The Ombudsman recognises that, in such cases, it is important to take account of the basis on which information has been provided. Attempt has been made to establish whether or not those submitting the information or those to whom it relates still wish confidentiality or privacy to be maintained. In one case, the length of the Ombudsman’s investigation was extended by departments failing to provide early enough full details of their reasons for withholding the information sought.
This failure would not occur if, when they are proposing to withhold information, departments set out their full reasons for doing so at the outset. Although there has been a general improvement in the handling of Code requests, there is still a tendency to focus on the specific Code exemptions which might apply only when the case reaches the Ombudsman. There is little change to report. Although the Ombudsman expressed the view (paragraph 5.7 of the 1999-00 Annual Report).
That the average throughput time for Code investigations was capable of further reduction, it has not proved possible to achieve that this year. the time taken, on average, to complete Code investigations remains around the 23 weeks mark. Once again, House Inspections Melbourne combination of the need for extensive negotiation in some cases and the high-profile nature of others has counteracted the more straightforward cases which can often be completed in 20 weeks or less. We will continue to work towards reducing the average throughput time as far as is possible.
A target of 100% is exacting and it was probably inevitable that some cases would slip through. Against the target of 60% we achieved 65%. 55 complaints took longer than 13 weeks. That was higher than expected but 41 occurred in the first half of the year as staff were getting to grips with their new responsibilities and working practices and the time taken by some departments to reply to our enquiries was a contributory factor.