Collins on ACC and privacy

August 13th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Minister wants the state insurer to start sacking staff who breach a new “zero tolerance” policy on breaches.

A furious Ms Collins has revealed her astonishment at the failure of ACC to include privacy among nine of its “top priorities”.

“I’m not going to sit back and let one of the most important government entities [that] we have let people down time and time again around things such as privacy.

“They have to act in the way that I expect them to act. When I go around the branches, most of the people there absolutely understand it.

“But, actually, a few are letting them down and when we have things like the audit and risk committee having nine priorities for the year and not one of them [being] privacy, how can that be acceptable given everything else that’s going on?”

Ms Collins’ comments come as figures from ACC show 11 staff members have been reprimanded over “serious misconduct” since 2010.

The breaches involved: theft; fraud against ACC or a claimant; serious misuse of ACC property, including information and systems; dishonesty; disobeying a lawful and reasonable instruction from a manager; and any act that had the potential to bring ACC into disrepute.

Nine staff were sacked as a result of the breaches and two were given final written warnings.

Ms Collins said while the serious misconduct cases were “a shame”, she was pleased they were taken seriously and not covered up. “I think that they need to be – and they are now – taking on a culture of zero tolerance to privacy breaches, in particular,” she said.

Police had a “zero tolerance” approach to staff accessing private details about people without good reason.

“People lose their jobs over it, and that’s something that I think ACC needs to have, which is that we have people’s very personal information, we should treat it with respect and should understand it’s a very privileged position.”

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15 Responses to “Collins on ACC and privacy”

  1. Paulus (2,626 comments) says:

    Good on Crusher Collins. Of course her comments will upset some in ACC – maybe does not suit their purpose.

    I sometimes wonder whether there are serious political forces working at ACC HQ.

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  2. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    mmmm. I remember in the late 1990’s the public service (rather some elements) was leaking like a seive. It then generally stopped after the 1999 election. Labour went further and had those suspected of potential traitors not given jobs or got rid of. For example as Annette King put in her infamous letter to Mr Tranter, DHB’s were there to implement party policy.

    Judith has every right to be angry – having walked into a minefield not of her making.

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  3. tvb (4,418 comments) says:

    The minister is absolutely correct here. I am fabbergastered they have not addressed the issue of privacy and the management of confidential information.

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  4. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    I’d like to see the ‘nine top priorities’.

    I sometimes wonder whether there are serious political forces working at ACC HQ.

    This organsiation has been a political football for decades. Having consulted to ACC a couple of times, my impression is there is a front and an active, if subtle, idological battle being waged.

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  5. Flyer (22 comments) says:

    Isn’t the Audit and Risk committee a Board committee? Sounds like more directors need to go if they can’t understand something so fundamental.

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  6. simonway (387 comments) says:

    Is she saying that any privacy breach should result in a sacking? Or just that there should be consequences for any breach, with dismissal used for major/serious breaches?

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  7. somewhatthoughtful (465 comments) says:

    Typical all show no go. It must be hard having to defend someone who is so disappointing.

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  8. peterwn (3,271 comments) says:

    simonway – she is pretty well saying any privacy breach should result in a sacking. In reality each instance should be individually assessed eg accessing info on behalf of a relative where that relative could have OIA’d it should be dealt with by a stiff warning. Police and IRD are very tough on privacy and have fought hard for sackings in the employment court. Note in particular that IRD, unlike ACC has not had any significant privacy ‘blow-up’s’. If IRD can do it, why not ACC?

    Flyer – Judith is announcing major ACC board changes soon. Just why the existing Board has not got the message is beyond me.

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  9. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    So Collins thinks, rightly in my opinion, that privacy breaches should lead to sackings. In that case, Paula Bennett should be sacked for breaching the privacy of Natasha Fuller and another beneficiary. Can’t have one standard for ACC workers and a lower standard for Ministers or MPs. Indeed, Ministers and MPs should be leading by example, which means we should expect the highest standards from them.

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  10. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Collins is right here and it is astounding that the Board has not addressed the terms of reference for its A&R subcommittee post the shambles of a few months ago. This is a direct shot across the bows of the Board rather than the management team and is has been fired in exactly the right direction.

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  11. joe bloggs (126 comments) says:

    @Ross69 12.23pm:

    you’d do well to recall Matthew Hootton’s words at the time:

    Ms Bennett presented relevant facts to the public, drew attention to the extraordinary generosity of the New Zealand welfare state, and was upfront and honest to the extent that the more genuine of the two women involved, Jennifer Johnston, is now working with the government to improve the support available for sole parents wanting to retrain.

    From 1999, Helen Clark had no intention of enduring the same criticism. Instead of releasing personal information honestly and facing the consequences, her regime’s solution was, as usual, to lie, leak and smear.

    Thus, personal information on Police Commissioner Peter Doone was obtained by Ms Clark, probably illegally, and leaked to the media.

    False allegations about Erin Leigh, who raised concerns about political interference in Ms Clark’s Ministry for the Environment, were trundled out by Trevor Mallard under the cover of parliamentary privilege.

    Ms Dalziel – oh so noble in her defence of Mr McKeown’s privacy – smeared a young Sri Lankan rape victim by leaking her personal file and then lying about it.

    Oh and not forgetting that Ms Fuller promoted her personal information through Labour’s PR machine in 2007

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  12. RRM (9,917 comments) says:

    Joe Bloggs –

    So you agree with Ross, the same standard should apply to MPs?

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  13. Hamnida (905 comments) says:

    One of Nationals more competent Ministers.

    Best: Finlayson and Collins.

    Worst: Coleman and Parata.

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  14. wreck1080 (3,905 comments) says:

    ACC and social welfare were designed for a society that no longer exists.

    ’nuff said.

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  15. Johnboy (16,516 comments) says:

    Sack the lot of them and bloody well privatise it Judith! :)

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