Whether to conduct a review of the Official Information Act (OIA)

Andrew Ecclestone made this Official Information request to Ministry of Justice

The request was partially successful.

From: Andrew Ecclestone

Dear Ministry of Justice,

This is an Official Information Act request to be supplied with:

(i) a copy of all the submissions made to the Ministry of Justice in response to its consultation on whether to advise the Minister of Justice to initiate a review of the Official Information Act, where the submitter did not request that their submission not be published; and

(ii) a copy of the records made by Ministry officials of their meetings with any person (external to the Ministry) that they interviewed or met with in the context of this consultation; and

(iii) the names and organisational affiliation (if any) of any submitters that requested confidentiality for their submissions; and

(iv) any project plan or other information describing the Ministry’s intentions for organisation and delivery of commitment 7 in the New Zealand Open Government Partnership National Action Plan for 2018-20 (http://www.ogp.org.nz/new-zealands-plan/...), and

(v) a copy of all unpublished progress reports to senior officials and/or Ministers and/or the State Services Commission on progress with delivery of commitment 7, and

(vi) information which explains why the consultation exercise on commitment 7, conducted between March and April 2019 is not listed on the Ministry's web pages for previous (https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sect...) or closed (https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/co...) consultations, and

(vii) a copy of any Ministry policy on proactive publication of information (in reference to this SSC guidance on proactive publication which 'encourages' agencies to create such a policy - https://www.ssc.govt.nz/sites/all/files/... ).

I am happy to receive the information listed above on different dates, so that the information requested in parts (i) and (vii) can be supplied in advance of the Ministry providing the information sought in parts (ii) to (vi) of the request.

In relation to the information requested in part (i), since the submitters did not request confidentiality and the Ministry has already informed me that it has decided it will be publishing these submissions, I believe that compliance with the section 15(1) requirement to make a decision as soon as reasonably practicable means the Ministry can make its decision on this aspect of my request on the day of receiving it. I also respectfully draw the Ministry’s attention to section 28(5) of the OIA concerning any delay in providing the information after a decision has been made. In respect of section 18(d) of the OIA, I draw the Ministry's attention to the Ombudsman's guidance on this issue, available here: http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/syste... Page 6 of this guidance states "As a general rule of thumb, release more than 8 weeks after the refusal is unlikely to be considered ‘soon’."

In relation to the information requested in parts (ii) to (vii), I believe the public interest in disclosure outweighs any grounds for withholding. There is a strong public interest in the public being able to participate in the making of policy on the operation and possible reform of the OIA (as per section 4(a)(i) of the OIA), and in accountability both for the MOJ, and in the accountability of any Ministers or public sector workers or office holders who may have made a submission to the Ministry (as per section 4(a)(ii)), as these submissions are efforts by them to influence the formulation of public policy. It is also clear that the OIA makes a decision on disclosure the responsibility of the Ministry, and does not require these people’s consent.

Pursuant to section 16 of the OIA, my preferred method of receiving this information is as electronic attachments to an email sent to the address from which the Ministry received this request. Also pursuant to section 16 of the OIA I request that the attachments are searchable, not image-only (rasterised) PDF documents, and that they are not watermarked with ‘Released under the OIA’ or similar text, as the law does not require the Ministry to do this.

Under section 19(a)(ii), if the Ministry decides to withhold any of the requested information I have requested, I further request that it provides me with the grounds in support of any reasons for withholding that it has asserted. I also ask that it list each of the public interest factors favouring disclosure that it has considered when making its decision.

I look forward to hearing from the Ministry shortly.

Kind regards,

Andrew Ecclestone

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From: correspondence, official
Ministry of Justice

Good afternoon Mr Ecclestone,

Acknowledging receipt of your OIA request of 18 June 2019, for information relating to a review of the Official Information Act, as below.

We have passed this to the relevant business unit and you can expect a response on or before 16 July 2019.

Kind regards,

Alex Pickard
Advisor | Official Correspondence
Communications
Ministry of Justice | Tāhū o te Ture

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From: Watts, Jerram
Ministry of Justice


Attachment image001.jpg
15K Download

Attachment OIA 75977 Ecclestone Letter.pdf
4.5M Download View as HTML


Hi Mr Ecclestone,

 

Please find attached your response to OIA 75977.

 

Unfortunately the file size of the data you are requesting is too large to
email. Please provide us with a postal address and we will courier you a
USB with the data.

 

Kind regards, Jerram

 

   

[1]Description: Description: Description: Jerram Watts
Description: Senior Media Advisor |
http://justice.govt.nz/courts/shared/jus... Communications Services
Ministry of Justice | Tāhū o te
Ture
M 027 291 3518 P 04 918 8980 |
Ext 58980
[2][email address]
| [3]justice.govt.nz

 

 

 

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3. http://www.justice.govt.nz/

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From: Andrew Ecclestone

Dear Mr Watts,

Thank you for sending me the Ministry's decision on my request, along with some of the information I requested.

This website is able to accomodate large files by arrangement, so there is no need to post me a disc, etc. I have contacted the administrator of the site and asked them to contact you with details of how the copies of the submissions can be uploaded to the site.

If you don't hear from the site administrator, or the Ministry has difficulty in uploading the submissions, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Ecclestone

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Oliver Lineham left an annotation ()

I have sent an upload URL to Jerram.

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From: Watts, Jerram
Ministry of Justice

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the reply, and my apologies for not being more clear in my email - the issue is at our end, we can't send large file sizes by email from the Ministry.

The PDF is 37MB and exceeds our capacity here.

Happy for us to courier a USB to you?

Kind regards, Jerram

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

37 MB isn't that big. Obviously it will depend on exactly what this file size limit is, but surely they could split the PDF into two or three separate files and be able to send each of those?

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From: Andrew Ecclestone

Dear Mr Watts,

Thanks for your email. I understand that the Ministry has a file size limit for attachments to emails - every agency does.

However, my understanding is that the administrator of this website has sent you an email with a link to a web page, which will enable you to upload the files directly, and *not using email*. To quote from the site administrator's email (which they have provided me a copy of):

"We have an upload facility for large files which is preferable to post. The link below will log you in to our site as Ministry of Justice and allow you to send responses and attach files without using email.

We'd appreciate it if you would try uploading the extra files (one at a time, or zip them) using this link: [link address]"

So, in response to your email, my answer is no, I am not happy for you to courier me a USB stick with the responses on them. My original request stated that my preference, under section 16 of the OIA, is to receive the information via this website. That is still the case, because I want this website to enable other people besides myself to read the submissions people made to the consultation - it is the reason why I used this website to send my request. Sending me the information on a USB stick would not enable this. Section 16(2) of the OIA sets out the only basis for the Ministry not to comply with my preferred means of receiving the information, and I do not think it would 'impair efficient administration' for the Ministry to use the most straightforward means of responding to my request in the manner in which I prefer. (I also do not think any of the other reasons in s. 16(2) apply.)

I therefore suggest that you, or a colleague in the Ministry, follow the instructions in the email from the site administrator, click on the link in the email they sent you and on the web page it takes you too, and upload the file(s) containing the information the Ministry is disclosing. I repeat, it does *not* require the Ministry to attach the files to an email. If you have not received the email from the site administrator (perhaps it was caught in a spam filter), please let me know and I will arrange for the information to be re-sent. If you have received the site administrator's email and have clicked on the link but are unsure how to proceed, maybe it would be worth you seeking advice from a colleague in the Ministry's IT or Information Management team.

I hope this is clear, but if the Ministry still has difficulties, please let me know.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Ecclestone

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From: Watts, Jerram
Ministry of Justice

Thanks Andrew - I'll wait to receive the email from the website administrator, which hasn't come through yet.

Kind regards, Jerram

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From: Andrew Ecclestone

Thanks Jerram,

My understanding is the email was sent yesterday. I'll find out if the email has bounced back to the FYI administrator, but if you could also ask the IT people in the Ministry to investigate whether it has been caught in a spam filter, I would be grateful.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Ecclestone

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Ministry of Justice


Attachment OIA 75977 Ecclestone final.pdf
37.7M Download View as HTML


Hi Andrew,

Attached is your OIA 75977 response.

Kind regards, Jerram

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From: Andrew Ecclestone

Dear Jerram,

Thank you very much. Glad the earlier technical difficulties have been surmounted.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Ecclestone

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From: Watts, Jerram
Ministry of Justice

Hi Andrew,

No worries - thanks for getting the link sent through, glad it's sorted!

Cheers, Jerram

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