The Government is going to extend the Official Information Act (OIA) to cover courts and the Ombudsman's Office is going to have more say in the way departments respond to applications.
Justice Minister Judith Collins says she's accepting some of the recommendations in a Law Commission report and will consider implementing others.
The changes are:
- Extending the OIA to the administrative functions of the courts, including information about expenditure, resources and statistical information about court cases;
- Supporting improved education and guidance from the Office of the Ombudsman - the independent authority that provides advice to government agencies and helps people in their dealings with the state sector
- Introducing new protections for commercial information and clarifying how the legislation applies to commercially sensitive information;
- Protections for third-party information and other issues related to the Privacy Act.
There are persistent complaints from OIA applicants about the length of time it takes Government departments to answer their queries.
Numerous applications are turned down and are referred to the Ombudsman's Office, which often orders departments to comply.