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Improved systems for handling Official Information

Improved systems for handling Official Information

The Minister of Labour and Immigration Paul Swain has welcomed the Secretary of Labour's report on his response to recommendations made by the Ombudsman for the handling of Official Information Act requests.

Mr Swain requested the report from Dr James Buwalda on February 26 2004 when the Ombudsman released his investigation into an Official Information Act complaint involving the New Zealand Immigration Service.

"The report shows Dr Buwalda has taken several steps, including the development of new policy for managing official information, the commissioning of an independent audit of quality improvement projects within the Immigration Service, and a reorganization of the structure of the Department's Leadership Team," says Mr Swain.

"The Ombudsman has congratulated Dr Buwalda on the official information policy, and commented that staff in the Ombudsman's office believe it is one of the best they have seen."

"I welcome Dr Buwalda's response and I am pleased with the urgency he has shown in acting to improve the Department of Labour's systems for handling Official Information."

"Processing OIA requests are to be regarded as a core part of departmental business, and the department's leadership team will be accountable for ensuring the policy is complied with."

In addition to the new policy, Dr Buwalda has commissioned Audit New Zealand to carry out an independent external audit of the various quality improvement projects underway within the New Zealand Immigration Service, to identify any areas that need strengthening or gaps that need addressing.

"This audit will be complete by 30 April, when Dr Buwalda will present a further report to me."

Dr Buwalda has also announced a new structure for the department's leadership team, to create a more co-ordinated, whole-of-department approach.

"This reorganisation will improve coordination across the whole of the department."

Mr Swain has also been advised by the Secretary of Labour that disciplinary investigations have been initiated in relation to employment issues raised by the Ombudsman's report.

Ian Smith, identified in the Ombudsman's report, is no longer employed by the Department.

"It is important for the public to have confidence in government institutions," says Mr Swain.

"I commend Dr Buwalda and his leadership team for this response to the Ombudsman's report."

ENDS

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