The Impact of the Official Information Act 1982 on the Policy Development Process
The Official Information Act was passed into statute in 1982. Among the purposes of the Act is the enhancement and respect for the law and the promotion of good government. The aim of this paper is to detennine, from a participation perspective, the impact of the Official Information Act 1982 on the core public sector policy process. The paper starts with a background to the Act before reviewing the expected and actual impact of the Act, as outlined in the literature. The policy making process in New Zealand' s core public sector is considered, highlighting opportunities for participation. Participation theory is discussed. The research involves a survey across the core public sector to gain general views of the impact of the Act on the policy development process. The results are used as the basis for three in-depth case studies of core public sector agencies. The conclusions are that while the Act is an important instrument of accountability, the success of the Act in enabling more effective participation is not so clear. While information is more readily obtainable, technocratic officials and Ministers keen to control information impact on the ability of citizens to participate. It is concluded that for the Act to be of maximum benefit education of officials and a loosening on the control of information will be needed.