OFFICIAL INFORMATION ACT 1982 Guidance for dealing with OIA requests
Receiving an OIA
Managing an OIA
Completing an OIA
Is it an OIA request?
The request is for a lot information and will require significant work:
Who needs to see the response?
Any request for information is considered to be a request under the
Under section 12 of the OIA the information requested shall be specified
If you are releasing information that involves other departments
OIA. The person requesting the information does not have to state that
with due particularity. If the request is specific but wide-ranging (e.g.
you should consult with them to ensure they are comfortable
they seek it under the OIA. Some simpler requests (such as a request
requesting all documents, emails, briefings, files, drafts etc.) then
for the information to be released. If you are releasing names,
for a brochure, or for information easily found on the NZDF website)
consideration will need to be given about whether the request is refused
then as a courtesy you should notify those people of the
are not formally processed. If you receive a request for information
under section 18(f) due to substantial collation and research. Before
contact Ministerial Services, who can advise whether it will need to be
refusing a request under this section you must consider whether the
Your response is to be thoroughly reviewed prior to release.
recorded in the system.
request could be provided if the scope was narrowed, if a charge was
When you have prepared the draft response it should be
imposed, or whether the time limit was extended.
approved by your senior manager. If you are unsure about
whether you can withhold information you should check with
DLS or Ministerial Services.
How are requests registered?
Most OIA requests will come to Ministerial Services via OCDF, DCG or
Refusing a response:
the Minister’s office. If you receive a request directly you need to
There may be valid reasons to refuse a request for information. If the
contact Ministerial Services so that the request can be properly
information requested is soon to be publicly available (e.g. the NZDF
managed. Ministerial Services will register the request and assign it to
intends to publish it on its website, or it will be available in a press release
Finalising your response:
the Primary Lead, who then has responsibility for ensuring that the
or via a Minister’s speech in the very near future) then the information can
Once your draft response has been approved it is ready to be
request is answered.
be refused. If the information does not exist then the request can be
finalised for submission to Ministerial Services. The draft
refused – the NZDF is not required to create information to fulfil an OIA
response is to be in the proper template and loaded on the
request. If the request is frivolous or vexatious then it can likewise be
SharePoint site. Any attachments are to be scanned onto the
site, on OIA paper, with proper redactions. Redactions are
not to be completed with a black marker pen – you must use
Is this request for me?
redaction tape (available from Ministerial Services) and hand
If you are assigned an OIA, but believe it has been given to the wrong
write the grounds under which the information has been
team, please notify your Primary Lead or Ministerial Services. It will be
withheld next to the redaction. Once all the paperwork is
re-assigned promptly, so that no response time is lost.
What information can be withheld?
finalised and uploaded onto the SharePoint site you need to
If you believe that the request has been sent to the wrong department,
Sections 6 and 9 of the OIA list the main reasons by which information
let Ministerial Services know. If you are withholding
you need to notify Ministerial Services so that the request can be
can be withheld. Common reasons that the NZDF withholds information
information your response letter needs to state under what
officially transferred. A request must be transferred within 10 working
are because release could:
grounds the information is withheld, and that the requester
days of receipt, and the requester must be notified that their request
Prejudice the security of New Zealand;
has the right to complain to the Ombudsman about the
has been transferred.
Prejudice the entrusting of information to the New Zealand
Prejudice the maintenance of the law;
Prevent free and frank communication; and
How long do I have?
Breach legal professional privilege.
All OIA requests are subject to legislative timeframes and should be
What does Ministerial Services do once I have sent them
Any information that is withheld needs to be justified, and needs to stand
given the appropriate priority. All requests are to be completed within
the approved response?
up to scrutiny from the Ombudsman. Withholding information because
20 working days. There is a provision in the OIA to seek extensions –
Ministerial Services will review the response letter and
release could be embarrassing, or could result in negative media
however, a heavy workload is not reason enough to extend the
attachments, and seek changes if necessary. Once Ministerial
coverage are not suitable grounds alone.
timeframe. Failure to meet deadlines may mean that the Ombudsman
Services is satisfied that the OIA is complete, they will
undertake the final consultation with the Minister’s office and
investigates the NZDF.
the CDF’s advisor. After consultation is complete, the final
response will be submitted to CDF or COS for signing. Once
signed, the final response will be sent to the requester by either
the Minister’s Office, DCG or Ministerial Services. A copy will
be placed in the SharePoint file for easy access.
On track, issues under management
Progress, but significant issues to resolve
Disclaimer: This information is intended as guidance only – if you have any questions regarding OIA requests please contact Ministerial
Services, or for legal issues please contact Defence Legal Services.
Urgent attention required