web analytics

The GCSB can’t count

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, February 21st, 2014 - 31 comments
Categories: john key, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

GCSB Contact page

The latest from the organisation that has branded itself as having mastery of cyberspace shows that it is is having trouble counting.  It presented its annual report to Parliament yesterday but had to insert an erratum into the report because someone in the organisation cannot count.

For the 2012/2013 year instead of seven interception warrants being in force there were actually 11.  Instead of four interception warrants being issued there were five.  Instead of there being 14 access authorisations in force there were 26.  And instead of nine access authorisations being issued there were 11.

The mistake arose because some operations had multiple warrants issued. But this is pretty well the only way to assess what this super duper secret organisation is up to and you would expect it to get such an important document right.

Something the media has not commented on yet but before it is published it has to be submitted to the relevant Minister who has the power to withhold information contained in the report.  Key’s office must have given active consideration to the report before it was published.  The report also has to be delivered to him “as soon as practicable after June 30” so it has been sitting on someone’s desk for quite a while.

You have to wonder at how such a silly series of mistakes could be made.  And you have to wonder how the Minister in charge, John Key, could have allowed the report to be completed with such a series of basic mistakes.

Next time someone within the organisation should take their shoes and socks off to make sure that they are performing a proper count.

John Key’s mate Ian Fletcher has given an apology.  Perhaps the man himself should give one.


31 comments on “The GCSB can’t count”

  1. Tracey 1

    Its ok mickey. They under counted at a time their boss wanted to play down the issue. Accidentally. They realised way later when it was regarded as a non issue. No harm done.

    Youd think not being able to count or , triple check would be a detriment to the overseer of gcsb. But its ok cos john has trouble with figures too… he tends to overstate so perhaps he thinks between he and Ian it evens out?

  2. Sabine Ford 2

    These are not mistakes, and they can count.
    However they also know that the public at large will never study the report, and that the journalists tasked with reading it will hardly notice the “mistakes”, as they are not paid to find mistakes. They are paid to stenograph and regurgitate what the government tells them.

    Deception and Lies would be better words used, and they should be used.

    It is way past time to continue to believe that these are Errors.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      So you’re saying that in the midst of one of the most stressful and embarrassing situations The Masters of Cyberspace have ever found themselves in, “no pressure”, with their Loyal Legal Officer on gardening leave, they suddenly turned into an outfit that couldn’t screw up some more?

      Yeah nah. SNAFU.

  3. floyd 3

    Can just see key with his little red pen deleting and altering to fit his reality.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    The Masters of Cyberspace?

    Is it just me or are there acres of comedy potential just lying around? Military Intelligence isn’t just an oxymoron, it’s a farce.

    • David H 4.1

      I thought it was. Pig’s in Space. Not the dogs Breakfast that it has become. Or maybe Key has a special power, where as all numbers on a page change themselves to fit his mood? Something has to define the Clusterfuck that this Govt has morphed into.

  5. Naturesong 5

    Who caught the errors?

    I’m assuming it was either Labour, Greens or Winston Peters, but I’ve not been following question time lately (apart from Tony Ryall’s black eye this week – having known for some time that there are underreported issues in the health service, I’ve been waiting for one or more of the boils to burst).

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      Yes. I read Annette King’s press release – dodgy much?

    • veutoviper 5.2

      A little clarification of the timelines and process might be helpful.

      The uncorrected GCSB Annual Report 2013 was presented to the House on 3 December 2013, and gazetted on 24 January 2014. (Won’t provide links, but presentation can be viewed in the Start of the Day video for 3 Dec 2013 via the Parliamentary TV archives, and the Gazette Notice also via the NZ Parliament website.)

      The Erratum itself was only presented to the House yesterday, 20 February 2014.

      (The presentation of Annual Reports is a formality in the House only; there is no discussion although questions can be raised in subsequently Question Times. – and may well be when Parliament sits again in March.)

      Presumably, therefore, the mistakes have only been identified in the last few weeks – eg after the full report was presented in Dec and gazetted in Jan.

      Having had experience in preparing /presenting Govt Dept/Agency Annual Reports (for my sins, and not good for the blood pressure), IMO. the most probable situation was that the errors were discovered within the GCSB itself, or possibly by the PM’s Office who presumably keep their own records of what the PM signs off.

      There is obviously the possibility that the errors were discovered as a result of questions raised by Opposition parties through processes outside the House but if this was the case, I would expect that this would be shouted from the rooftops by that Opposition Party – and I haven’t seen that.

      Section 12 of the GCSB Act 2003 (as amended last year) sets out the process for the GCSB Annual Report. http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0009/latest/link.aspx?id=DLM187833

      In summary, the GCSB prepares the Annual Report and provides it to their Minister (the PM) who can direct that it be amended to delete any material which mets the criteria set out in S12(4) for deletion. However, these errors relate to specific matters that S12 directs must be in the report under S12(3)

      Before the report is presented to the House, the PM must submit the report to members of the Intelligence and Security Committee. There is a (slight) possibility is that questioning by one or more of the Opposition members on the Committee could have led to the GCSB reassessing the figures and finding the errors – but obviously not before the Annual Report was presented and gazetted.

      But definitely, not a good look to say the least. The GCSB Annual Report is actually a lot less complex and detailed than other Govt Dept/Agency Annual Reports – and the numbers of the few activites to be reported not high. To get these wrong is appalling.

      At the end of the day, the Responsible Minister is exactly that – responsible or should be. The Annual Report is cleared and signed off by that Minister and presented to the House by that Minister. So Key should be more than embarrassed.

      • McFlock 5.2.1

        the numbers of the few activites to be reported not high. To get these wrong is appalling.

        That’s what really smacks to me of “fresh out of give a fucks” on all levels.

        At best, somebody read the brief for reporting and counted the operations with warrants, and nobody bothered to check that their interpretation was correct. Or maybe the checker said “J got 9, oh must be operations, all good then”. And it was rubber-stamped all the way up the line (so much for Key being an expert who picks things up quickly).

        At worst, somebody was told by their shitty manager to find the number of warrants (no reason given), and returned the numbers which were then barely looked at before they were kicked upstairs to the person collating the report.

      • mickysavage 5.2.2

        Thanks Veuto that is very helpful. It will be interesting to find out where the mistakes were picked up on and I agree that it looks like the GCSB itself discovered the mistake. Makes you wonder what attention the MP’s office gave to it and I would be surprised if they did not do something as basic as check on the number of warrants issued.

        I cannot imagine Helen ever making this sort of mistake.

        Will we see headlines claiming that Key has misled Parliament?

        • veutoviper

          I have doubts that we will find out how or by whom the errors were found for sure. I expect a lot of spin.

          I was thinking earlier that I don’t recall ever seeing an Erratum to a government dept etc Annual Report – but I was wrong! I have just searched the NZ Parliament website for Erratum – and there are lots to Annual Reports – ACC, SFO, etc. (Including ones during HC’s tenure – but haven’t immediately identified any for depts etc she was responsible for, but cannot be sure without a detailed check I don’t have time for right now.)

          So, I am not sure whether the mislead line should be pushed too hard, as it could backfire. Nats obviously have a lot of reseach resources, and use the’ throw it back in your face’ approach constantly.

          Perhaps it would be better to continue the approach Labour and the Greens have used so far in using this situation to reinforce calls for a thorough overall review of the GCSB and other intelligence agencies. IE, the bigger picture, which may get more traction with the general public.

        • Melb

          “I cannot imagine Helen ever making this sort of mistake.”

          Ha! It was under her Ministership that the whole GCSB saga began!

          Oh, but that wasn’t a mistake I suppose…

          • mickysavage

            What do you mean? She put through legislation which set out the GCSB’s role and duties and she is somehow responsible because the current employees cannot count? Are you being serious?

            • Melb

              The whole illegal spying shemozzole began under her watch as Minister in charge of the bureau. Was that a mistake by the GCSB to be performing such activities? Because I would count it as a far worse mistake.

      • Ron 5.2.3

        maybe it was the Deputy PM that signed off. After all he had no problems trying to cover up activities of GCSB when it was discovered they had stuffed up previously.

      • RedBaronCV 5.2.4

        Add in the fact that probably no one in the place has read the governing statutes so have no idea what they should be counting.
        One of the more entertaining aspects of government work is the bit where you go “the legislation doesn’t allow that” and somebody goes “what legislation?” Or my personal favourite, reading the legislation and following the rules so that Stats and treasury start screaming.

  6. Concerned 6

    [Off topic and trolling. Comment deleted – MS]

  7. captain hook 7

    we are living in post modern times where only your own truths count.
    everybody can count what they are owed the rest is just whatever.
    you no.
    whaddever is aprropeeit for meeeeeeeeee.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Imagine a world where a company’s outside auditors were only ever allowed to look at the most favourable records, reports and numbers that the company’s directors wanted them to see.

    These auditors are not allowed access to any other details or documents for ‘operational reasons of confidentiality and sensitivity’. The auditors cannot even independently check if the reports and records that they have been handed over to them are accurate or complete.

    This my friends is the world we now live in. The oversight and influence that our elected officials have over these organisations is a joke.

    In the US its gone even further of course, where the intelligence agencies act using secret interpretations of the legislation which empowers them, and where even if public officials are briefed, the public officials have no power to share or do anything with the information that they are given.

    It’s democracy theatre.

    • veutoviper 8.1

      Agreed, CV.

      Since submitting my comment at 5.2, I have checked the audit requirements for the GCSB Annual Report.

      Under the Public Finance Act 1989 that sets out the audit requirements for government depts etc, the GCSB (and SIS etc) appear to be subject to the normal audit requirements for financial reporting – but not for non-financial reporting as are other government depts etc.

      Section 45E of the PF Act appears to exempt the GCSB etc from the provisions of sections 45D and 45D requiring the independent audit of non-financial performance (Statement of Service Performance) section of Annual Reports. (Audit NZ usually carries out both the financial and non-financial audit).

      So it appears that the incorrect figures would not have been audited/checked – other than by the GCSB itself or the PM’s office.

      So transparency? No.

  9. Anne 9

    John Key’s mate Ian Fletcher has given an apology. Perhaps the man himself should give one.

    Why should John Key have to apologise? How could he know there were errors in it? He doesn’t read reports.(sarc)

    • veutoviper 9.1

      LOL, Anne.

      But in this instance, as explained in my 5.2 above, Key as the PM and the Minister responsible for the GCSB is specifically required under the GCSB Act t2003 (as amended last year) to see the Annual Report and direct any amendments to it, submit it to the Intelligence and Security Committee; and then (in accordance with the Public Finance Act 1989) sign it off and present it to the House.

      So it is a much more formal process than other types of reports.

  10. politikiwi 10

    As I read the way the miscount has happened, the GCSB provided the number of operations under way, rather than the number of warrants issued across those operations. So there’s a one-to-many relationship between operations and warrants.

    Surely both figures are important / relevant, and should be included in the report?

    The report makes me laugh, by the way: The top-right paragraph of page 10 talks about the GCSB’s efforts to protect NZ business from attackers trying to steal their trade secrets. Meanwhile, other Five-Eyes members are actively engaged in stealing trade secrets from foreign companies.

    They don’t do much to enhance their credibility with the public, do they….

  11. ruup 11

    Three cheers for Colonel Flag !!!

  12. RedBaronCV 12

    Is it only me that finds some vague comfort in the clusterf. way they go on. They have a long and proud history of this starting with the Aro street toilet lurking, through the meat pie, playboy and now this

  13. KJT 13

    “Operation mincemeat is a good amusing story, but in the light of current revelations about SIS it is a salutary reminder about the nuttiness of the spy and counter spy silliness of so called intelligence agencies”. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2010/05/10/100510crat_atlarge_gladwell?currentPage=all

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    13 hours ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    15 hours ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    1 day ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    2 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    2 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    3 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    3 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    3 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    3 days ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    4 days ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    4 days ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    4 days ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    5 days ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    1 week ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    1 week ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    1 week ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    1 week ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    1 week ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    1 week ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    1 week ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    1 week ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    1 week ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speculation fever spreads around country
    House prices in Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga are going off as a result of uncontrolled property speculation spilling over from the Auckland market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Speculators who have been priced out of Auckland are now fanning ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand lags on aid targets
      The National Government needs to live up to its commitments and allocate 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income on development assistance, says Labour’s spokesperson on Pacific Climate Change Su’a William Sio.  “The second State of the Environment Report ...
    3 weeks ago
  • War on drugs needs more troops
    The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “Answers from written questions from the Minister show ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago