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

  • Household Living Costs hit poorer Kiwis hardest
    Standards of living for the poorest and most vulnerable New Zealanders are being eroded by rising prices for basic living costs, while National has stood idly by, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Statistics New Zealand data released today is ...
    15 hours ago
  • The clock is ticking
      Labour strongly supports the latest report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to have carbon emission targets set in legislation, carbon budgeting and an independent climate commission says Labour’s spokesperson on Climate Change Megan Woods.  “Dr Jan Wright’s ...
    16 hours ago
  • Public support keeps Healthy Homes Bill on track
    The strong call from the public for warm, dry, healthy rentals has helped the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill to pass its second reading, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    19 hours ago
  • More proof National not delivering for New Zealanders
    The Ministry of Social Development’s latest Household Incomes Report is more hard evidence of the growing poverty in New Zealand, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National claims to be delivering for New Zealanders. This report puts the lie ...
    3 days ago
  • Strong support from medical community for Healthy Homes Bill
    More than a thousand medical professionals, medical students, and other New Zealanders have shown their support for Labour’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour will fund Buller Health Centre
    A Labour Government will fully fund the Buller Integrated Family Health Centre in Westport, confirming its commitment to the people of the West Coast and the role of central government to fund essential public services, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s affordable promise for Auckland more smoke and mirrors
    The 26,000 additional houses National plans to build in Auckland on public land over the next decade include fewer than 5,000 affordable homes, while more than 60 per cent will be available for speculators to buy, says Leader of the ...
    3 days ago
  • National out of touch over immigration
    National’s abrupt backflip on their recently-announced changes to immigration shows they never understood the problem and just came up with a confused knee jerk response, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Regional communities and businesses were quite right to ...
    4 days ago
  • English out of touch on homelessness
    Bill English’s comments that he doesn’t know why people are complaining about the blowout in the number of homeless families the government is putting up in motels just shows how tired and out of touch National is after nine years, ...
    4 days ago
  • All Kiwis to have same standard of cancer care
    Labour is promising that all New Zealanders will have access to the same level of cancer care no matter where they live in the country, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.   “As someone who has survived cancer I ...
    5 days ago
  • Infrastructure announcement too long coming
    “What took you so long?” is Labour’s response to the Government’s announcement of a new infrastructure investment vehicle. Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says Labour announced its policy in 2015 to debt-finance infrastructure and service that debt with targeted ...
    5 days ago
  • Time for a breather on immigration
    National has no idea how to house the record number of people entering New Zealand, let alone cope with the pressure on health, education, and transport from this record population growth, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour to invest $4 billion in education
    Labour’s Education Manifesto will bring positive change across the education sector and is backed by a massive investment, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Labour’s plan will see an extra $4 billion invested over the next four years. It’s organised ...
    7 days ago
  • National’s shame: worst homelessness in the OECD
    National’s legacy is a housing crisis that has given New Zealand the worst homeless rate in the developed world, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour taking action on school donations
    Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour has always been committed to a world-class free education ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour to work with Queenstown to build more houses
    Labour will work with Queenstown-Lakes District Council, iwi, and the Community Housing Trust to build the modern, affordable housing Queenstown desperately needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats blow the Budget on motels after bowling state houses
    National is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels, the legacy of nine years of selling off and knocking down state houses, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • New revelations in Joanne Harrison report
    The State Services Commission’s report into the treatment of whistle-blowers by Joanne Harrison has revealed new accusations against the convicted fraudster, says Labour MP Sue Moroney.  “The report found that four staff inside the Ministry of Transport who had raised ...
    1 week ago
  • Snafu at Princess Margaret
    Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “The Government must accept that Christchurch is still recovering ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s fiscal plan to build a fairer New Zealand
    Labour will re-build our housing, health and education while responsibly managing New Zealand’s finances, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “Under Labour’s Fiscal Plan we will deliver big investments in the services we all need and care about, invest ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats show they’re the tax dodgers’ best friends
    The government is taking the knife to IRD at a time when we need a highly skilled department to ensure that multinationals and speculators don’t get away with dodging tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour secures the future for NZ Super
    A Labour Government will secure the future for New Zealand Superannuation so we can continue to provide superannuation to those retiring at age 65, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “One of the first things a Labour-led Government will ...
    1 week ago
  • Multinationals must pay fair share of tax
    A Labour Government will crack down on multinational companies that are dodging paying their fair share of tax, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealanders are missing out by hundreds of millions according to the IRD because multinational companies can ...
    1 week ago
  • ACT’s approach to children backward and ill informed
    Act’s new deputy leader’s claim that Labour’s support for families could “extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse” is ill informed and offensive, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Canterbury hatchet job a disgrace
    The Government’s glib acceptance of advice that the Canterbury District Health Board doesn’t need more money is a hatchet job and a disgrace, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “To claim that the DHB was using tactics to leverage more ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Quality for Kiwi kids at ECE
    After more than a decade of rapid growth in the number of children participating in Early Childhood Education (ECE), it’s time to take stock and map out a clear plan for the future, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to boost ECE quality
    Labour will ensure kids get the best start in life by boosting funding for Early Childhood Centres to employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour will stump up a million dollars for Maniototo Hospital
    A Labour led Government will make a million dollars available to rebuild the Maniototo Base hospital in Ranfurly, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “This will be a much needed boost for a long overdue rebuild that has ...
    2 weeks ago
  • No vision for the West Coast
    The West Coast welcomes any Government investment in our region but the lack of any real alternative vision for the West Coast’s economy is disappointing, says Damien O’Connor Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP.  “The establishment of a Mining Research Unit will ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s youth work scheme too little too late
    After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis won’t fall for Joyce’s spin
    Steven Joyce’s embarrassingly obvious spin on Labour’s Families Package won’t fool anyone, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour prioritises families and public services
    Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis can’t sleep in your ghost houses, Nick
    The Government’s housing infrastructure announcement is another Nick Smith special – over-promising with no detail on delivery, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
    Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s ...
    3 weeks ago