Go to top of page

Freedom of information performance measures

Corporate Plan activity 2.1

Develop the freedom of information (FOI) capabilities of Australian Government agencies and ministers, and promote FOI best practice.

Performance measure 2.1.1

Tools and guidance are updated to assist Australian Government agencies to comply with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS).

Not achieved

In June 2019 we published the Information Publication Scheme Survey 2018, a survey of all Australian Government agencies subject to the FOI Act. The survey reviewed the operation of the IPS and gave agencies an opportunity to comply with the requirement to conduct a review under s 9 of the FOI Act.

In 2019–20, we will develop tools and guidance, including updating the Part 13 of the FOI Guidelines, to address issues identified in the IPS survey to help agencies better comply with their IPS obligations.

Performance measure 2.1.2

Guidance and resources are reviewed and updated to assist Australian Government agencies and ministers to apply the FOI Act.


We consulted Australian Government agencies on a revised Part 4 (Charges) of the FOI Guidelines. We will issue the final version in 2019–20.

In September 2018, we published the revised ‘Agency Resource 14 — Access to Government Information — Administrative Access’.

In preparation for the release of our new website, all FOI resources were reviewed, and updated, where necessary, for migration to the new website.

Performance measure 2.1.3

Information is provided to stakeholders that is relevant in both content and delivery.


In 2018–19, we met with many Australian Government agencies to discuss issues affecting FOI.

Our Information Contact Officers Network (ICON) comprising 527 at 30 June 2019, received 13 newsletters and updates updates with information about FOI. The average click-through rate for the ICON newsletter was 28%.

We also emailed a monthly newsletter to subscribers of OAICnet (known as Information Matters since May 2019). This newsletter contained news and updates about the OAIC, FOI and privacy matters and information on upcoming events.

In September 2018 and April 2019 we held ICON information sessions in Canberra to update members on recent FOI activity, trends and the OAIC’s priorities. Agencies who attended the information sessions gave positive feedback on the delivery of the session and the content.

The Information Commissioner addressed access to information issues in several speeches and presentations throughout the year, including the International Conference of Information Commissioners in South Africa in March and the Australian Government Solicitor FOI and Privacy Forum in May 2019.

Corporate Plan activity 2.2

Conduct Information Commissioner reviews.

Performance measure 2.2.1*

80% of Information Commissioner (IC) reviews are completed within 12 months.

Not achieved

We completed 73.1% of IC reviews within 12 months.

The significant increase in IC review applications we received and our focus on reducing the number of cases over 12 months old prevented us from reaching our target of completing 80% within 12 months.

We used alternative dispute resolution methods and early appraisal to clarify at an early stage the issues to be resolved or the information to be provided by either party in support of their claims or submissions. This includes reviewing the material submitted by both parties and providing a preliminary view on the merits of the case to the relevant party. The party may then make further submissions or take other action as appropriate (an applicant withdrawing application or the agency revising the decision).

We facilitated the early resolution of IC reviews by helping the parties to reach an agreement about the outcome of the review in line with s 55F of the FOI Act, including by arranging teleconferences between parties where appropriate.

We used our regulatory powers under the FOI Act to ensure efficient and timely processes, including by issuing notices to agencies under ss 55E (to provide an adequate statement of reasons) and 55R (notice to produce information or documents).

The Information Commissioner made 60 IC review decisions under s 55K of the FOI Act (which are published on AustLII). These decisions help agencies interpret the FOI Act and provide guidance on the exercise of their powers and functions, by addressing novel issues and building on existing jurisprudence.

We developed the capacity of our staff to identify matters that can be resolved quickly and informally through early resolution processes, whether it be through agreement or negotiation, case appraisals or preliminary views, as well as identifying significant matters which should proceed to a s 55K decision by the Commissioner.

Corporate Plan activity 2.3

Investigate FOI complaints and conduct Commissioner initiated investigations (CIIs).

Performance measure 2.3.1*

80% of FOI complaints finalised within 12 months.


We finalised 82% of FOI complaints within 12 months of receipt during this reporting period.

We identified at an early stage whether a complaint or an IC review is the appropriate mechanism. We also used early appraisal to clarify the issues to be resolved or the information to be provided by either party in support of their claims or submissions in relation to the complaint.

Performance measure 2.3.2*

80% of FOI-related CIIs finalised within eight months.

Not applicable

Only one FOI-related CII was opened in 2018–19 and the eight-month period had not elapsed by 30 June 2019.

Corporate Plan activity 2.4

Provide an FOI public information service.

Performance measure 2.4.1*

90% of FOI written enquiries are finalised within 10 working days.


We finalised 94% of all FOI written enquiries within 10 working days in 2018–19.

This is an improvement in response times from 2016–17 and 2017–18, when 88% of all written enquiries were finalised within 10 working days. During this reporting period, the FOI team focused on improving the processes for responding to FOI enquiries. As a result, the timeliness of the FOI team’s response to FOI enquiries has improved.

Performance measure 2.4.2

New community, legal and other networks are identified for targeted promotion of the public information service.


Some of our staff attended the National Association of Community Legal Centres conference in Sydney in August 2018 and promoted information access rights to staff from community legal centres from across Australia.

We held two ICON information sessions in Canberra — one in September 2018 and the other in April 2019.

Information access issues, recent decisions and resource updates were highlighted for agency staff and members of the public throughout the year in regular OAICnet (from May 2019 called ‘Information Matters’) and ICON email newsletters.

The Information Commissioner made the keynote address at the Australian Government Solicitor’s FOI and Privacy Forum in Canberra on 17 May 2019. During this reporting period, members of the FOI team also participated in FOI practitioner forums that the Australian Government Solicitor hosted.

To celebrate Right to Know Day on 28 September 2018, we launched our first Right to Know Day digital campaign, which included three short videos.

Staff also celebrated Right to Know Day with an information booth during the morning transport peak period in Wynyard Park, Sydney, a major public transport hub area.

Performance measure 2.4.3

Website content is regularly reviewed and updated to support our public information service.


We released a new website for public review in June 2019 (see performance measure 1.7.4).

Corporate Plan activity 2.5

Promote awareness and understanding of information access rights in the community.

Performance measure 2.5.1

Media and social media mentions about information access rights increase.


During this reporting period there were 334 online media mentions (2017–18; 345) and 556 social media mentions of information access rights and the OAIC (2017–18; 428), resulting in a total of 890 mentions (2017–18: 773).

The work that we did to achieve these mentions included:

  • conducting a campaign for Right to Know Day 2018, which included relaunching the Right to Know website
  • creating three videos for Right to Know Day, two for the public and one for Australian Government FOI contact officers
  • using Twitter to highlight Information Awareness Month (May 2019)
  • responding to 13 media inquiries about FOI issues
  • increasing our international engagement
  • participating in the Association of Information Access Commissioners (AIAC).

Performance measure 2.5.2

The OAIC’s website is accessible to the community and content about information access rights is regularly reviewed and updated.


We released a new website for public review in June 2019 (see performance measure 1.7.4).