Friday, August 20, 2010

A problem of dates

I've run into a problem with analysing my OIA performance statistics. The problem? Agencies can't count! Most data includes a field for the date a request was due to the requestor as well as the day it was sent. But these dates are frequently incorrect, and do not match the Ombudsmen's online calculator.

This causes problems when it comes to extensions. The OIA allows the 20 working day deadline to be extended, and its obvious when a request which has taken 40 days has been extended or not. But when a request has taken 21 - 25 days, its not so clear. Is the due date beyond the calculated 20 working days because it has been extended by a day or two (rare in my experience; they tend to take five or more), or simply because the agency calculated it incorrectly? At the moment, I'm assuming that they can't count, which means I'm potentially giving a harsher assessment of performance than they really deserve. But giving them the benefit of the doubt ignore the very real failure of agencies to calculate their due dates correctly (which is a significant cause of minor lateness).