the Freedom of Information (Fees and Charges) Regulations (now called the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982) were amended to abolish fees and some charges. FOI charges apply only to the initial access decision under Part III of the Act. There is now no charge for making an application:

  • for access to a document under PartIII
  • for amendment or annotation of a personal record under PartV
  • for internal review of a decision under PartVI
  • for ICreview of a decision under PartVII.

A fee is payable for an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a decision under Part VIIA.

Charges that agencies can impose for processing FOI requests include charges for search and retrieval time, decision-making, retrieving and collating electronic information, preparing transcripts and photocopying. An agency or minister has discretion to impose or not impose a charge, or impose a charge that is lower than the applicable charge under reg 3 of the Charges Regulations. Appendix D sets out full details of fees and charges notified and collected by agencies. (Given the abolition of fees, future FOI Annual Reports will report only on charges.)

Table 1.9 shows the amounts collected by the 14 agencies which together collected 85% of all fees and charges revenue in 2010-11.

Table 1.9 Agencies which together collected 85% of all fees and charges
AgencyNumber of Requests ReceivedTotal Fees Collected
($)
Charges Collected
($)
Total Fees & Charges Collected
($)
Department of Health and Ageing 267 1,660 306,423 308,083
Department of Immigration and Citizenship 8,057 42,510 0 42,510
Department of Defence 362 1,260 18,998 20,258
Australian Taxation Office 852 2,410 16,466 18,876
Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 370 1,244 15,861 17,105
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 47 690 15,862 16,552
Department of the Treasury 148 900 15,367 16,267
Trade Marks Office 302 3,240 12,291 15,531
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency 97 240 11,878 12,118
Department of Finance and Deregulation 102 620 10,346 10,966
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 57 490 10,071 10,561
Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism 40 290 10,077 10,367
Australian Federal Police 344 2,895 6,307 9,202
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service 115 620 8,060 8,680
Subtotal 11,160 59,069 458,007 517,076
Remaining Agencies 12,445 13,167 78,311 91,478
Total 23,605 72,236 536,318 608,554

A total of $72,236 was collected in application fees for all initial applications and internal review applications. This amount represents 11.9% of total FOI revenue for 2010-11. In 2009-10, fees represented 40.9% of total revenue. This reduction is, obviously, due to the abolition of fees from 1 November 2010.

Section 29(1) of the FOI Act provides that an applicant must be given notice in writing when an agency or minister decides under the Charges Regulations that the applicant is liable to pay a charge. The notice must specify that the applicant is liable to pay a charge, the preliminary assessment of the charge and the basis of calculation and the applicant's right to contend that the charge is wrongly assessed or should be reduced or waived. The applicant must within 30 days, or such further period allowed by the agency, agree to pay the charge, dispute the charge or seek a waiver or reduction, or withdraw the FOI request. Where an applicant asks that the charge be reduced or not imposed, the agency must consider the applicant's reasons and may decide to reduce the charge or to not impose it.

Agencies notified a total of $3,207,827 in charges, but exercising their discretion under s 29 of the FOI Act, collected only $536,318 (16.7%) of those charges. Charges were notified in respect of 1,456 requests and the total amount of fees and charges collected was $608,554, an increase of 17.8% on the previous year total of $516,790.

This increase of 17.8% in fees and charges collected contrasts with the increase of 9.3% in FOI requests over the same period. Presumably this reflects an increased complexity in requests for non-personal information which, as discussed above, were a greater proportion of all requests in 2010-11 than in 2009-10.

The total amount of fees and charges collected in 2010-11 represented 1.7% of the total cost of the FOI Act.[11] In 2009-10, fees and charges were 1.9% of the total cost.

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Footnotes

[1] Australian Law Reform Commission and Administrative Review Council, Open Government: A review of the federal Freedom of Information Act 1982, ALRC Report No 77 / ARC Report No 70, 1995.

[2] Australian Government ministers and agencies, and the Norfolk Island administration, are required, by s 93 of the FOI Act and regulation 5 of the Freedom of Information (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1982, to submit statistical returns to the OAIC every quarter.

[3] See "On hand 1 July 2010" in Appendix A. The 1,874 figure reported is less than was reported as on hand at the end of the 2009-10 financial year. This reflects revised figures provided by agencies. This discrepancy in the transition between reporting periods occurs each year.

[4] See "Total requests received" in Appendix A.

[5] The number of requests requiring determination is the sum of requests on hand at the beginning of the year and requests received.

[6] See "Total determined" in Appendix B. The number of requests determined is the sum of requests granted in full, requests granted in part, and requests where access was refused.

[7] See "Withdrawn" in Appendix B.

[8] See "Transferred" in Appendix B.

[9] See "Requests finalised" in Appendix A. The number of requests finalised is the sum of requests determined, withdrawn and transferred-see Appendix B.

[10] See "On hand 30 June 2011" in Appendix A. The number of requests on hand at the end of the year is the number of requests finalised subtracted from the number of requests requiring determination.

[11] See Chapter 3 and Appendices J and K for further information about the total cost of the FOI Act in 2010-11.