Freedom of information investigation outcomes
Under Part VIIB of the FOI Act, the Information Commissioner can investigate an action taken by an agency in the performance of its functions or the exercise of powers under the FOI Act. This involves investigating complaints (s 69(1)), as well as conducting investigations at the Commissioner’s own initiative (Commissioner initiated investigations (CIIs)) (s 69(2)).
On completing an investigation, the Information Commissioner must provide a ‘notice on completion’ to the agency and to the complainant (if there is one) (s 86). The Information Commissioner’s notice on completion must include the investigation results, the investigation recommendations (if any), and the reasons for those results and any recommendations (s 86(2)). A notice on completion must not include exempt matter or information about the existence or non-existence of a document that would be exempt under ss 33, 37(1) or 45A (ss 89C and 25(1)).
If recommendations have been made (s 88), and the Information Commissioner is not satisfied that the agency has taken adequate and appropriate action to implement a formal recommendation, the Information Commissioner may issue a written ‘implementation notice’ requiring the agency to provide within a specified time particulars of any action the agency will take to implement the Information Commissioner’s recommendations (s 89).
The Information Commissioner may subsequently report to the minister responsible for the agency and the minister responsible for the FOI Act if the Information Commissioner is not satisfied that the agency has taken adequate and appropriate action to implement the recommendations or has not responded to the implementation notice within the specified time (s 89A). The minister responsible for the FOI Act must table the report before each House of the Parliament (s 89A(5)).