Chief Ombudsman to review OIA compliance

August 28th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Chief will launch an investigation into the way the Official Information Act is being used after the election and will include a probe into ministerial offices as part of the inquiry. …

Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem said issues which would be examined included government departments having to seek “sign off” from their ministers before releasing information when there was no reason to do so.

She said there was “excessive reference upwards for approval” to release information when there was no good reason for doing so. …

“I have observed unnecessary steps and referrals upwards. I have heard of at least five layers of approval before something can be released. That’s absurd.”

She said the unnecessary upwards delays included referrals to ministers for approval to release information. There were also offices which had “delayed things beyond what is reasonable” while others did “incredibly well”.

“There’s actually fundamentally nothing wrong with the Act. What is wrong is the execution.

I think this is very welcome, regardless of who is in Government. Some sensitive material will always involve informing the Minister’s office under no surprises, but there probably is too many layers and hoops to go through.

I actually support amending the so all Cabinet level documents get released proactively after say six months, even if not requested.

Dame Beverley, who is president of the International Ombudsman Institute, said she had been tempted to publish a league table of best-to-worst agencies, as other bodies did abroad.

“We haven’t resorted to that in New Zealand but each day that goes by it becomes more tempting.” She said the framework of the inquiry had been completed and it would be launched in the next few months.

They should. In the absence of official stats, bloggers such as No Right Turn compile their own league tables. But would be better to have official ones.

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4 Responses to “Chief Ombudsman to review OIA compliance”

  1. jackinabox (781 comments) says:

    Just in case you don’t know my opinion of the Chief Ombudsman.

    http://bcops.wordpress.com/what-does-the-word-ombudsman-actually-mean/

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  2. publicwatchdog (2,516 comments) says:

    Check out the website for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC).

    It spells out the difference between their role, as impartial and apolitical public servants vs the role of the politically partial, highly political Office of the Prime Minister, whose primary job is to cover Prime Minister John Key’s butt as LEADER OF THE NATIONAL PARTY.

    There is simply no way the party political Office of the Prime Minister should be having ANYTHING to do with OIA requests/replies or the SIS – end of story.

    It is my considered opinion, that the Office of the Prime Minister, whose unregulated role is not set in statute, is completely out of control.

    Penny Bright

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  3. Newbie (44 comments) says:

    Slightly off topic, but can anyone make an OIA request to obtain emails of certain government employees?

    eg, an inspector, consents staff, etc or whoever govt official you may have been dealing with, and you want to know what they have been saying to other people (eg superiors, co-workers) with regard to your case.

    Ta.

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  4. publicwatchdog (2,516 comments) says:

    Request all information held on your file or about you under the Privacy Act.

    Google the Privacy Act and read it for yourself.

    If you don’t know your rights – you don’t have any!

    Cheers!

    Penny Bright

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