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Investigation To Maintain Confidence In Integrity

Department Investigation To Maintain Confidence In Integrity

The Department of Labour has begun an investigation into the Immigration Service’s handling of official information on the Zaoui case.

New Chief Executive, Dr James Buwalda says he is committed to maintaining high standards of public service conduct, and confidence in the integrity of the Department’s Services.

“I am concerned that the allegations as reported, if left unchallenged, may undermine confidence in the integrity of my Department and the wider public service. I want to ensure the matter is dealt with openly and promptly, to remove any public doubt about what happened and deal with any outstanding issues,” says Dr Buwalda.

The internal investigation follows this week’s media reports on Immigration Service responses to the Ahmed Zaoui detention in December 2002.

Dr Buwalda says that as Chief Executive he is responsible for standards of behaviour and conduct across the Department.

“I have asked the Department’s chief auditor, who reports directly to me, to undertake the investigation and see if there are any implications for the rest of the Department.”

The investigation will cover the way information relating to the Zaoui case was managed in terms of appropriate public service behaviour, policies and systems.

Dr Buwalda says he is seeking answers as soon as possible, and has asked the internal auditor to advise him on the likely timeframe by the end of this week.

“I have assured the Minister, the State Services Commissioner and the Ombudsman that I intend to clear up what happened very quickly, and to act on it in a way which maintains confidence in the public service.

“I am mindful that we also have obligations in terms of security under the Immigration Act.”

Dr Buwalda says comment on this matter is being handled through his office, but Ian Smith, the Immigration Service media adviser at the centre of the allegations, is continuing his usual duties.

James Buwalda, formerly CE of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, started as Chief Executive of the Department of Labour earlier this month. The New Zealand Immigration Service is a unit of the Department of Labour.

Attached: Questions to be addressed in the investigation

Investigation into the Department of Labour’s management of information in relation to the Zaoui case

1 Was there a conspiracy to deceive amongst officials in relation to the Zaoui case?

2 Was information managed by the Department in relation to the Zaoui case in accordance with the Official Information Act? If not, why not?

3 In the Zaoui case, were the Department's policies and systems for managing official information appropriate and effectively applied?

In relation to the Zaoui case, were the Department’s expectations of appropriate public service conduct and behaviour clear and upheld?

Are there any implications from this situation for the Department’s practices and policies relating to standards and behaviours expected of public servants?

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