Consulting with the Office of the Information Commissioner

Under the Right to Information Act 20091(RTI Act), if an agency is going to disclose information which would reasonably be expected to be of concern to a third party, an agency must take reasonably practicable steps to obtain their views.2

While access applications cannot be made to an agency3 for RTI or IP application processing files,4 and this exclusion includes external review correspondence from the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), other documents from the OIC can be applied for if they are held by an agency. These could include OIC correspondence sent to an agency during a performance audit or privacy complaint, or material circulated during Privacy Awareness Week.

OIC's view is that consultation with OIC about releasing these documents is not required.

OIC considers the professional opinion of a public sector employee given in a professional capacity to be routine personal work information, the disclosure of which would generally not be of concern to that person.5 The harm that could result from its disclosure would, in most circumstances, be minimal or none. In addition, OIC supports the pro-disclosure bias of the RTI Act and promotes agency openness wherever possible. The release of documents that record information provided by OIC officers6 about the Acts will generally not be of concern.

This does not alter an agency's obligation to consult with other third parties if the agency believes they would be concerned about release. It also has no impact on an agency's decision about whether that third party information is exempt or contrary to public interest to release.

An agency has the discretion to release exempt or contrary to public interest information.7 OIC is not concerned about disclosure in these circumstances and does not need to be consulted.

Current as at: May 13, 2022