Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Some public servants play games with OIA requests

Office of the Ombudsmen
Te Tari-o-Ngā Kaitiaki Mana Tangata


Media release

Some public servants playing games with OIA requests

The Office of the Ombudsmen is concerned some parts of the public service have been deliberately delaying responses to Official Information requests.

In the office’s Annual Report to Parliament, Chief Ombudsmen Beverley Wakem says the practice is unacceptable and subverts the purpose of the legislation.

Beverley Wakem says the Office has observed an increasing tendency by a few government departments and Ministerial offices to ignore the provisions of the Official Information Act over the timing of responses to requesters.

“While in some cases this was clearly a misunderstanding of their obligations, there is also a regrettable tendency to game the system and delay responses until the complainants’ interest in the matter had passed,” she says.

The Chief Ombudsmen says because of the concerns, the Office has conducted a series of briefings with public sector Chief Executives and representatives of political parties and published guidance material to help improve understanding and practice in this area.

“We hope to see a considerable improvement in how agencies deal with requests and communicate with requesters and we will monitor this.”

The number of complaints received under the OIA increased by 10 percent over the past year to 897.

Beverley Wakem says more requests under the Act will inevitably lead to more requests for an Ombudsman’s investigation and review in the event of refusal, administrative delay or charge.



The Office also notes an increasing complexity in investigations because of information not being documented in an orderly manner or even recorded in writing at all.

Beverley Wakem says there is an urgent need for agencies to pay closer attention to their statutory obligation under the Public Records Act to keep good records.

She also says the Ombudsmen find it troubling that 25 years after the OIA came into force, many government agencies have still not recognised – and responded appropriately – to the fact that dealing efficiently and effectively with requests made under the legislation requires an ongoing programme of training for staff.

She notes that there has been a considerable turnover in agency staff and a loss of institutional knowledge of agency obligations in responding to Ombudsmen’s enquiries.

“In the absence of any other agency assuming responsibility for improving this situation, the Office of Ombudsmen has developed a training programme and is providing workshops on request to help agencies meet their responsibilities under the OIA and other information legislation.”

The legislation includes the Ombudsmen’s Act and the Local Government Office Information and Meetings Act.

“These Acts are fundamental to good governance and to encouraging citizen participation in the democratic process. Observing their requirements is core business for agencies and compliance should not be as burdensome as some agencies make it for themselves because of their lack of knowledge of the legislation,” says Beverley Wakem.

ENDS


Note: The Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsmen is available at www.ombudsmen.parliament.nz. You can request a printed copy by emailing us at office@ombudsmen.parliament.nz.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

SCOOP COVERAGE: CHRISTCHURCH MOSQUES TERROR ATTACK


Gordon Campbell: On Being Australia's Pacific Go-Fers

Inevitably, there was an aspect of ‘what might have been’ about the weekend’s meeting in Canberra between PM Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison. If not for the surprise election result, Ardern would almost certainly ... More>>

 

RNZ: Trades Hall Bombing Case Re-Opened, Evidence Released

The cold case has been reopened and the police have recently revealed more details about the bomb's components - including that it was wrapped in a 1977 edition of The Evening Post. More>>

Safety: Govt Targets Fewer Deaths On The Road

“Most roads deaths and serious injuries are preventable and too many New Zealanders have lost their lives or been seriously injured in crashes that could have been prevented by road safety upgrades,” said Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter. More>>

ALSO:

Pay Rise Delay: Teachers Unions Plan Legal Action Against Novopay

Both of the teachers unions - NZEI and the PPTA - have confirmed they will be taking legal action against Novopay. More>>

ALSO:

Emission Statement: 'Consensus Reached' On Agriculture

Today the Government launched a consultation document, informed by the work of the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC), on how to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme, a key part of the Government’s plan to tackle climate change and reduce New Zealand’s emissions. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On What’s Wrong With Wellington

For many Wellingtonians, it hasn’t been the normal hardships – the workings of central government and the lousy weather – that have recently pushed their tolerance into the red zone. It has been the inability of local government to maintain even the basics. More>>

ALSO:

$1m Compensation Paid: First Gun Ban Event In Christchurch

The Police Minister says the first ever firearms collection event in Christchurch over the weekend was a huge success. But Stuart Nash had concerns about whether the participation reflected the number of weapons in the region. More>>

ALSO:

The Kids: Youth Parliament 2019 Event Kicks Off

120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members have gathered in Wellington to attend the two-day Youth Parliament event ... More>>

ALSO:

Friends Like These: Foreign Minister To Visit USA

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington D.C. today for talks with senior members of the US Administration, and to attend the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Aussie Banks’ Latest Fee Hike Excuse

When the Reserve Bank sought feedback on its plans to require the country’s major banks to raise their capital reserves then you might have expected the banks to whine and complain. And so they have. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels