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UoA: Evidence Of Ability to Comply with the Public Records Act and the OIA

Chris Johnston made this Official Information request to University of Auckland

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From: Chris Johnston

Dear University of Auckland,

This OIA is in response to UoA stating in a response to a separate OIA that records "cannot be made available without substantial collation or research".

This raised the concern that UoA does not have the systems or processes to enable it to comply with the Public Records Act or the OIA. This includes the ability to quickly and in an automated way to return records through searching that relate to a particular enquiry so fewer numbers of records need to be manually reviewed.

Therefore, please provide records for:
OIA
1) The business processes and training materials for servicing OIA Requests
2) Any Audits (internal or external) that relate to OIA compliance
3) The latest reporting (e.g. KPIs or Dashboard) that quantifies OIA compliance
4) Ombudsman's decisions about OIA requests declined by UoA

Public Records Act
5) The business processes and training materials for complying with the Public Records Act
6) Any Audits (internal or external) that relate to Public Records Act compliance
7) Any reporting or KPIs that detail what Retention and Disposal activities have occurred in the last period reported on.

Information Architecture
8) High level information architecture document for UoA that describes the main technologies, products and partners that are used - with the main focus on:
8a) Record Search capability
8b) Retention and Disposal capability

For example (8):
- might mention that Microsoft Sharepoint and Exchange is used for document storage and search..... or some other products.
- is not looking for technical details of integration or search capability

Yours faithfully,

Chris Johnston

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From: Chris Johnston

Dear University of Auckland,

Can you please confirm receipt of this OIA dated 4 November 2019, and UoA's intention to provide the requested information.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Johnston

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From: Rebecca Ewert
University of Auckland

Dear Mr Johnston
I confirm receipt of your request.
Rebecca Ewert
General Counsel
University of Auckland

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From: Rebecca Ewert
University of Auckland


Attachment ArchivesNZ Final Report Letter 20130213.pdf
1.2M Download View as HTML

Attachment ArchivesNZ Audit Findings Report 2012.pdf
7.0M Download View as HTML

Attachment RM Resource sheets as at Nov 2019.zip
6.1M Download


Dear Mr Johnston,

 

I refer to your request of 4 November 2019. The University’s response
follows.

 

…please provide records for:

OIA

1) The business processes and training materials for servicing OIA
Requests

2) Any Audits (internal or external) that relate to OIA compliance
3) The latest reporting (e.g. KPIs or Dashboard) that quantifies OIA
compliance

 

As the University’s General Counsel, I respond to Official Information Act
(OIA) requests on behalf of the University. The University does not have
training materials for servicing OIA requests (though I note the Office of
the Ombudsmen’s publicly available resources at
[1]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resou...), has not
been audited for OIA compliance, and does not have reporting to quantify
OIA compliance other than as published by the Office of the Ombudsmen at
[2]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resou....
Requests 1-3 are refused under section 18(d), in relation to publicly
available information, and section 18(e), in relation to your requests for
documents that do not exist.

 

4) Ombudsman's decisions about OIA requests declined by UoA

Correspondence between the University and the Office of the Ombudsmen is
not official information under the Official Information Act. Information
about the outcomes of investigations by the Office of the Ombudsmen is
publicly available at
[3]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resou....

 

Public Records Act

5) The business processes and training materials for complying with the
Public Records Act

6) Any Audits (internal or external) that relate to Public Records Act
compliance

See
[4]https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/the-...
and attached.

7) Any reporting or KPIs that detail what Retention and Disposal
activities have occurred in the last period reported on.
There is no reporting or KPIs on retention or disposal activities. Your
request for this information is refused under section 18(e) of the OIA, as
the documents requested do not exist.

 

Information Architecture

8) High level information architecture document for UoA that describes the
main technologies, products and partners that are used - with the main
focus on:

8a) Record Search capability

8b) Retention and Disposal capability

 

The University does not hold such a document. This request is refused
under section 18(e) of the Official Information Act.

 

You have the right to make a complaint about this response to an
Ombudsman.

 

Yours sincerely,

Rebecca Ewert

General Counsel

University of Auckland

 

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From: Chris Johnston

Dear Rebecca Ewert,

Thank you for your reply.

There are three clarifications that I would like to responded to or remediated, and a couple of comments (that do not require a response but seek to summarise).

CLARIFICATION 1) OIA BUSINESS PROCESSES
The original request asked this:
“OIA

1) The business processes and training materials for servicing OIA
Requests”

The UoA’s response was this:
“As the University’s General Counsel, I respond to Official Information Act (OIA) requests on behalf of the University. The University does not have training materials for servicing OIA requests (though I note the Office of the Ombudsmen’s publicly available resources at [1] http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resou...), has not been audited for OIA compliance, and does not have reporting to quantify OIA compliance other than as published by the Office of the Ombudsmen at [2] http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/resou... . Requests 1-3 are refused under section 18(d), in relation to publicly available information, and section 18(e), in relation to your requests for documents that do not exist.”

The “business processes” part of this OIA request was not explicitly responded to. Is the UoA claiming that:
a) there are no business process that are documented for the wider University staff for servicing OIA requests (over and above what General Counsel, Rebecca Ewert has in her head)?, and
b) the general staff are not trained or briefed on this process using any written or electronic materials as part of their employment?

COMMENT A)
As a result of your reply to this OIA I have undertaken the following searches on the UoA website but cannot find anything related to OIA processes or compliance.
https://search.auckland.ac.nz/search?q=o...
https://search.auckland.ac.nz/search?q=%...

CLARIFICATION 2) INACCESIBLE LINKS THAT APPEAR RELEVANT

For example, the document “RS17 - Myth busters.pdf” (document dated 15 Nov 2019) that was returned included a link to the following site https://www.staff.auckland.ac.nz/en/how-... that is inaccessible to the public because of a login screen. Can you please:
a) confirm that this material and any related materials relevant to this OIA have been returned?
b) Rectify this if required, and any similar omissions.
This SharePoint site is also referenced in:
• RS13 - Records Retention and Disposal Overview v1.pdf – document dated 15 Nov 2019
• RS21_recordsofuniversitycommittees_v3_1.pdf – document dated 15 Nov 2019

For example, there is this site https://aem.auckland.ac.nz/content/dam/u... referred to in “RS20 - How to manage your office relocation - v2.pdf” that it not available to the public that seems relevant to the document.

For example, in the document RS8_Staff Exit_v1.0_2010-11-23.pdf this text “For best practices in naming electronic folders, see ‘Managing electronic files and folders - some guidelines’ on the Records Management intranet site” neither the document in ‘quotes’ or the Records Management site is provided.

COMMENT B) EASILY SEARCHABLE STORAGE
It appears that the UoA uses technologies that make finding stored documents relatively easy using industry standard technology.
• SharePoint – mentioned above
• Shared Drives (RS11 - Organising Shared Drives v1.pdf) – document dated 15 Nov 2019

CLARIFICATION 3) INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

The relevant text in the UoA’s reply is below (with my original request listed first):
“8) High level information architecture document for UoA that describes the main technologies, products and partners that are used - with the main focus on:
8a) Record Search capability
8b) Retention and Disposal capability

The University does not hold such a document. This request is refused
under section 18(e) of the Official Information Act.”

I do not believe that the UoA has complied with the law under Section 18B of the Official Information Act in invoking section 18(e) . This is the 4th time that the UoA has not consulted with myself in relation to OIAs that are not vexatious and for entirely reasonable requests. The other OIAs that this pattern is displayed in are listed below:
https://fyi.org.nz/request/11359-uoa-rec...
https://fyi.org.nz/request/11360-uoa-rec...
https://fyi.org.nz/request/11358-uoa-rec...
I also note that the UoA has not responded to follow up queries on these OIAs.
This seems to indicate a defensive posture by the UoA where it does not intend to comply with the law where it can get away with it. Please let me know if this interpretation is incorrect and is not the message that the UoA intends to send.
If this is a succession of genuine errors then I need you to take steps to rectify and remediate all of these problems as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Johnston

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From: Rebecca Ewert
University of Auckland

Dear Mr Johnston,

 

In relation to your question about the business process for Official
Information Act requests, I confirm that the relevant process is for the
General Counsel to respond to OIA requests on behalf of the University.

 

With regard to the Public Records Act material, I confirm that we have
provided you with the requested documents. The resource sheets have
internal links to other resource sheets on the University’s staff
intranet, and although you cannot access the linked material by following
the link as you are not a University staff member, the resource sheets
linked to have already been provided to you directly. For example, the
link from RS20 that you refer to takes the reader to RS9 – Storage and
Disposal, which has already been provided to you. Similarly the link from
RS8 takes the reader to RS4, Managing electronic files and folders,
already provided.

 

You have the right to make a complaint to an Ombudsman if you are
dissatisfied with the University’s responses to your OIA requests. The OIA
is not a mechanism that can be used to require agencies to engage in
debate or generate justifications or explanations in relation to a matter
of interest to a requester.

 

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Ewert

General Counsel

 

 

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From: Chris Johnston

Dear Rebecca Ewert (or alternative person if Rebecca is still on leave)

Thank you for the response of 20 December 2019.

I have outlined below the areas where the University of Auckland (UoA) have not responded and I need further information or action.

CLARIFICATION 1) OIA BUSINESS PROCESSES
The “business processes” part of this OIA request was not explicitly responded to. Is the UoA claiming that:
a) there are no business process that are documented for the wider University staff for servicing OIA requests (over and above what General Counsel, Rebecca Ewert has in her head)?, and
b) the general staff are not trained or briefed on this process using any written or electronic materials as part of their employment?

You have answered question 1a.

QUESTION ASKED AGAIN: Please answer question 1b.

CLARIFICATION 2) INACCESSIBLE LINKS THAT APPEAR RELEVANT
You have answered the question. Thank you.

CLARIFICATION 3) INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
Section 18B describes a duty to consider consulting person if request likely to be refused under section 18(e) or (f)
PLEASE PROVIDE:
a) Evidence that I consulted with by the University of Auckland before my request was refused under section 18(e) of the Official Information Act, or
b) On what basis it was considered that the University of Auckland would not be able to assist me to make the request in a form that would remove the reason for the refusal.

If you have not consulted with me then please start consulting so that we can come to a common agreement of the information that I am requesting and what is possible.

PURPOSE OF THE FINAL COMMENT?
Can you please explain the purpose of this comment in the last response, from University of Auckland, and how it relates to this OIA?
“The OIA is not a mechanism that can be used to require agencies to engage in debate or generate justifications or explanations in relation to a matter of interest to a requester.”
I am not seeking to debate. This OIA asks for documents. So I am confused as to how the comment is relevant or whether I should respond. I may be missing something, or something I have written could have mis-interpreted perhaps.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Johnston

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From: Landon Watt
University of Auckland

Dear Mr Johnston

Further to your request for additional clarification on the University's OIA business processes, I have provided more detail below about the instruction given to staff on how information requests are to be handled. As previously stated we do not have any specific training materials on servicing OIA requests.

"The University receives and answers a large number of routine requests for information from prospective and current students, as well as members of the public. Occasionally frontline staff members encounter requests for the kind of information that they would not give out routinely, such as internal University data.

These requests should not be refused out of hand. The Official Information Act 1982, the Privacy Act 1993, and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 all require the University to provide certain kinds of information on request. This is so even if the request does not specify that it is being made under a particular Act of Parliament.

If you are faced with a request for information that you would be concerned about providing for whatever reason, you should refer the request to the General Counsel at [University of Auckland request email] so that it can be dealt with properly under New Zealand law. A request that specifically mentions any of the above Acts should always be referred in the first instance to the General Counsel."

In relation to University's refusal of part of your request under section 18(e) of the Official Information Act, I can confirm that the University complied with its obligations under section 18B of the Official Information Act, and that it considered that consulting with you would not assist you to make the request in a form that would remove the reason for the refusal. If you wish to pursue this further then, as stated in the University's previous responses to your requests, you have the right to make a complaint to an Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

Landon Watt
Legal Advisor
Office of the Vice Chancellor
University of Auckland

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