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Posts Tagged ‘OIAs’

The right to know: Gerry Brownlee

Posted by on October 15th, 2013

This is the final instalment in the ministerial profiles as part of  The Right to Know series, in which the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests are put under scrutiny.

And we saved, if not the best, one of the worst, till last. Hon Gerry Brownlee, Leader of the House, Minister of Transport, Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission responded to our request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013 with a fairly upfront account.

The redacted spread sheet included in his response allowed my team and I to distil some interesting conclusions. But there are a few caveats. The number of requests responded to after the 20 workings day time limit does not include extended requests as noted in the log. We have treated requests equally if they were late by two days or two months for the purposes of graphing, if you want specific lengths of time please do go and look at the original document.

You’ll also note we haven’t bothered to graph the requestors here although we do give Gerry credit for including some information about these in his spread sheet. We deemed it pointless to try to analyse these due to the lack of differentiation between MPs from political parties which would have made the data highly inaccurate.

So, have a look for yourselves: Feel free to offer rankings/make comparisons in the comments now we have profiled all the Ministers.

In my assessment these results are appalling. Just 34% of the total number of OIAs received were answered within 20 days.

Subtract transfers and extensions and it is still only 54% of all OIAs answered on time!

Bear in mind Mr Brownlee did not provide us with any information in order to differentiate between full release responses, partial releases or declines.

We’ve all read about the trials and tribulations Christchurch residents have had trying to extract information from the EQC, including the proposal of a charge of $24,000 on the Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network of Canterbury (WECAN) for a response to their OIA request.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove intervened and we are still hopeful those community members will get access to what they seek.

But with Ministers like Gerry Brownlee (or any of the 22 others we’ve profiled) setting the example, is it reasonable for Kiwis to think our Government is transparent and accountable? And if not, what do we need to do about it?

Stay tuned folks as this series will be continuing with a look at how our Ministries and Government departments respond to OIA requests coming up next.

I hope you agree that the data contained in these posts is important to build a picture of just how responsive and accountable our government representatives are to lawful requests for information.


The right to know: Bill English

Posted by on October 14th, 2013

The profile of Hon Bill English, Deputy  Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and MP for Clutha-Southland in the Right to know series, will be short and sweet.

As you know my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

Bill English’s response was surely one of the least forth coming we received. Evidently in his office “OIA requests are not filed or categorised in a manner that would enable the information to be easily identified”. The lack of information means we can’t say how many requests Mr English responded to late or simply didn’t respond to.

Bill English is the Minister who has supposedly pushed a transparency and open data agenda within government. He is to be applauded for his work around the Declaration of open and transparent government, which aims to provide a mechanism to release govt data for re-use. Pity his own Ministerial office doesn’t practice what it preaches.

Bill English’s inadequate and even misleading responses to written questions put to him are also deeply concerning. But that will be the subject of another post and watch that space.


The right to know: Tony Ryall

Posted by on October 12th, 2013

As we get to the end of this part of the blog series on the right to know; it’s time to take a look at Hon Tony Ryall, Minister of Health and for State Owned Enterprises.

Tony Ryall responded to our request in a table, as opposed to the redacted spread sheet provided by many of his colleagues. This limits our ability to draw conclusions as we are reliant on the figures the Minister provides rather than raw data. In particular, he left some gaping holes in the table and left us unable to tell how many of his responses were returned late, although he does state that all requests have been responded to!

You’ll note the figures don’t add up, so we have to assume that he has included many of the transferred requests as being responded to within the 20 day time limit imposed by the Act. In the table provided, the Minister has broken the figures down by portfolio but has not entered a figure for responses sent within 20 working days for his State Owned Enterprises portfolio. Since he transferred 18 out of a total 27 responses and extended the time limit for another 7 we can tentatively deduce that he responded to two requests late, without seeking an extension and absolutely no requests were responded to within 20 working days!

Tony Ryall also fronts up to having suggested a charge for the supply of information to one requestor and has provided us with a bit of a breakdown of who those requestors were.

 


The right to know: Hekia Parata

Posted by on October 12th, 2013

The next Minister to be profiled in the Right to know series is Hon Hekia Parata, Minister of Education and Pacific Island Affairs.

As did many other respondents, Hekia Parata provided us with a redacted version of the spreadsheet log kept by her office. She also emphasised in her accompanying letter that this “may not be a complete, or accurate, reflection as this would require cross referencing each entry with each individual file…”

Along with uncertainty whether the log is 100% accurate, it is also evident that she regularly responds to requests late with only just over half the total number of responses sent within the 20 day statutory period. Her full response can be found here, and is well worth a look.

You’ll find a few, but there is one particularly flagrant example of the Minister’s disregard for the Official Information Act at the bottom of page one where a request from the Research and Advice Team (of an undisclosed organisation) was due on 10 May and actually responded to on 18 June!

I will place a caveat on the 10 requests we have classified as not having been responded to. There were multiple instances of an x appearing in the “Response Date” column which we have assumed to mean that for some reason that entry was not applicable. In some instances the request had been transferred or withdrawn but in other the rationale for the x was not so obvious.

The ten classified as “Not Responded to” however had no entry whatsoever in the ‘Response Date” column but the other columns are complete and as such we think it reasonable to conclude that these requests have not yet been responded to.

On the upside, Hekia Parata did provide some info about requestors:

 


The right to know: Pita Sharples

Posted by on October 10th, 2013

We now take a look at Hon Pita Sharples, Minister of Māori Affairs, Associate Minister of Corrections and Education in the next instalment of The right to know series.

Pita Sharples provided us with a redacted copy of a spreadsheet  providing due dates, dates of response and notes for transferrals, refusals and extensions. We have given him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to extensions as his log does not note the new due date only the date of the extension request and the date of response. In the spirit of generosity we have not included any of these in the number of late responses however it is worth noting that many of the extensions requests were sent late or only just in the nick of time and some transferrals were sent well after the first ten days as stipulated in the Act.

All in all, Pita Sharples record is pretty dismal with 22% of his responses late, another 19% transferred and 17% declined in full! A clear demonstration of lack of regard for the legislation and the importance of transparency in public affairs.

If you are noting that the figures don’t add up, it is due to the withdrawal or “not applicable” status of two of the requests noted. In one last act of generosity I should also acknowledge that three of the late requests were sent by an Acting Minister due to Pita Sharples being overseas.


The right to know: Peter Dunne

Posted by on October 9th, 2013

Despite his changed status in recent times, the Right to Know series will also profile former Minister Peter Dunne’s time as, Minister of Revenue, Associate Minister of Health, and Associate Minister of Conservation in 2012.

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

Peter Dunne responded to my OIA request by providing a figure to each one of my questions, ordered within his respective portfolios. For example to the question, ‘How many of the request were received were responded to within 20 working days?’, the Minister responded ‘Twenty’ in respect to his Revenue portfolio.

While it was useful to see a breakdown of the OIA requests received by each of his portfolios, like a number of other Ministers, such as Simon Bridges, we have to take the Minister’s word that these are the correct figures. This is compared with other Ministers who have provided spread sheets with exact dates that OIA requests were received and responded to.

Peter Dunne’s OIA response track record is relatively good, with the then Minister responding to all OIA requests received in the 20 working day period, excepting from three requests which were granted extensions.

Peter Dunne’s office received a total of 45 OIA requests, 30 were responded to in the 20 working day period, 12 were transferred, and three had the time limit extended.

But while his office may have responded to OIA requests quickly, the figures for the information released are not so positive. Of the 33 requests responded to by Dunne’s office 9 were refused in full, 15 requests were partially refused, and only nine requests were released in full. Unfortunately, this means during his time as Minister, Peter Dunne was not particularly transparent in the releasing of information.Unlike a number of Ministers, Peter Dunne did provide a breakdown of the parties or groups that had requested information. The most requests came from journalists with 14 requests, followed by the Labour Party with four, the Green Party, an undisclosed Party and a blogger with one request each.

 


The right to know: Maurice Williamson

Posted by on October 9th, 2013

Next on the list in the The Right to Know series, is Hon Maurice Williamson, Minister for Building and Construction, Customs, Land Information and Statistics.

Full points are awarded for no late responses as well as the comprehensive response provided to my request. Mr Williamson responded in letter form as opposed to providing a spread sheet which, as previously stated made analysing the data easier but also made it impossible to reach our own conclusions.

Williamson also declined both the parts of the request seeking information about who had made OIA requests of him and which of these were released in full, partially released or fully refused. Without a spreadsheet we can only assume that the log kept by his office does not classify responses other than to note completion and date of response.

So, average marks for his system, good marks for his attitude to the statutory requirements and ultimately another example of the lack of cohesion in Ministers’ approaches to the Official Information Act.

*Background:

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.


The right to know: Nathan Guy

Posted by on October 9th, 2013

The next instalment of The Right to Know series focuses on Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary industries and Racing.

He provided us with a spreadsheet which was reasonably comprehensive. There were some notes which were indecipherable due to the numbering of requests being omitted from the data provided however we are confident these made no difference to the final analysis.

The only caveat I will place on the data below is that I think our analysis was pretty darn generous. The two requests we have classified as “Not Responded to” exclude those in the original information which had “not applicable” noted in the column for response or which had notes identifying them as “transferred requests”. As per usual though, the inconsistencies in record keeping mean that we should state that it is possible these requests were either responded to or transferred but no note was entered.

All up, pretty dismal. Out of 127 requests total only 70 were responded to as specified in the act. Even after subtracting the (rather considerable) number of transferred requests Mr Guy is not responding to 75% of requests in the time frame set by law.

*Background:

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.


The right to know: John Banks

Posted by on October 6th, 2013

As we make our way down the list of government Ministers, this next instalment of The Right to Know series we look at Hon. John Banks, MP for Epsom, Minister for Regulatory Reform, Small Business and Associate Minister of Commerce and Education.

John Banks receives a very special accolade being the only Minister who provided so little information there is no point in producing a graph!

His response included a copy of a spread sheet that informs us of the “status” of each request yet only holds entries saying complete. No dates by which to calculate if they were responded to within 20 days. No transferred requests. No refusals. Therefore, NO GRAPH!

On an interesting note the spread sheet also only lists 59 requests yet Mr Banks states in his letter he received 61, perhaps they are deleted from the log when they are transferred? With what he has provided us we’ll simply never know.

So Banks, as ACT’s sole representative in Parliament, receives the award for the most obfuscating response to our request

Background:  In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.


The right to know: Chris Tremain

Posted by on October 6th, 2013

In this next instalment of The Right to Know series, we look at Chris Tremain, Minister of Internal Affairs and Local Government, Associate Minister of Tourism and MP for Napier.

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

Chris Tremain responded with an A3 size version of his OIA database but declined to specify requests that were granted in full, partially refused or refused in full. In the graph below you will note there is one classified as “Refused in Full” because this was noted in the spread sheet. It is also possible that the three requests classified as not responded to did actually receive a notice of refusal however there is no corresponding response of any kind recorded in the spread sheet.

Equally it is possible that some of the requests  responded to in the correct time frame were declined if the Minister’s office noted refusals as a type of response. As usual, we are working with the data provided and have distilled the best conclusions possible.

All up, a just over 50% hit rate of responding to requests in time. The remaining proportion are about evenly split between being transferred or extended and simply being responded to late or not at all.

A pretty poor response, but one which is tiresomely consistent with most of his colleagues but Chris Tremain does get brownie points for providing data about those who sent OIAs.

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The right to know: John Key

Posted by on October 2nd, 2013

In this next instalment of The Right to Know series we looked at Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Ministerial Services and Minister responsible for the SIS and GCSB.

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, in March we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The Prime Minister responded, as many other recipients did, with a redacted version of a spreadsheet, his full response is here. You will see he declined to provide information about the requestors as it required substantial collation, he did however state that no one has been charged or had a charge suggested for an OIA during the period we asked about.

All in all, John Key’s office appears to be pretty efficient at answering the considerable number of OIAs received, only two responses were late without an extension being requested and these only by a couple of days.

Working through the data though there is a common theme: very few OIAs were responded to before their exact due date including those that had extensions granted.

Amusingly, according to the data provided, the Prime Minister’s office is also able to pre-empt requests having apparently responded to one on 10 August when it wasn’t received until 13 August! It may be a typo and I realise these things can happen, however this raises doubts about the veracity of some of these entries.

There is a very high number of transfers or partial transfers away from the Minister’s office but I will place a caveat on this part of the data. In general (with other Ministers) if it says “transfer” or “transferred” we assume the request was transferred to another Minister or department rather than being answered by the Minister in question, in this case John Key.

Other entries that state the request was transferred from another Minister were not used in our analysis however due to the lack of clarity in the spreadsheet entries I am not 100% confident this interpretation is correct in this instance. We did also look at the dates to try to ensure we were correct in classifying requests as transferred from rather than to but the margin of error is likely increased for this piece of analysis.

Overall, an 8 out of 10 for the Prime Minister and his office. Given the information provided his responses to OIA requests are timely and reasonable, though if the analysis was to look at the content of those responses, the mark out of 10 may be different.

 

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The right to know: Paula Bennett

Posted by on October 2nd, 2013

In this next instalment of The Right to Know series, in which the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act (OIA) requests are put on the spot, we will be looking at Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development and Youth Affairs.

In order to shed light on the transparency of government Ministers, in March, my team sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

Paula Bennett responded to our request with a redacted version of her office’s main spreadsheet, the full response is here. As you can see the information is severely limited in it’s usefulness as we can’t tell which responses were legitimately extended as allowed under the act and which were simply responded to late. As such the below graph must be viewed as more about the complexities of the requests received than about the Minister’s ability or willingness to respond in the spirit of the Act.

Minister Bennett has also declined to provide us with information about those requests she may have transferred or refused, partially or fully. She did however give us a ‘sort of’ answer to our query as to who was making the requests:

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The right to know: Simon Bridges

Posted by on September 28th, 2013

Today is the 10th anniversary of International Right to Know Day. Quite timely in NZ as the lack of transparency by the National Government is increasingly under the spotlight.

In this next instalment of Labour’s “The Right to Know” series, in which the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act requests are put on the spot, we take a look at Hon Simon Bridges, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Labour.

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

Simon Bridges responded to my OIA request by providing a figure to each one of my questions. For example to the question, ‘How many of the request were received were responded to within 20 working days?’ the Minister simply responded ‘four’.

While this makes the Minister’s answer to the question relatively straight forward, it does also mean that we have to take his word on the numbers he has provided, compared with other Ministers who provided spread sheets of when a request was received and when it was responded to, so my team and I could determine how many of the Ministers’ responses were late.

Simon Bridges’ office received a relatively small total of 34 OIA requests, to which 23 were responded to within the 20 working day period. Off the 11 OIA responses that were not completed in the 20 working period, three of these were transferred, four received extensions, and four were late. To be fair, this may reflect the short time in which he has been a  Minister (April 2012).

While four might not seem like a significant number of responses to be late, given that the Minister only received 34 requests this means that over 10% of the Minister’s responses were late.

While Simon Bridges might not seem quite as bad as some of the other Ministers included in previous The Right to Know Posts, his responses speak volumes about a government which has a cavalier and dismissive attitude to requests for information.

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The right to know; Amy Adams

Posted by on September 27th, 2013

Hopefully you’ve noticed a theme by now but just in case here’s the background: my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

Amy Adams, Minister for the Environment and Minister for ICT (and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Associate Minister) responded to our request by simply answering the questions as opposed to providing a redacted copy of a spread sheet. Her response is here and as you can see it does rather limit what we are able to glean from the information.

We will give her credit for honesty in owning up to 14 responses being sent late despite no extension being sought. The 54 responded to within the time limit of 20 days does explicitly exclude those transferred or extended so full credit for not trying to obsfucate that answer.

This openness is in marked contrast to her usual attitude towards publicly available information such as Regulatory Impact Statements (RIS) prepared by the Treasury for the Minister to consider in relation to a Bill.

In particular the two Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill Regulatory Impact statements (here and here) are so heavily redacted they might as well not have been released. And remember, the Minister claimed this Bill was not at all tied to the GCSB Bill yet the with-holdings are done under section 6 a,b and c of the Official Information Act “release of the information would be likely to prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand…” as well as the usual section 9 reasoning of the confidentiality of advice.

To try to access some of the thinking behind the Minister’s views on the TICs Bill, given we were not able to access  the RIS (x2 in full) and given I sat on the select committee trying to make sensible decisions about a new law which gave wide-ranging new powers to the GCSB and the Minister, on 3 September I lodged a series of written questions about the TICS Bill asking about meetings attended and advice received.

On 11 September when these questions were due Adams provided me with a holding answer “I am unable to provide a response at this time and undertake to provide the member with a final response at a later date”

On Thursday 25 September she finally responded. Unfortunately her answers were : “I have numerous meetings with officials and industry and discuss a range of matters at these meetings.”

And “as a result I do not believe it is reasonable or possible to provide the member with a list.”

The only question she answered in full was to refer me to the original two heavily redacted Regulatory Impact Statements which are already publicly available. The full list of questions I asked can be found here, I strongly recommend you go and take a look and look a bit further into the implications of the TICS Bill and how little information the Government is providing about this legislation.

Here is Labour’s minority report on the TICs Bill (from page 7)

 


The right to know: Craig Foss

Posted by on September 26th, 2013

In this next instalment of The Right to Know series, in which the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act requests are put on the spot, we take a look at Hon Craig Foss, Minister of Commerce, Minister of Broadcasting, and Minister for Consumer Affairs.

In order to shed light on the lack of transparency from government Ministers, my team and I have been researching the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

In response to my OIA request, Craig Foss provided a spreadsheet of the dates that OIA request were received by his office, and the date they were responded to, plus any additional information such as the OIA request being transferred or any extensions.

On paper, Craig Foss’s track record appears to be quite good. Out of 86 OIA request received by his office, only six of those responses were after the 20 day rule, and while the majority only just scraped within 20 days, they were still on time never the less.

However, Craig Foss’s response to OIA requests highlights another significant issue: a tendency for Ministers to withhold or heavily redact documents released. Examples of this can be seen in an OIA request from Craig Foss regarding the television channel, ‘TVNZ 7’. In Craig Foss’s response to the request, he states that he has identified four documents that were relevant to the request, but was withholding three of them under section 9 of the Official Information Act. It has become common practice to use section 9 of the Act as an excuse to withhold documents when Ministers do not want to release them.

Of the one document that was provided, much of it was redacted. Of the three pages provided, only two paragraphs were left un-touched. Take a look at the full document here.

It seems that this issue is only getting worse, and if we jump ahead to 2013, the following response from Craig Foss regarding the Television New Zealand and Sky TV joint venture, ‘Igloo’, we can see that the way in which Minister redact information has just become ridiculous.

In his response to the request, Craig Foss supplied three documents, which combined totalled 11 pages. Of these 11 pages only four very small paragraphs remained plus one page that was largely irrelevant to the request.

While Craig Foss responded to the request on time, quite frankly, it wasn’t really worth him replying at all given that nearly all of the documents he provides are blacked out.

Unfortunately, Craig Foss is not alone in this tendency to provide completely blacked out documents to requests under the Official Information Act. It represents a complete disregard of transparency from the government, and can’t help but leaving one wondering what they are trying to hide.

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The right to know: Anne Tolley

Posted by on September 26th, 2013

The seventh post in this series profiles the responses of Hon Anne Tolley to OIA requests. She is the Minister of Police, Corrections and the deputy Leader of the House.

As I have previously outlined, in March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

To be fair to Anne Tolley she has provided us with a fairly comprehensive spread sheet. Her full response is here.  She even included the details of the requestors for the most part.

However, it is clear in her response that following to the 20-day rule is of little concern, particularly in regards to extensions.

You’ll note below that the figures don’t all add up i.e. the number transferred, answered on time, answered late and just plain not answered add up to 139 when she only received 134, this is because even after extended the time limit some requests were still responded AFTER the due date!

Although more than half of all responses were sent late the area of real concern is in the three different incidents where Tolley surpassed extensions by more than 22 days.

Anne Tolley’s personal best was with an OIA requested on 1 November 2012 by the Dominion Post. Initially due on 6 December after a 15 day extension a response was given on 22 January 2013.

Only a mere 83-day wait for a member of the fourth estate.

Any praise I had for Anne Tolley’s organisational competence was undone in our investigations. Her office maintained detailed records and then knowingly ignored time frame requirements. This is inexcusable.

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The right to know: Chris Finlayson

Posted by on September 24th, 2013

In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of Official Information Act (OIA) requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

The inadequacy of some Ministers’ responses is well evidenced by the Hon Chris Finlayson’s  heavily redacted version of a spreadsheet  showing the date requests were received, due and sent and a yes or no for transfers or extensions. Finlayson is Attorney General, Minister for Treaty negotiations, arts culture and heritage and associate Maori Affairs.

Hopefully you are getting your head around this data by now and can already see the pitfalls the lack of information left for us when analysing the spread sheet.

For instance, the only notes the spread sheet contained were 5 requests which had been transferred from Minister Kate Wilkinson, based on the data provided each one of these requests was answered late however we can’t be certain whether date received refers to received by Finlayson’s office or Wilkinson’s in which case the clock is reset when they are transferred.

The graph below is, as always, based on what information we can glean from that provided. Based on Finlayson’s original response he responded to a total of 8 requests (including the 5 transferred from Wilkinson) after the statutory 20 day period without seeking an extension.

A real point to note in this example, and no doubt in others, is the inconsistency and over-simplification of record keeping in many of these Ministers’ offices when it comes to OIA requests. In other countries, where there is greater oversight of compliance with information laws, records would have to be kept which made an exercise such as ours far simpler. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

I’ll also foreshadow that in a post yet to come, when I outline the response (or non-response) from Ministries and departments to similar OIA requests, there was outright refusal to co-operate. Guess which Ministry and Minister refused to provide information on the number of OIA requests to his Ministry?

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The right to know: Jonathan Coleman

Posted by on September 24th, 2013

From one extreme to the other, this is now my sixth post in a series exposing the disregard of our current Government for the Official Information Act and this one is a doozy.

In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

Given Jonathan Coleman’s track record I guess I should be glad he responded at all, suffice to say he wasn’t particularly forthcoming and the following graph comes with a few pre-requisites.

See here for the Ministers raw response, as you can see he has provided us with the bare minimum of dates and no more. So we have had to make a few assertions in our crunching of the numbers.

For a start we have to assume that staff enter the status of a request in the notes column, if a request is transferred or extended. Therefore, all the requests that were not responded to before their due dates and didn’t have transferred in the notes were actually just late.

Towards the end of his spread sheet you’ll note a cluster of requests received in November and due in January, some of which were actually finally responded to in April. These include a request due on 21 December, extended for 15 days on 20 December and eventually responded to on 4 April.

Another assumption was necessary where no date for response has been entered into the spread sheet. There are 10 such entries in the spread sheet dating back to March 2012 and including one where there is no dates entered whatsoever! These entries are shown in the graph below as Not Responded.

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The right to know: Jo Goodhew

Posted by on September 23rd, 2013

This is the fifth post (and part of a series)  on the adequacy of Ministers’ responses to Official Information Act (OIA) requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

This post gives credit where credit is due.

Hon Jo Goodhew, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs and Associate Minister of Health and for Primary Industries gave one of the most complete responses we received in this exercise.

As you’ll see in the graph below her response and the attached spread sheet gave us sufficient data to complete every data set used for each of the previous Ministers.

There is also only one late response noted on her spread sheet and that by three days for a request that was transferred to the Ministry of Health!

And here is the data on the requesters too, which you can see in the raw data of her response was calculated by a staff member in order to answer the question without breaching the privacy of the requesters.

So, full credit to Jo Goodhew for working in the spirit of openness ad transparency, may your example rub off on your colleagues!

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The right to know: Tariana Turia

Posted by on September 20th, 2013

This is the fourth post (and part of a series) resulting from  research into the adequacy of Ministers responses to Official Information Act requests. In March, we sent a request to all Ministers asking for the number of OIA requests received between 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2013, the number transferred, extended, responded to within the 20 working day limit, responded to late or not responded to at all.

The responses we received were mixed; some Ministers were quite forthcoming, while others gave the barest minimum of responses. And two just didn’t respond at all.

In this post I’m going to profile Hon Tariana Turia, Co-Leader of the Māori Party and Minister for Disability Issues, Whanua Ora, Associate Social Development, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Housing.

Minister Turia’s response broke down the number of requests by portfolio, she has not received any requests as Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment.

The graph below shows the total requests received, transferred, extended and refused. Do the sums though and you’ll note that they don’t quite add up, 4 refused, 5 transferred, 11 extended and 25 responded to on time equals 45 not 42. Presumably this means the Minister must have extended and then transferred or refused at least three requests in this time.

Tariana does have to get credit for providing a breakdown of where the requests came from, the graph below is just for your interest, see the raw data of her response for the breakdown by portfolio (you will need the original request to follow it)

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