Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ombudsman - public sector could do better

OIA requests to the Ministry of Social Development are now never met within the required maximum  20 working day time limit. A notification of an extension is received. And then sometimes a second extension. Complaining to the Ombudsman is a waste of time.

Or is it....

I decided to write to the State Services Commission and ask about average response times to OIA requests and how MSD compared to other departments . This resulted in the SSC referring my letter to other departments eg Education and Health. But SSC also advised me to write to the Ombudsman who, while not subject to the OIA, might provide information on complaints received about MSD.

That is what I did.

The Ombudsman duly obliged and told me that 110 complaints had been received against MSD in the 2013 financial year. 62 were about delays.

On its own that doesn't mean very much. But then I received a letter from MSD (the one that had been passed on to them from SSC) refusing my request for information about average response times. However they did tell me that in the 2013 financial year they had received 482 requests.

Context then shows that the complaint rate against MSD is quite high. 482 requests and 110 complaints.And this happens even when many people consider complaining to the Ombudsman a waste of time.

Anyway, there is good news.

The Ombudsman finished:

You may also be interested to know that the Chief Ombudsman is intending to conduct a wider administrative investigation into concerns that the broader public sector is not managing requests for information under the OIA as well as it should.

Perhaps a better public service target is required.

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