Review of OIA processes

Alex Harris made this Official Information request to Government Communications Security Bureau

The request was partially successful.

From: Alex Harris

Dear Government Communications Security Bureau,

On 21 February the GCSB responded to questions from the Intelligence and Security Committee relatign to its annual financial review (online here: https://www.greens.org.nz/sites/default/...). Several of the questions related to the GCSB's processing of OIA requests. In response to question 64, the GCSB said:

"During 2012/13 the GCSB reviewed its procedures for answering Official Information Act requests. As part of the review the GCSB and Minister's office discussed and agreed on the administrative process for consulting on proposed official information act requests."

I would like to request the following information under the OIA:

* A copy of the review of OIA procedures mentioned in the answer above;
* A copy of the agreement with the Minister's office mentioned in the answer above;
* all advice, correspondence, drafts, memos and emails related to the above (I'm interested in seeing the process of the review, who had input to it, what was considered and what wasn't).

I would prefer to receive an electronic response. Queries about this request will be automatically forwarded to me by the fyi.org.nz website.

With regards to s12 of the OIA, I am an NZ citizen and in NZ.

Yours faithfully,

Alex Harris

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From: Information
Government Communications Security Bureau

GCSB acknowledges receipt of your request and will response within the statutory deadline

Regards

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From: Information
Government Communications Security Bureau


Attachment 2014 03 28 OIA Request Alex Harris Response.pdf
4.7M Download View as HTML


 

 

Please find attached the response to your OIA request

 

Regards

 

 

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From: Alex Harris

Dear Information,

Thankyou for your response. Unfortunately I do not find it credible that you would refer to information in a response to Parliament then deny it exists, or that you would review a policy without ever committing a scrap of information to paper. I have referred the matter to the Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Harris

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Luke left an annotation ()

I agree with Alex's assertion that is not credible that no information exists showing the consultation between the PMO (Prime Minister's office) and the GCSB. The statement made to the select committee suggests there was communication between the two parties/ Furthermore, the Bureau itself says in its reponse to Alex's request that its OIA procedures were reviewed "after liaison with the PMO". Even if the communication was verbal only and not rendered to documentary form, the Bureau should provide information stating what transpired as best as it can recollect. This is because knowledge held in the minds of officials is considered official information by the Ombudsman.

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Alex Harris left an annotation ()

The Ombudsman has investigated and accepted the refusal was properly made. The statement to the select committee suggested that the review was much more formal than it was. Here's what she found:

"GCSB has advised that the review of OIA procedures involved a staff member reviewing and updating the document titled "Instructions for responding to Official Information Act (0IA) requests". GCSB has provided you with a copy of the updated version of these instructions. GCSB has advised that it holds no draft documents, emails, correspondence or other information relevant to that review."

"GCSB has advised that there was a brief telephone conversation between a staff member at GCSB and a staff member in the Minister's office regarding GCSB's process of consulting with the Minister on proposed responses to official information requests... I am advised that no notes of the telephone conversation were taken and that there is no other record of the 'agreement', other than what is recorded in the Instructions."

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Luke left an annotation ()

Thanks for adding that excerpt from the Ombudsman's decision letter.

I think the GCSB should have included that second paragraph (relating to the telephone conversation) in its response to you, as that would have more fully and completely addressed one of the legs of your request. However as is becoming clear to me, GCSB are typically unhelpfully brief in their responses to requesters.

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