What do you do if you think official information has been unreasonably withheld?

The Ombudsman can investigate:

-  decisions to withhold information or to delete information from documents released to you;
-  delays or extensions to the time limits for responding to requests;
-  decisions to transfer a request, if that decision was made by an agency subject to the Ombudsmen Act 1975; 3761
-  charges for supplying information;
-  the way in which information has been made available;
-  release of information subject to conditions;
-  the response to a request for a statement of reasons for a decision or recommendation affecting the requester; 3762
-  the response to a request for access to policies, rules and guidelines; 3763
-  the response to requests for access to personal information under Part 4 of the Official Information  Act or  Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act. 3764

There is no charge for making a complaint to an Ombudsman. When making a complaint you need to advise the Ombudsman of: 3765

-  What you requested
-  When you made the request
-  Who you made your request to
-  What you are dissatisfied about and want investigated

If possible, you should provide copies of supporting information, including a copy of your request, and a copy of the agency’s response (if any).

If you wish to make a complaint you can do so by using the online complaint form.

If an Ombudsman forms the view that information should not be withheld, the Ombudsman can recommend that the agency release the information to you.

Under the Official Information Act, a Minister or agency has a public duty to observe the recommendation after 21 working days have passed since it was made, unless the Governor-General by Order in Council directs otherwise. 3766

Under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, the recommendation becomes binding 21 working days after it has been made, unless a resolution directing otherwise is made at a meeting of the local authority. 3767

More information:

The Ombudsman’s Practice Guidelines on the official information legislation

Ombudsman ‘Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 – Guide for local authorities and requesters on accessing official information’ 

Ombudsman ‘How the official information legislation works

  1. There is no function to investigate transfers under the official information legislation.

  2. Official Information Act 1982, section 23, and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, section 22.

  3. See Official Information Act 1982, section 22, and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, section 20.

  4. These are requests by bodies corporate (eg companies, trusts, incorporated societies) for personal information about themselves. Requests by individuals for personal information about themselves are made under the Privacy Act, and complaints in respect of such requests are considered by the Privacy Commissioner.

  5. Section 32 Official Information Act 1982

  6. Section 32 Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987

Last updated at 11:21AM on March 6, 2015