Media release: Queensland public sector report on information access and privacy practices

Queensland’s Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) report, 2016 Right to Information and Information Privacy Electronic Audit: Queensland public sector agencies’ responses and comparative analysis with 2010 and 2013 results, was tabled in Parliament this week.

The report presents the results of the third electronic audit in which Queensland public sector agencies self-assessed their progress in implementing an effective RTI and IP environment within their organisation, including leadership and culture, greater access to appropriate information, and legislative compliance.

Queensland’s Information Commissioner, Rachael Rangihaeata noted that agencies had reported that they were complying well with requirements related to applications to access documents under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) and Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act).

“I encourage government agencies to focus on proactive disclosure strategies that are likely to have a broad impact on communities and improve their own performance, transparency and accountability.”

In Queensland the Right to Information model is that government agencies proactively release information where appropriate, without a formal application. For example, agencies commonly provide information about their organisation including their services, their income and expenditure on their websites.

“Significant improvements across the key areas identified in this report will ensure government agencies have more effective information access and privacy protection frameworks, which meet legislative obligations,” said Ms Rangihaeata.

“This will mean better outcomes for the community, with easier and better access to information, and appropriate handling of their personal information.”

The report identifies four areas for improvement for government agencies: governance, administrative access arrangements, community consultation and performance monitoring.

The findings include:

  • The 184 responding agencies reported on average 81% full compliance  and 7% partial compliance with their obligations; this is a 3 percentage point increase since 2013.
  • Departments and the university and TAFE sector reported the highest overall compliance.
  • A quarter of agencies reported they did not have, or document, their RTI and IP policies.
  • A significant proportion of agencies (40%) reported they did not have any administrative access arrangements to provide easier access to information regularly sought by people.
  • Progress has stalled in implementing community consultation frameworks, including to understand what information stakeholders need; and
  • Agencies need to renew their effort to monitor and report the performance of their RTI and IP functions to inform appropriate management action, with little progress made in this area between 2013 and 2016.

Ms Rangihaeata said, “Agencies must prioritise RTI and IP within their business, as right to information and information privacy strongly contribute to community confidence in open and accountable government, and improved customer service.”

Read the report here