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Ombudsman report ignores whistle-blower and key allegations

Responding to the report published this afternoon, the Taxpayers’ Union’s Jordan Williams says:

“While the Ombudsman’s report makes no criticism of the Taxpayers’ Union, it has totally ignored key aspects his Office had committed to investigating: alleged actions of Callaghan Innovation in 2016/2017.”

“We had an internal whistle blower at Callaghan Innovation approach us alleging that our requests under the OIA were being treated differently through 2016 and early 2017. But the investigation has limited the timeframe to information requests filed in late 2017 and 2018.”

“The reports from the whistle-blower led us to file requests under pseudonyms. When we used pseudonyms in 2017 and 2018 we didn’t have the same troubles getting requested information.”

“The Ombudsman repeats his opinion that the use of pseudonyms to make OIA request should only be when ‘good reason’ exists. If having a staffer within a Government agency telling you your requests are being singled out is not ‘good reason’ what the heck is? But the Ombudsman’s report does not even mention the whistle-blower or the fact his staff met with this person.”

“Now that the Ombudsman’s Office has had the opportunity to speak to our whistle-blower they fully understand why our actions were justified.”

“Of course we welcome the Ombudsman’s overall conclusion that Callaghan’s more recent information request responses have generally complied with the Act. But to use subsequent compliance with the Act, to conclude that our concerns from an earlier period (based on what a senior Callaghan Innovation official had reported to us) do not bare out, is getting close to playing Nelson’s blind eye.”

“We note that two-thirds of stakeholders surveyed by the Ombudsman agreed that Callaghan Innovation is ‘least open’ when compared to other central government agencies. Clearly Callaghan Innovation needs to do better.”

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