Senior official responsible for contact tracing app
The request was partially successful.
From: Andrew Ecclestone
Dear Ministry of Health,
This is a request for official information. Pursuant to section 12(3) of the Official Information Act, I request that it be responded to urgently, and in any case as soon as reasonably practicable.
Dr Ayesha Verrall's report, 'Rapid Audit of Contact Tracing for Covid-19 in New Zealand' dated 10 April 2020, is published on your website on 20 April 2020 here:
Recommendation 8 of Dr Verrall's report states: "The Ministry of Health should rapidly complete development of a smartphone app to assist contact tracing and pilot it in New Zealand."
(1) Please provide me with the name and email address for the senior official responsible for the project to procure or develop this smartphone app.
(2) Please provide me with the name(s) of any or all companies that the Ministry of Health is working with to develop this smartphone app.
My reasons for seeking urgent handling of this request are that:
* the absence of a named official and way to contact them are hampering people's ability to provide technical input and scrutiny of the architecture of the app; and
* the lack of public information about who the Ministry is working with to develop this smartphone app is hampering people's ability to scrutinise this critical piece of work; and
* there is a strong public interest in the section 4(a)(i) public participation purpose of the OIA in this information being available, to facilitate public participation in the design and functionality of this app, both on privacy and public health grounds, as once this app is deployed for public use, if it is criticised for gathering too much personal information public trust in the app will diminish and people may not install it on their smartphones, thereby hindering achievement of the objectives for the app; and
* there is a strong public interest in the section 4(a)(ii) public accountability purpose of the OIA in this information being available: this is project which has major public health and privacy implications, and we deserve to know who is leading this work.
Given the limited amount of information requested and the strong public interest in its urgent disclosure, I look forward to receiving this information as soon as possible. If you need to contact me, please do so via the FYI.org.nz website.
Ministry of Health
Kia ora Mr Ecclestone
Please find attached a letter regarding your request for information.
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]