Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Transparency and the pandemic

Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) hasn't been changed under the epidemic notice, so you can still make requests - and they may be extremely valuable in providing transparency around the emergency decisions.

The Ombudsman has issued guidance to agencies about this, and will be triaging complaints to focus on those related to the emergency in order to provide that transparency. For requesters, the advice is to be reasonable. Agencies may have other things on their minds ATM, but also, people may be sick and simply unable to answer. Provided they call and ask for extra time (rather than simply being late), its usually not going to hurt to agree.