Tuesday, August 16, 2011

OIA performance stats: A slight improvement

At the beginning of the month I commented on preliminary results from my annual OIA performance survey, which has seen Ministerial performance jump significantly since last year. I'm still waiting on a few Ministers (new Ministers had to be sent a two-stage request, and I failed to notice that Tariana Turia refuses to answer her Ministerial email), but here's another improvement. Last year, Gerry Brownlee was the worst Minister, answering only 39.7% of requests within the statutory 20-day limit. This year, he's boosted that to 54.8%. Still utterly unacceptable, but a few more years, and he'll get there. Sadly, this improvement in timeliness has come at the cost of a substantial increase in mean (but not median) response time - meaning that when things are late, they're even later. So, he still has a lot to work on.

The good news is that he is working on it. His response included this comment:

Over the course of the past 12 months, I recognise that there have been some instances where responses to requests for information under the Official Information Act have not met the deadlines required by the Act. I would comment that the past year has been extraordinary, particularly with the Canterbury earthquakes and the tragedy at Pike River, which I know you are aware of having dealt with people from my office during this time.

Notwithstanding this, dealing with requests for information under the Official Information Act is a matter that I take seriously and I have instructed my office to instigate a thorough review of the systems and processes used to manage and track requests made under the Official Information Act.

I'm hoping that review results in a significant improvement in performance. There are ministerial offices with very heavy OIA loads which manage a perfect or near-perfect response rate. Brownlee can do the same if he sets his mind to it and instructs his staff accordingly.