Thursday, September 27, 2007

requesting official information

In the past couple of months I have sent off two OIA requests to a certain government department.

The first one was not answered within 20 working days and so it went to the Ombudsman. I eventually got a response after 20 days but it wasnt sufficiently answered - i asked them to re-answer two questions and a week later they did - which begs the question, why didn't they do it earlier.

Now my second request, due today, from the same organisation didnt arrive , despite a written reminder last week that it was to be due today (Wednesday). It is now late. I got a call from that organisation today at 4:30pm on my home ansaphone (not my cellphone when I would be more likely to answer it) with a message stating that there is a delay and I`ll get it as soon as possible. I have no idea why there is a delay because the organisation's representative didnt bother to explain that on the message, and I have no idea when as soon as possible is. It is now with the Ombudsman because that phone message breached S15(a)4 of the OIA.

Why do government departments have such a blatant disregard for the OIA and is there anything other than complaining to the Ombudsman that we can do about it?

Have a guess which organisation it is. It wouldn't be hard.


scrubone said...

Children's commissioner?

Seems to be a common thing these days, comes with the attitude of the government I'd say.

Anonymous said...

It is simply the arrogance that we are their servants not the other way round.

When it hurts peoples pockets then it will change.

how about the person responsible having to come down to the ombundsmen's offices as step one.

then explain before before a judge as step two.?

Dave said...

Actually Mike, Government department officials are servants of the Government - hence the term public servant. They follow an Act - the OIA in ths case - that was passed by Parliament.
Your step 1 is vetoed by the formal involvement of the Ombudsman.Step 2 wouldnt be allowed as the minister is responsible for his department but in this case won't be held accountable for the slackness of his officials. If officals were individually accountable for their (in) actions they could be sued in some instances. Prob not a good idea.

It comes down to enforcement of an act of Parliament. We dont do a good job of enforcing acts of parliament in this country because there is no consequences for not doing so.