NSW Office of the Board of Studies needs a lesson in FoI

For a standout example of what is wrong with freedom of information in New South Wales you cannot go past the Ombudsman's new report into the Office of the Board of Studies.

Over 120 pages the deputy Ombudsman, Chris Wheeler, has shredded the office over its handling of freedom-of-information applications made by former students seeking details of the standardised marking system that determines the marks 67,000 students are awarded each year in the higher school certificate exams.

Wheeler was called in by students in 2007 to resolve a dispute that goes back to 2001, when a new HSC was introduced and several students tried to find out their actual, or raw, marks. His starting point reflects the fundamental reason we have freedom-of-information laws: a belief that open access to information is the best way to ensure systems work as intended...

The Ombudsman described the office's behaviour as "adversarial, defensive, combative, obfuscatory, technical, legalistic, unco-operative as well as being in breach of the law."

People, not laws, block freedom of information (Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October, 2009)