From CompliNEWS | Financial Service Intelligence Watch

Information Regulator introduces online portal for PAIA annual reports submission for public and private bodies

The Information Regulator, a critical body established under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) of 2013, has taken a significant step towards improving compliance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) of 2000. In its ongoing efforts to ensure that both public and private entities uphold the right to information, the Regulator has launched an online portal for the submission of annual reports concerning access to information requests.

Under sections 32 and 83(4) of PAIA, Information Officers (IOs) from public bodies and Heads of Private Bodies (HPBs) along with Deputy Information Officers (DIOs) are mandated to annually report on their handling of requests for access to records. This process, crucial for maintaining transparency and accountability, has been streamlined with the introduction of the new online submission system.

Key Dates and Procedures

The portal will become operational starting 1 May 2024, and will remain open until the deadline on 30 June 2024. Registration is essential: IOs, HPBs, and DIOs must be registered with the Regulator to use the portal. Comprehensive support and a detailed guide for registration and submission are available on the Regulator’s eServices Portal and website.

The move to an online system is expected to facilitate a more efficient, user-friendly submission process, reducing administrative burdens and improving compliance rates. It also serves to centralise and secure the management of data, making it easier for the Regulator to monitor and enforce compliance with PAIA’s provisions.

For assistance or further information, entities can reach out directly to the technical support team or specific advisory staff at the Information Regulator. Additionally, various resources such as the PAIA manual templates and guidelines on electronic information provision are accessible to ensure that bodies are well-prepared to fulfill their legal obligations.

This development marks a notable advancement in the Regulator’s mission to ensure that the rights to access information are respected and facilitated across all sectors. By bolstering the mechanisms for reporting and compliance, the Information Regulator reinforces its commitment to transparency and the rule of law.

Read the Full release by The Information Regulator here

Heads of Private Bodies (HPBs) are typically the senior executives or managers responsible for the overall operations of private entities within the context of South African law, particularly in terms of compliance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). These individuals are tasked with ensuring that their organisations adhere to the legal requirements concerning access to information held by the body.

In the structure of PAIA compliance:

  • HPBs are analogous to the Information Officers (IOs) in public bodies.
  • They have statutory responsibilities to facilitate access to information requests by members of the public.
  • HPBs are required to oversee the processing of these requests and ensure that their organisations respond appropriately and in a timely manner.
  • They also play a critical role in the preparation and submission of annual reports to the Information Regulator, detailing how information requests have been handled.