1. Government Departments mis-managing building programmes:
We have written about how the Ministry of Health has completely mismanaged the building of new buildings at CDHB. If you think this is unusual then read this article. It’s about how the Ministry of Education has then same level of ineptitude. This time over the rebuild of Christchurch Girls High.
2. How the Government Departments delay OIA requests:
In a recent Tuesday Club notes I printed out an OIA I sent to the Minister of Health’s office. They have started the game of delay. So, here’s the sequence:
Firstly, I received this:
Please be advised that after careful consideration, I have decided that the information requested is more closely associated with the functions and responsibilities of the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, I am transferring your request to the Ministry of Health under section 14(b)(ii) of the Official Information Act 1982.
You have the right, under section 28 of the Act, to ask the Ombudsman to review this decision to transfer your request for information.
So, I replied:
This is a nonsense, delaying response. I don’t care where the information comes from, your office or MOH. I requested under the OIA for some info under the Act. Your task is to ensure that it comes from the MOH inside the timescale required under the Act.
I consider your response unacceptable
Then I received this:
I can confirm that the Ministry is currently servicing your request received 5 October 2020 and will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible, and no later than 3 November 2020 being 20 working days after the day your request was received. If we are unable to respond to your request within this timeframe, we will notify you of an extension of that timeframe.
…and I replied:
Thank you for your email.
I am not impressed how my original email was delayed in the Minister’s office and then, nearly at the end of the time when the reply was required to be produced, it was handed on to the same section of Government, only in another building. You will then write to me saying that you have not had sufficient time to find the documents, and delay my request even longer.
This sort of nonsense is exactly what annoys people about the public sector. Delay. Obfuscate. Refuse to give essential information. Resist any issues raised by the Ombudsman. All standard behaviour which is completely outside the spirit of the Official Information Act.
Please read the Act and the purpose of why it exists.
Then I received this from the Ombudsman’s office:
I refer to your recent emails with Catherine Pearson of the Minister of Health’s office, as copied to Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier.
This Office is unable to assist with your concerns about the Minister’s decision to transfer your request to the Ministry of Health. This is because the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) does not give an Ombudsman authority to consider complaints about the transfer of an OIA request.
An Ombudsman can therefore only consider concerns about the transfer of an OIA request under the Ombudsmen Act 1975. However, Ministers of the Crown are not subject to that Act.
While the Chief Ombudsman cannot assist with this particular matter, if you are dissatisfied with the Ministry’s decision on your request then it is open to you to approach this Office again. You can do so by completing our online complaint form.
Please note that for the purposes of the OIA, your request is considered to have been ‘received’ by the Ministry on the date that it was transferred to them, re-starting the maximum timeframe for making and communicating a decision. You should therefore expect a response from the Ministry on or before 25 November 2020 (unless you are advised of an extension).
The basic issue with this is the bullshit behaviour by the minister’s office which delayed things until after the election. When the election was over and it was safe, they booted it over to the MOH. Reading the ruling by the Ombudsman’s office this seems to be part of how things get moved around, weakening the level of accountability. Just delaying tactics. It’s all a game for the people in Wellington. We, the public, are mere onlookers to their game. Sooner or later they will realise I learnt the craft of OIA’s from Cam Preston….
The more I review documents, and talk to people about what happened at CDHB, the more I am convinced that there is systemic failure in Wellington Government Departments. That’s my goal right now. To prove it. I don’t care how long it takes.