Tips for local government

September 1, 2014 - 12:25pm

Do you work for a local or regional council? Are you responsible for your council’s records management, website or information access areas? If so, here are some helpful tips for ensuring you meet your RTI and IP obligations:

  • Don’t re-invent the wheel. If you do not yet have a privacy policy or a Right to Information page on your website, have a look at other councils’ websites to see what they’ve done. Some larger city and regional councils have comprehensive RTI and IP resources on their websites – you could gain inspiration from them to develop your own.
  • If you do make use of other agencies’ resources, ensure that any content published on your council’s website is applicable or relevant to your council. For example, if you have adopted a privacy policy from another agency, review the content of the policy to ensure it reflects your council’s position.
  • While it is useful to take inspiration from others, remember it is still your responsibility to ensure you meet requirements as most agencies are still working towards full compliance across all areas. We have many resources to help you including self-audit tools, checklists and guidelines on our website.
  • Participate in the OIC Online Training and encourage your executive to incorporate the general awareness training into your induction training for all staff.
  • Making your RTI page accessible, clear and easy to access will help your customers find what they’re looking for. Make sure you include a link to your Right to Information and Information Privacy resources from the homepage.  
  • Identify and promote how your agency provides access to information through administrative access schemes or other processes on your website so it is easy for people to find this information, understand when it is relevant to their needs and make a request or contact someone for more information.
  • Keep your publication scheme up-to-date and ensure each class of information is richly populated with significant and appropriate information in line with the Ministerial Guidelines. Sometime this can be achieved through linking to information available elsewhere on your website. 
  • By maintaining a current and up-to-date information on your RTI page, you can assist applicants to make compliant applications thereby making the application process smoother and less stressful for both you and the applicant. For example, ensure that the application fee noted on the RTI page is current ($43.35) and updated when appropriate. You can stay informed of any changes to the legislation by subscribing to the OIC news subscription service.
  • When including a link to the Right to Information & Information Privacy application form on council’s RTI page, you need to include the downloadable PDF version of the form rather than a link to the online application form available on the RTI site. The online version of the form does not include the option for applying to councils, statutory authorities or agencies other than departments. By including the PDF version of the application form, you will reduce the likelihood of it being submitted to the incorrect agency, thereby avoiding the need to transfer the application form to another agency at a later date.