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Part 15 — Reporting

Archived Document — This document is no longer in use. Read the current FOI guidelines.

Version 1.1, May 2011

15.1 This part deals with:

  • the obligation of agencies and ministers to provide information to the Information Commissioner for inclusion in the Commissioner's annual reports
  • information required in agencies' annual reports for 2010–2011.

OAIC annual report and FOI statistics

15.2 Section 30 of the AIC Act requires the Information Commissioner to prepare an annual report on the OAIC's operations, including a report on FOI matters and privacy matters. This integrated annual report replaces two reports — one on the operation of the FOI Act, prepared by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and one on the Privacy Act, prepared by the former Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Content of OAIC annual report

15.3 The Information Commissioner's annual report is to include information on the review, complaint, monitoring and advice functions of the OAIC in relation to FOI (s 31 of the AIC Act). Specifically, the report is to include information about guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner, applications for IC review, complaints received by the OAIC, and assistance provided to agencies to enable them to comply with the FOI Act (s 31(1)(a), (f), (h) and (i) of the AIC Act).

15.4 The annual report is also to include information about FOI administration in agencies as listed in paragraph 15.7 below (s 31(1)(b), (c), (d) and (e) of the AIC Act). As discussed below at paragraph 15.6, the Information Commissioner relies on agencies to provide this information to the Information Commissioner as required by s 93 of the FOI Act. The Commissioner's annual report is also to include information on the number of applications each year for AAT review of FOI decisions (s 31(1)(g) of the AIC Act).

15.5 The annual report also includes information on the operation of the Privacy Act, covering the handling of complaints about breaches of the Act, investigations of agencies or organisations to ensure compliance with the Act, and advice and other assistance provided to government, agencies and organisations to promote good privacy practice. Unless the Information Commissioner requests otherwise, this part of the report will continue to be prepared with little input required from agencies and there is no obligation to provide information corresponding to s 93 of the FOI Act. The integration of the former Office of the Privacy Commissioner's annual report into the OAIC's annual report does not affect agencies' obligations to complete an entry for the Personal Information Digest each year under the Privacy Act. Further guidance on completing a Personal Information Digest entry may be found at www.oaic.gov.au.

Agencies' and ministers' obligations to provide information

15.6 Section 93 of the FOI Act requires agencies and ministers to provide information and statistics to the Information Commissioner to enable the Commissioner to prepare the FOI aspects of the annual report.

15.7 Each agency and minister must provide the following information for the Information Commissioner's annual report:

  • the number of FOI requests made under s 15 of the FOI Act (s 31(1)(b) of the AIC Act)
  • the number of decisions granting, partially granting or refusing access (s 31(2) of the AIC Act)
  • the number and outcome of requests to amend personal records under s 48 of the FOI Act (s 31(1)(c) of the AIC Act)
  • charges collected for processing FOI requests (s 31(1)(d) of the AIC Act)
  • the number and outcome of applications for internal review under s 54 of the FOI Act (s 31(1)(e) of the AIC Act).

15.8 An agency or minister must also comply with any additional requirements in the regulations regarding the provision of information or the maintenance of records for the purposes of providing the information and statistics to the Information Commissioner (s 93(3) of the FOI Act). At present no additional requirements are prescribed by regulation. However, it has been the practice of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to request additional information from agencies. The OAIC will require the same additional information from agencies, and will consider whether other information will be required in the future.

15.9 Agencies and ministers must provide statistical reports on a quarterly and annual basis. Information is entered directly into a secure database through a password-protected web portal. The OAIC has provided agencies with detailed information on how to provide FOI statistics and what is required through GovDex at www.govdex.gov.au.

15.10 Amendments to the Freedom of Information (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1982, which commenced on 1 November 2010, cover the transitional arrangements in relation to the Information Commissioner taking over responsibility from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for receiving these statistics from agencies and ministers, and reporting on them in the Information Commissioner's annual report.From 1 January 2011 agencies and ministers' quarterly reports are required by reg 5 of the Freedom of Information (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 1982 to be submitted within 21 days of the end of the quarter, and the annual report by 31 July each year.

15.11 The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will prepare a report for the period from 1 July 2010 to 31 October 2010. The information from that report will be incorporated in the OAIC's annual report for 2010–2011.

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Agencies' annual reports for 2010–2011

15.12 Prior to the commencement of the IPS on 1 May 2011, s 8(1) of the FOI Act required each minister responsible for an agency to publish a statement setting out details of the agency's organisation, functions and powers, public consultation arrangements, categories of documents held, and arrangements for public access to agency documents in the agency's possession. Section 8(1)(b) required the minister to publish an annual update of the agency statement. Section 8(3) required both the first statement and the annual updates to be published in the agency's annual report. The practice adopted by most agencies has been to repeat the entire statement as updated in the agency annual report.

15.13 Ministers and agencies must provide this information in their 2010–2011 annual report, even though this obligation will for practical purposes have been overtaken by the IPS. Agencies can either:

  • include an update on the s 8 statement published in their 2009–2010 annual report, with an explanation that the information can now be found on the agency website under the IPS, or
  • publish the s 8 statement in full, as in previous annual reports.

15.14 The annual report guidelines published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies, will be amended to require a sentence in the s 8 statement for 2010–2011 foreshadowing that from 1 May 2011 agencies subject to the FOI Act will publish similar information in accordance with the IPS. The annual report guidelines are available at www.dpmc.gov.au.

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