Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Formalise the Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s (BOPRC’s) position on making decisions on requests for Official Information made under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA);
  • Ensure BOPRC responds to LGOIMA requests and manages the availability of Official Information in accordance with the principles of the LGOIMA and its own policies and guidelines.
  • Provide guidance to Officers on how to respond to LGOIMA requests and when it is reasonable to charge for LGOIMA requests.
  • Promote the availability of Official Information to the public through proactive release of LGOIMA responses and other information considered by BOPRC to be in the wider public interest.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council recognises that the key principle of LGOIMA is that Official Information must be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it. Providing Official Information to the public is a fundamental obligation for all Officers, is an important part of good governance and promotes transparency and accountability of local government decision making. Clear guidance for Officers promotes consistency within the organisation for LGOIMA requests which can improve our practices and reduce complaints.

Definitions

Official Information

Any information held by BOPRC subject to LGOIMA.

Officers

All staff, elected members and contractors at BOPRC.

Scope

  • This policy applies to all Officers responding to LGOIMA requests.
  • This policy does not apply to Quayside Holdings Limited.

General Policy

  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will observe the principle of availability when making decisions on LGOIMA requests and managing Official Information generally.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will ensure decisions regarding LGOIMA requests are made and communicated as soon as reasonably practicable and within the 20 working day timeframe under the LGOIMA.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will provide reasonable assistance to requesters to ensure a request is made appropriately and with due particularly.
  • Responsibility for LGOIMA requests will be allocated in accordance with the BOPRC LGOIMA Response Process.
  • When considering a LGOIMA request, BOPRC will provide all available Official Information unless it considers there are grounds under the LGOIMA to withhold all or part of the request (e.g. redactions), refuse all or part of the request, and/or transfer the request to another agency. Bay of Plenty Regional Council will communicate the reason for these decisions to the requester. Officers will seek assistance from Legal if needed when making decisions on LGOIMA requests.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will release any Official Information it has decided to release without undue delay.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council may release Official Information as a summary, excerpt or in any other format if it is considered appropriate under the grounds in the LGOIMA.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will fully cooperate with any Ombudsman early resolution enquiries and investigations into its decisions.

Charging Policy

  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will generally not charge a fee for responding to LGOIMA requests.
  • If the request is for a significant amount of information and/or requires extensive collation and research, BOPRC will charge a fee based on the Ministry of Justice Charging Guidelines for Official Information Act 1982 Requests.
  • Officers will apply the BOPRC LGOIMA Charging Guidelines when determining whether to charge and the amount of the charge.
  • If BOPRC considers it is reasonable to charge for a LGOIMA response it will advise the requester of the estimated charge as soon as possible and before commencing work to prepare the information for release.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will work with the requester to refine or narrow the scope of the request to reduce or avoid the need to charge. Bay of Plenty Regional Council may require a deposit in advance of preparing the information for release.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will consider requests to remit all or part of the charge if it considers that:
    • There is a public interest in making the information generally available;
    • The information has special relevance to the requester; and/or
    • The charge would be likely to cause hardship to the requester.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will not supply information if a requester does not agree to pay the charge.

Proactive Release Policy

  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council supports proactive release of Official Information in order to promote the availability of Official Information to the public, foster public trust and confidence and promote open and transparent good governance. For matters of high public interest, proactive release can also reduce the need for the public to make LGOIMA requests which reduces the workload on staff to respond to requests.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will decide in its sole discretion which Official Information it will proactively release. Generally information that has a high level of public interest will be released. This includes publishing LGOIMA responses or other Official Information which is not otherwise available on the BOPRC website every three months.
  • In deciding whether to proactively release Official Information, BOPRC will take into account:
    • The level of public interest in the Official Information;
    • Where there has been more than one request for the information under the LGOIMA;
    • The provisions of the LGOIMA and the Privacy Act 2020 in respect of withholding the Official Information;
    • The manner in which the Official Information will be released (e.g. as a summary or excerpt);
    • Any legal risk to BOPRC in releasing the Official Information.
  • Bay of Plenty Regional Council will advise requesters that LGOIMA responses may be proactively released on the BOPRC website under this policy.