Investigation into FOI processing by the Department of Home Affairs

25 October 2019
Tags: statement

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has opened an investigation into the Department of Home Affairs’ compliance with the Freedom of Information Act 1982 in processing requests for non-personal information.

Australian Government agencies and ministers have a statutory obligation to process FOI requests within 30 days. There are provisions which allow for extra time in certain circumstances.

In 2018-19, 56% of the 734 FOI requests to the Department for non-personal information were not dealt with in the required timeframe.

The OAIC has received a number of FOI complaints and review applications related to the Department’s compliance with statutory timeframes for processing requests for non-personal information.

One of the objects of the FOI Act is to facilitate and promote public access to information, promptly and at the lowest reasonable cost.

Under the FOI Act, the Information Commissioner may initiate an investigation into an agency’s performance of FOI functions or exercise of powers.

Once the investigation is completed the OAIC will publish the outcomes.

Note: In 2018-19, the Department of Home Affairs received 17,725 FOI requests and decided 15,678 FOI requests. Of the requests decided, 734 were for non-personal information and 14,944 were for personal information: 56% of requests for non-personal information and 24% of requests for personal information were not decided within the required timeframe.