web analytics
The Standard

NRT: Overstretched

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, July 2nd, 2014 - 9 comments
Categories: accountability, democracy under attack, Politics - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn.

The Office of the Ombudsman issued its Statement of Intent yesterday, setting out what they plan to do over the next five years. we’ve been hearing a lot recently about how the office is failing to deal with the deluge of complaints it must now handle, and the Statement of Intent confirms it. Here’s their projected performance targets for handling OIA complaints:

ombudsman-oia-targets

Spot the difference: their budget target – on which their budget is based – underestimates demand by 75% or more. It’s a similar story for Ombudsman’s act complaints: they have a target of 8,000 contacts/complaints a year, and they’re actually dealing with 11,000. Which is why people are waiting years to have their complaints resolved. Further down they note that

there is a risk we will not be able to meet stakeholder expectations of the time taken to complete the complaints and other contacts we receive.

Timeliness is often critical to complainants and significant failures in this regard carry the risk that people will choose not to turn to us or, if they do, the outcomes we can achieve will not be relevant, useful or appropriate.

No shit. OIA requests are often highly time sensitive. If you have to wait two to five years to get an effective response, there’s simply no point asking. And that has unpleasant implications, not just for transparency, but for confidence in our system of government overall.

But its not just complaint-handling which is underfunded. The Ombudsman also has a vital role in inspecting places of detention to ensure that detention conditions are humane. And there the targets are similarly dismal. They have a target that only 80% of their recommendations in this area are accepted. Given that these are recommendations to end inhumane treatment, I’d expect that target to be 100%. Then there’s this:

There are also approximately an additional 130 aged care facilities with dementia units that may fall within our designation in respect of health and disability places of detention. If so, we would need to seek additional funding in order to conduct regular inspections of these facilities.

Yes, they’re not even funded to inspect every class of detention facility – which means inhumane treatment may be going undetected and uncorrected.

These are serious problems. And the root cause behind most of them seems to be underfunding. The Ombudsman is our watchdog against the government. If we want it to do that job effectively, its needs to be funded properly. But what politician would ever want to do that?

9 comments on “NRT: Overstretched”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    What would it take to set up an independent trust to provide enough income for these officers to do their jobs properly?

    Any future solutions must be Tory-proof.

    • Tracey 1.1

      A PPP? ??

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        More like a charity.

        • Tracey 1.1.1.1

          A charity that gives to a crown entity to pay for salaries? Oh, I know, the national party does charitable work, they do golf days to raise money. Is that the kind of thing you mean OAB?

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1

            No, not really.

            An independent body set up with so much dosh it can live off the interest.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      Make it a treasonous act that comes with a minimum 21 years in jail for the entire government if it tries to defund it.

      Thing is, I’m sure that some National led government still try it anyway. Quick way to have a snap election 😈

  2. Tracey 2

    Govtdepts and councils know how stretched they are so if you get too close to something they dont want you to get, they throw out a reason and tell you if you dont like it to go the ombudsmen. They know it will take years.

    I tell the ombudsmen it is something needed for litigation and give them hearing dates. It makes no difference.

    The weathertight tribunal is very lax on councils discovery obligations leaving some clients no where to go.

  3. Penny Bright 3

    Ok – here’s the simple solution. Make the Office of the Ombudsman responsible for the implementation of the Public Records Act 2005 – instead of the National Office of the Archives. If full and accurate public records were created and maintained – and made publicly available for public scrutiny – then there would arguably a lot less work for the Office of the Ombudsman in dealing with complaints about failings in the provision of official information. How can you have transparency and accountability without proper written records? The implementation of the Public Records Act in a full and thorough way is an absolute priority for a genuinely ‘open, transparent and accountable’ NZ at local and central government level and judiciary.

  4. Mike the Savage One 4

    This explains it all to me. I have made some own OIA requests to some government departments or agencies, and they were not satisfactory, and in some cases took far too long. Hence a couple of complaints went to the Ombudsman, and are still there, after a very long time.

    Also have I heard that the quality of Ombudsman Office decisions themselves has suffered, indicating that they do not seem keen on dealing with certain complaints, and they use discretion and all kinds of reasons to not investigate some complaints from “common” citizens or residents. A re-prioritising process leads to only very serious complaints being dealt with.

    This is in my view intentional, and the government keeps a tight grip on their purse strings, leaving Ombudsman, same as certain Commissioners and their staff, to struggle with work loads they cannot cope with.

    It is clear to many out here, that the increase of complaints can at least partly be blamed on the government and their various departments making more mistakes, on them failing in performance and duties, and so forth. Also have law changes led to more complaints, questioning the fairness of implementation and consequences that come with them.

    So much for the National Party led government’s “better public service”! This is part of the price for it.

    Democracy, justice and fairness are being denied in increasing cases, and with lack of transparency and insufficient investigations and recommendations delivered by the Ombudsman, this country is being run like an ever more “authoritarian” kind of state.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Forestry death guilty plea proves case for reform
    A logging company’s guilty plea over the death of one of their workers proves the need to strengthen health and safety laws, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. Charles Finlay was killed in July 2013 when he was… ...
    20 hours ago
  • Daughter for the Return Home
    Christchurch East MP Poto Williams who hails from the Cook Islands, will be returning this week as part of the Cook’s celebrations on becoming self-governing 50 years ago.  Her family background is connected to the northern Cooks, the islands of… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Tiwai Point welcomed but strategy needed
    The  news that Tiwai Point Aluminium smelter will remain open is good news for the 800 workers at the plant and the people of Southland, but points to a need for a comprehensive regional development strategy, Opposition leader Andrew Little… ...
    1 day ago
  • Stalled TPP chance for wider discussion
    Failure to get the TPP agreement across the line gives New Zealanders an opportunity to put more pressure on the Government not to sign away our sovereignty, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“New Zealand land, dairy and medicines are up for… ...
    3 days ago
  • Will poor TPP dairy outcome stop National selling out our homes?
    After failing to protect the right to stop foreign speculators buying our houses it’s clear the Government is not going to get wins on dairy in their TPP negotiations either, Labour’s Trade and Export spokesperson David Parker says. “Labour has… ...
    4 days ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Feeling aspirational
    Yesterday the Rich List showed the number of people who have over 50 million of wealth had increased by another 15 people since last year. Collectively this group are now worth 55 billion, an increase of over 7% since last… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • Bennett’s legacy a test for Tolley
    Former Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has been thrown under the bus by her successor after its been suggested that Ms Bennett gave the green light to an ‘unethical’ observational study of high-risk children, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.… ...
    4 days ago
  • Submission to Greater Christchurch Earthquake Recovery: Transition to Rege...
    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Draft Transition Recovery Plan on behalf of the New Zealand Labour Party.  It is important that the citizens of Canterbury have a voice in the governance of the next step of… ...
    4 days ago
  • Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm
    The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to… ...
    5 days ago
  • Troubled school wanted $25,000 dollars to fence farm
    The troubled Whangaruru charter school asked Hekia Parata for $25,000 to fence the school farm at the expense of spending on teaching, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This unbelievable revelation comes hard on the heels of Hekia Parata’s decision to… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act
    In 2010, National rammed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill through Parliament. Paul Quinn’s Member’s Bill existed because Paul Quinn thought anyone who’d been imprisoned was a serious offender, and serious offenders had ‘forfeited’ their right to vote.… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    5 days ago
  • Mainfreight ‘appalled’ by Government’s rail madness
    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    6 days ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    6 days ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    6 days ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    6 days ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    7 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    7 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    7 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    1 week ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    1 week ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    1 week ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere