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Ombudsman praises culture of openness at Greater Wellington

Ombudsman praises culture of openness at Greater Wellington

A report by the Office of the Ombudsman has praised Greater Wellington Regional Council’s “strong culture of openness” in proactively releasing official information, which is further reflected in its focus on meeting information requests within statutory deadlines, which it does almost 100 per cent of the time.

The just-published report, LGOIMA compliance and practice in Greater Wellington Regional Council, is one of a series of investigations by the Ombudsman into councils’ compliance with the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, which governs the release of official information.

The Ombudsman’s investigation covered Greater Wellington’s leadership and culture and, among other things, its organisation, capability, policies and practices in meeting requests for official information.

“We warmly welcome this report. It reinforces our belief that transparency of information benefits everyone by promoting a broader understanding of what we do, generating confidence in public leadership and enabling accountability for performance,” says Greater Wellington chief executive Greg Campbell.

“As a council, we front up. Our organisation’s culture values openness, which manifests itself through proactive publication of a broad range of information, and our processes are geared to respond quickly to requests for information.

“We’ve set ourselves a high bar and enjoyed success in meeting requestors’ needs within formal deadlines almost 100 percent of the time despite the huge pressure generated by a significant increase in the number and complexity of requests.”

This point is echoed in the report, which describes Greater Wellington as having “an established practice of releasing information even when it may not be positive or flattering to the Council.

The strong culture of openness amongst staff, and the evident pride they take in conducting their work with transparency for the benefit of the constituents they serve, doubtlessly drives the Council’s practice of proactively releasing information.”

Mr Campbell added that the report has identified a number of areas in which Greater Wellington can improve its performance. These included more internal promotion of the importance of openness and transparency and the role of the LGOIMA and associated processes in achieving that, and a range of process issues designed to improve record keeping and performance monitoring.

“Greater Wellington is very happy with the outcome of this report, which reflects a strong internal culture in which our people are committed to working for people in the community. We’ll work through it and take every opportunity to improve.”

ENDS

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