Guidelines to Public Authorities
Who is a Responsible Officer?
A Responsible officer is a person who is employed by a public authority and responsible for administering the process of the Access to Information Act.
What are the duties of the Responsible Officer?
The functions and duties of the responsible officer include:
- Acknowledging requests
- Electronically recording all requests including oral requests
- Assisting applicants to ensure proper identification of official documents
- Conducting initial interview
- Examining a requested document to determine whether:
- Document is exempt
- Document contains exempt matter
- That grant of access is to be deferred, or
- The form requested would be in breach of Copyright Act
- Keep applicants informed of status of request
- Provide Access to non-exempt documents
- Provide guidance to Permanent Secretary or head of public authority to identify exempt documents or exempt matter
- Inform applicants in writing that requested document is exempt, contains exempt matter or will be deferred and the basis for exemption or deferral
- Assisting with implementing decisions in keeping with the Act and any other relevant law
- Maintain knowledge of the Act, laws relevant to its Administration and laws affecting records and information management
- Inform applicants that requested document is already published and if requested provide access to such publication
- Coordinating with the public authority information required to be publish consistent with the statements of organization
- Publishing in local newspapers, gazetted date of statements of organization and functions
- Transfer of applications and informing applicants of such
- Anything required under the Act or the ATI Regulations
To help Public Entities comply with obligations under the law, and demonstrate best practice, here is a useful checklist. Note that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list but is designed to stimulate your thinking about what constitutes good practice.
Does your staff
- Know about the Act?
- Take it seriously?
- Will your staff recognize a Access to Information request?
- Will they be able to advise and assist?
- Know where your publication scheme is?
- Know what's in your publication scheme?
- Have you carried out an information audit?
- Do you know where all your information is and what you hold?
- Do you hold information on behalf of someone else? Is this clearly marked?
Does anyone else hold information on your behalf?