Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Feeding the watchdog

Last month I highlighted Parliament's annual review of the Ombudsman, which noted persistent under-resourcing and expressed surprise that former Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem had not asked for more funding. In an interview a couple of weeks ago, new Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said he would be asking for more money, and that seems to have paid off, with the Government Administration Committee recommending an additional $2.5 million a year - an increase of ~20% - to deal with the backlog of complaints, audit agencies for OIA compliance, and raise staff salaries. Some of this funding is temporary - the backlog should disappear - and some of it will be reviewed in three years time. But Parliament finally seems to have realised that systematically underfunding the Ombudsman's Office erodes trust and confidence in government, in them, and decided to do something serious about it.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering why former Chief Ombudsman Beverley Wakem didn't recognise and seize this opportunity. That failure is just another reason we should all be glad she's gone.