There has been a "marked increase" in the number of freedom of information open access requests that have been rejected from ACT government agencies, but the territory's Ombudsman has labelled this as a positive.
An annual report on the operation of the territory's FOI act showed there had been 83 decisions to not publish open access information in the 2020-21 financial year, this was compared to only 11 in the previous year.
A majority of the decisions to not publish open access information came from the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.
The directorate chose not to publish information in 76 instances. However, there was 450 decisions to publish open access information.
Acting ACT Ombudsman Penny McKay told an estimates hearing that she believed the increased could be actually be viewed as a positive as it meant more people had interacted with the scheme.
"People and agencies are actively considering the information that they have at their disposal and actively considering whether it should be released or not," she said.
"I think that the increase that you're seeing in those figures shows that there is that marked increase and interaction in the act, which we welcome.
"We want people to look at information, we want them to consider it, to put it out in the public or not and use the scheme actively in that way so we see it kind of as a positive actually."
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Liberal MLA Peter Cain appeared to be taken aback by the Ombudsman's comments, saying he did not find that particularly comforting.
However, Ms McKay said one of the intentions of the new act, which came into effect in 2016, was for the agencies to actively consider information at their disposal.
"Whilst agencies are making decisions not to release certain information they are also making decisions to release certain information and they're actively considering that and doing it," she said.
"Obviously as the Ombudsman we would like to much more information released and have that open access information released on a regular basis.
"But we're also heartened that agencies are actively considering those decisions and engaging with the information at their disposal."
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