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NSW leading development of national Freedom of Information metrics by Australian Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen

The NSW Information Commissioner is leading work by Australian Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen to develop uniform metrics on public use of freedom of information (FOI) access rights and the collection and publication of this data.

The Australian Government and the states and territories collect data and produce statistics about applications to access government information. But the data isn’t uniform across jurisdictions, making it difficult to compare and analyse how the Australia-wide use of information access rights. In addition, the statistics aren’t always consistent with international measurements of open government.  

Commitment 3.2 of Australia’s first Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, formed in December 2016, promotes better measurement and improvement of the understanding of the public’s use of rights under freedom of information laws. This would be done through development of uniform metrics on public use of freedom of information access rights, in collaboration with states and territories and by collecting and publishing this data.

Australian Information Commissioners and Ombudsmen, within the remit of each of their jurisdictions and led by NSW, have now agreed on six proposed Metrics on Public Use of Freedom of Information Access Rights:

  • Type of applicant
  • Application rates per capita
  • Release rates
  • Refusal rates
  • Timeliness
  • Review rates

The community's use of access rights, government processes and practices will be benchmarked against the World Justice Project’s Open Government Index. The Index uses four dimensions to measure government openness: publicized laws and government data, right to information, civic participation, and complaint mechanisms. Australia was ranked at the 9th position in the 2015 Index. Over the next few months NSW will lead a validation and pilot process for data collection and presentation. Consultation with civil society is anticipated. The first data report using the metrics is scheduled for release by the end of 2017.

People are invited to contribute to the ongoing development of the metrics by sending ideas and comments to metricsconsult@ipc.nsw.gov.au.

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