Investigation completed into Callaghan Innovation
Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier has completed his investigation into the way Callaghan Innovation handles Official Information Act requests.
Mr Boshier says the Callaghan inquiry was one of eight self-initiated investigations into OIA practice conducted across the public sector in the past financial year.
"The aim of these investigations is to determine whether agencies have the leadership, culture, systems, policies and procedures in place to support good official information administration and to suggest improvements."
Mr Boshier says he did not identify any conduct by Callaghan in its administration of Official Information Act requests that was wrong, unreasonable or contrary to law.
"A generally positive culture exists around the importance of the OIA, and organisational transparency."
"Staff generally have a good understanding of the importance of the Act but this needs to be regularly reinforced by senior leaders."
"There is also a need for more targeted training for staff and improvements to recordkeeping."
Mr Boshier launched his investigation into Callaghan Innovation in October in part due to claims from the Taxpayers Union that it had used fictitious identities to make Official Information Act requests because it considered the crown agency had given its queries lower priority.
"During the course of my investigation, the Taxpayers Union advised me that it held information to suggest its requests to Callaghan were treated ‘differently’ to others."
"I took this allegation extremely seriously. An agency’s response should not be influenced by who made the request. "
Mr Boshier says his investigative team considered all the evidence.
"They spoke to Callaghan staff and carefully examined Callaghan’s response times to the Taxpayers’ Union, comparing them with those given to other individuals and organisations. They also spoke directly with the Taxpayers’ Union. I found the Taxpayers’ Union’s concerns were not borne out by my review of Callaghan’s actions.
Mr Boshier says the issue of requesters using fictitious names has been well canvassed.
"I have expressed concern about this practice in the past and I have not changed my mind about it. Even though it is not unlawful, I still think it is a shame that requesters feel they need resort to fictitious names when requesting information."
The investigation report is available here.