Requests for eligibility under the Official Information Act

Mark Hanna made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

Currently waiting for a response from Ministry of Health, they must respond promptly and normally no later than (details and exceptions).

From: Mark Hanna

Tēnā koutou,

I have seen that the Ministry of Health has recently asked many people making requests for official information through the FYI website to provide proof of eligibility under section 12(1) of the Official Information Act. For example: https://fyi.org.nz/request/13631-corresp...

The Ministry of Health also told these requesters:

“Please note that if we do not receive a response from you by this date, your request will be withdrawn.”

The Ministry of Health does not seem to request proof of eligibility in all cases, or even just for all requests made through FYI. In 2015 and in 2018, the Ministry of Health responded to two requests for official information that I made through FYI, and in neither case was I told I must provide proof of eligibility. There are also recent examples on FYI of requests that were processed without any request for proof of eligibility.

Please release the following information for the past two years, broken down by month:

1a. How many requests for official information were received by the Ministry of Health?
1b. For how many of these requests did the Ministry of Health request proof of the requester’s eligibility under section 12(a) of the OIA?
1c. For how many of these requests was proof provided?
1d. How many requests for official information received in this month were considered withdrawn because proof was not provided?

Please also release the following information:

2a. What criteria are used by the Ministry of Health in determining whether or not a request for official information should require proof of the requester’s eligibility?
2b. When were these criteria adopted?
2c. What advice did the Ministry of Health receive on the creation and adoption of these criteria?

If any of the information I have requested in part 2 of my request is not written down, I would like to remind the Ministry that the definition of “official information” includes information which is known to an agency, but which has not yet been written down.

Please provide this information in an accessible, searchable format.

If any part of my request is unclear, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Given the Ministry of Health has answered my requests for official information in the past, I trust that there is no question regarding my eligibility under section 12(1) to make requests of the Official Information Act.

Ngā mihi,
Mark Hanna

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Mr Rodgers left an annotation ()

Well done. You should do the same with Police.

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

Have you seen Police demanding proof of eligibility? I have definitely seen it before on here, but I'd be very interested if you could point me to any recent examples.

By chance, I spoke with Police's senior OIA advisor on Facebook in January 2019 about them demanding proof of eligibility before they would process OIA requests, and they told me this:

"Mark Hanna I am now the Senior Advisor at Police, and that would be very much against our policy (and the spirit, if not the letter, of the law) and our capacity. Police does the vast majority of requests and we have a small team in a devolved model, and we don't have the time to check. If you know if it happening - direct people straight to the Ombudsman."

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Mr Rodgers left an annotation ()

To be fair, I don't think I've seen one of these from Police recently. It was when they were asking for requesters to front up at their local nick with their passports that I got my back up.

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

Ah, yes I've seen them mislead requesters before by telling them requests had to be made in a particular form, such as filling in a form on the Police website or making a request in person at a police station.

I don't think I've seen any recent examples of this, but if you're interested I did make a request in 2017 that I hope prompted them to clean up their act a little bit in this regard: https://fyi.org.nz/request/5553-complian...

Police are in a uniquely privileged position in that they are subject to the Official Information Act, but not to the Ombudsmen Act. This prevents the Office of the Ombudsman from investigating their general behaviour or compliance with the OIA, instead they can only investigate when a requester makes a complaint about a specific request.

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Ministry of Health


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Kia ora

Thank you for your request for official information received on 2
September 2020 for:

"Please release the following information for the past two years, broken
down by month:

1a. How many requests for official information were received by the
Ministry of Health?
1b. For how many of these requests did the Ministry of Health request
proof of the requester’s eligibility under section 12(a) of the OIA?
1c. For how many of these requests was proof provided?
1d. How many requests for official information received in this month were
considered withdrawn because proof was not provided?

Please also release the following information:

2a. What criteria are used by the Ministry of Health in determining
whether or not a request for official information should require proof of
the requester’s eligibility?
2b. When were these criteria adopted?
2c. What advice did the Ministry of Health receive on the creation and
adoption of these criteria?"

The Ministry's reference number for your request is: H202006927.

As required under the Official Information Act 1982, the Ministry will
endeavour to respond to your request no later than 30 September 2020,
being 20 working days after the day your request was received.  

If we are unable to respond to your request within this time frame, we
will notify you of an extension of that time frame.

If you have any queries related to this request, please do not hesitate to
get in touch.

Ngâ mihi

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

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Mark Hanna left an annotation ()

Comparing this acknowledgement with those received by other requesters on here recently, it seems likely the Ministry of Health has decided not to ask me to provide evidence of my eligibility under s12 of the OIA.

I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that they have answered my requests in the past, as I noted in this request, or if it might be because of the potential of damage to their reputation if they attempted to block this request by demanding that I prove my eligibility.

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From: Mark Hanna

Tēnā koe,

It has now been 17 working days since the Ministry of Health received my request. I would like to remind you that the OIA requires that decisions be communicated as soon as reasonably practicable, and that the 20 working day deadline is not a target.

Though the OIA does not require that notifications of an extension to this deadline must be communicated as soon as reasonably practicable, if you anticipate that you will not be able to communicate your decision on my request no later than Wednesday 30 September then I would appreciate it if you would indicate this sooner rather than later.

Ngā mihi,
Mark Hanna

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Ministry of Health only: