Friday, November 27, 2015

More government abuse of the OIA

The Herald has a story this morning about Callaghan Innovation's R&D grants scheme, and a recent report which found the grant rules "ambiguous" and "contradict[ed] the purpose". But buried in there is another case of government abuse of the OIA:

The report by Deloitte emerged out of a dispute between government agency Callaghan Innovation and media firm Trends Publishing that has resulted in High Court challenges and a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation.


Trends director of special planning Andrew Johnson said Deloitte had been engaged by Callaghan to look into his company at the end of last year, but the funding agency had refused to release an unredacted version of the report.

Johnson provided the Herald with copies of emails where Callaghan staff said in February the section criticising the growth grants scheme was excluded from release under the Official Information Act as it was claimed it related only to "administrative matters between Deloitte and Callaghan Innovation".

However, in subsequent court action an unredacted version of the report was released independently by Deloitte.

This is far more serious than Nick Smith playing the "out of scope" game to cover up National abusing public money to pimp its own MPs - here, a department explicitly lied to a requester about what they were covering up and why. Its simply an outright, flagrant abuse, and we should not tolerate it. But as long as the Ombudsman is too underfunded to investigate, then agencies don't fear being caught, and so will keep pissing on the law.