The ICO Annual Return process allows the Information Commissioner to monitor public authorities’ compliance with the requirement to publish their annual PATI statistics, an Information Statement and other information, such as gazetting contracts for good or services with a total value of $50,000 or more. Public authorities may share any steps they have taken to make their information more accessible to the public.

The ICO Annual Return also enables the Information Commissioner to provide guidance to specific public authorities to bring themselves into compliance. If necessary, the Information Commissioner may exercise enforcement authority.

ICO 2023 Annual Return Form
ICO Annual Return Guidance (Nov 2023)
ICO Information Statement Guidance (March 2023)
ICO Compliance Enforcement Policy and Handbook (September 2023)

Public authorities’ submissions, about their handling of PATI requests in each calendar year, are collated by the ICO. The relevant data is reported in the Commissioner’s Annual Report, which is tabled before Parliament by 31 March each year.

Q: In the annual return form, the date fields do not show in English. What can I do?

A: If the calendar fields show in an unknown language, you can still type the date into the box, and it will show in English. Take these steps:

1) Highlight the date field. Hit ‘Backspace’ or ‘Delete’ on your keyboard.

2) Type the date. Please use DAY MONTH YEAR format.

3) Hit ‘Tab’ on your keyboard or use your mouse to click anywhere besides the date box.

Still not working? Call the ICO on 543-3700 and ask for Sheena Bassett.

Or download the updated ‘ICO 2023 Annual Return package’ and start again. We updated the form to fix the language issue with the date fields.

Q: When do we need to gazette the contract: once engaged or once paid?

A: It depends. If the total value is known at the time of engagement (e.g., for a consultant’s agreement or a lease), you must gazette it once engaged. If the total value is known only once the service is delivered, you may gazette it once paid; and if it extends beyond a year, you must gazette the actual paid value at the end of each calendar year.

Q: We have rented the same location for the past 12 years and extended the lease twice since the original lease period. For this year’s gazette notice, do we need to give the cumulative total from when the lease started 12 years ago? Or is it fine to only give the total annual value for the current lease period?

A: As long as you have accurately gazetted the lease terms and actual values paid under the original and prior extensions, you may reset the total value to represent the current lease period. You should list your prior gazette notice IDs at the end of this year’s notice, so it is plain to the public how you had already publicly reported on the earlier contract years.

Q: For the past five years, we engaged the same vendor for the same service. For our budget purposes, we preferred to enter a new contract each fiscal year. Technically, each contract value was below the $50,000 threshold. Still though, we have paid the same vendor a total of $100,000 within the past five years. How should we understand the contract gazetting requirement in this case?

A: If by year 3 the cumulative value exceeded $50,000, then the threshold was met in year 3, and a gazette notice was due in year 3. You must now prepare a gazette notice on the terms and total amount paid for each contract as well as the total value paid to-date under these five consecutive contracts.