COVID-19 false information reporting cell

Harold made this Official Information request to Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: Harold

Dear Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,

A report recently proactively released on the Unite Against COVID-19 website refers to an inter-agency group providing reporting on COVID-19 false information:

“DPMC has brought together the National Assessments Bureau, the Ministry of Health’s Disinformation Assessment and Response Team (DART)… into a virtual triaging and reporting cell for false information regarding COVID-19. Its purpose will be to provide a structure for collating, synthesising and reporting information to the Prime Minister, other relevant Ministers and senior officials on the impact of false information on public safety and the associated effect of COVID-19 response measures on social cohesion. The first report to Ministers is expected before Christmas and will likely become fortnightly from February 2022… The cell will report to the Interagency Coordination Group, which is convened by DPMC to support efforts to build resilience to false information.”

The report can be viewed here (quote on page 9):

https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/Proactive...

On the topic of this “cell” I would like to request the following:

1) A copy of all of the “ first report to Ministers” referred to above
2) Copies of all subsequent reports to Ministers in this series
3) If the cell has a set of terms of reference and/or an operating model, I would like to request copies of them

Yours faithfully,

Harold

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Tēnā koe 

 

Thank you for emailing the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet (DPMC), including the National Emergency Management
Agency (NEMA).   

Please note, DPMC is not able to respond to emails that are
outside its purview. If the subject of your email does not relate to the
work of DPMC, we will forward your email to the appropriate Minister
or agency who will respond to you directly. To find out more about the
functions of DPMC please view our website - [1]https://dpmc.govt.nz/ 

 

If your correspondence is intended for the Prime Minister please email her
office at - [2][email address]. Contact information for other
Members of Parliament can be found at
- [3]https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involve...

If you are writing about an issue relating to COVID-19, we encourage you
to first refer to the [4]COVID-19 website. Here’s a list of links that you
may find helpful: 

o [5]Current Alert Level
o [6]Latest Government COVID-19 information
o [7]Jobs, training and financial support
o [8]Travel and the border
o [9]Mental wellbeing, accessing health care and violence protection
o [10]Information for businesses
o [11]Proactive release of Government Response documents
o [12]Managed Isolation and Quarantine 

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, please call your local GP or
contact the Healthline team on 0800 358 5453

Common Questions:

* Official Information Act (OIA) Requests will be formally acknowledged
during office hours and actioned accordingly. For more information
about the statutory OIA timeframes please see
- [13]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/.
* For Job opportunities within DPMC please see
- [14]https://centralagenciesjobs.cass.govt.nz.... Please use
this website to apply for vacancies, unfortunately resumes received
through other avenues will not be considered.
* New Zealand Visas and requests for asylum are managed by Immigration
New Zealand. Please see - [15]https://www.immigration.govt.nz/. 

We hope one of the above links helps answer your question.  

We appreciate your patience at this time. Thanks again and please take
care.

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

[IN-CONFIDENCE]

Kia ora

Thank you for your request under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) received on Tuesday, 31 May 2022, copied below.

We will respond to your request within the statutory timeframes set out in the Act. If we are unable to met these timeframes we will notify you. Please note, due to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's (DPMC) involvement in the government’s response to COVID-19, our timeliness to respond to requests may be impacted. If any additional factors come to light which are relevant to your request, please do not hesitate to contact us so that these can be taken into account.

Your request will be managed by the Ministerial Services Team within DPMC. If you have any queries, please feel free to contact us at [DPMC request email].

DPMC may publish the response to your OIA request. If we publish the response your personal information, including your name and contact details, will be removed.

Ngā mihi,

Ministerial Coordinator
Ministerial and Business Services
Strategy, Governance and Engagement
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

E [DPMC request email]

The information contained in this email message is for the attention of the intended recipient only and is not necessarily the official view or communication of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, copy or distribute this message or the information in it. If you have received this message in error, please destroy the email and notify the sender immediately.

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


Attachment DPMCOIA Extension OIA 2021 22 1386 Harold COVID 19 false information reporting cell.pdf
97K Download View as HTML


[UNCLASSIFIED]

Kia Ora Harold,

Please find attached an extension letter regarding the below OIA request.

Kind regards,

DPMC

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From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet


Attachment image002.png
24K Download

Attachment 2022 07 18 DPMCOIA Reply OIA 2021 22 1386 Harold COVID 19 false information reporting cell Harold Harold.pdf
238K Download View as HTML


[UNCLASSIFIED]

 

Kia ora koe,

 

Please see the attached letter regarding your recent OIA request.

 

Ngā mihi,

 

Ministerial Coordinator
Ministerial and Business Services
Strategy, Governance and Engagement
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
E    [1][DPMC request email]
 
 
The information contained in this email message is for the attention of
the intended recipient only and is not necessarily the official view or
communication of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If you
are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, copy or distribute
this message or the information in it. If you have received this message
in error, please destroy the email and notify the sender immediately.

 

 

Link: [2]File-List
Link: [3]Edit-Time-Data
Link: [4]themeData
Link: [5]colorSchemeMapping

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The information contained in this email message is for the attention of
the intended recipient only and is not necessarily the official view or
communication of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. If you
are not the intended recipient you must not disclose, copy or distribute
this message or the information in it. If you have received this message
in error, please destroy the email and notify the sender immediately.

 

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[DPMC request email]
2. file:///tmp/Signature_files/filelist.xml
3. file:///tmp/Signature_files/editdata.mso
4. file:///tmp/Signature_files/themedata.thmx
5. file:///tmp/Signature_files/colorschememapping.xml
6. file:///tmp/Signature_files/filelist.xml
7. file:///tmp/Signature_files/editdata.mso
8. file:///tmp/Signature_files/themedata.thmx
9. file:///tmp/Signature_files/colorschememapping.xml

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From: Harold

Dear Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet,

I intend to make a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding your decisions on all parts of my request. The Ombudsman’s office recommends complainants to attempt to resolve issues with agencies before making complaints, so I’ve set out my complaint grounds below and I would welcome any further information you could share about why you made these decisions, or your reconsideration of any part of my request.

On the point of parts one and two of my request, I don't find your claim that the two reports I requested must be withheld under 6(a) credible when compared to recent precedent.

Information of a similar nature to these reports has been released by DPMC previously. For instance, the 17 December 2021 DPMC-authored report "COVID-19 False Information Landscape Update" contained within a briefing received by the COVID-19 response minister (pages 7 to 9), here:

https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/Proactive...

which includes discussions of themes, sources and volumes of COVID-19 false information, and its effects on public safety (in the "False Information Fuelling Social Discord" paragraph).

And this report - also prepared by DPMC for the COVID-19 response minister - summarising COVID-related false information reported to CERT, which also discusses COVID-19 false information sources and narratives:

https://covid19.govt.nz/assets/Proactive...

Discussions of the effects of COVID-19 false information narratives on national security is also covered in information released by the NZSIS, as for instance in this document:

https://fyi.org.nz/request/19100/respons...

I intend to request the Ombudsman's office to review your decision to withhold the two reports I requested, with a view to their release in line with these precedents.

On the point of the “draft” terms of reference you have decided to withhold under 9(2)(g)(i), I notice that the Ombudsman’s guidance on use of this withholding ground notes that:

“Simply calling something a ‘draft’ does not invoke the protection of section 9(2)(g)(i). An objective assessment must be made in the circumstances as to whether a document really is a ‘draft’…”

The guidance can be accessed here, quoted section on page 6:

https://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/site...

If the virtual triaging and reporting cell was in existence for four months, producing reports for decision makers during this time (and presumably influencing the decisions they made), and the terms of reference you have withheld was the only document guiding the cell’s operations, and no other “final” terms of reference were ever produced, I don’t believe they can properly be considered as “draft” as the Ombudsman’s guidance describes it, even they were labelled as such. I intend to ask the Ombudsman to review them with a view to having them released as well.

Yours sincerely,

Harold

Link to this

From: Information [DPMC]
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Tēnā koe 

 

Thank you for emailing the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet (DPMC), including the National Emergency Management
Agency (NEMA).   

Please note, DPMC is not able to respond to emails that are
outside its purview. If the subject of your email does not relate to the
work of DPMC, we will forward your email to the appropriate Minister
or agency who will respond to you directly. To find out more about the
functions of DPMC please view our website - [1]https://dpmc.govt.nz/ 

 

If your correspondence is intended for the Prime Minister please email her
office at - [2][email address]. Contact information for other
Members of Parliament can be found at
- [3]https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involve...

If you are writing about an issue relating to COVID-19, we encourage you
to first refer to the [4]COVID-19 website. Here’s a list of links that you
may find helpful: 

o [5]Current Alert Level
o [6]Latest Government COVID-19 information
o [7]Jobs, training and financial support
o [8]Travel and the border
o [9]Mental wellbeing, accessing health care and violence protection
o [10]Information for businesses
o [11]Proactive release of Government Response documents
o [12]Managed Isolation and Quarantine 

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, please call your local GP or
contact the Healthline team on 0800 358 5453

Common Questions:

* Official Information Act (OIA) Requests will be formally acknowledged
during office hours and actioned accordingly. For more information
about the statutory OIA timeframes please see
- [13]http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/.
* For Job opportunities within DPMC please see
- [14]https://centralagenciesjobs.cass.govt.nz.... Please use
this website to apply for vacancies, unfortunately resumes received
through other avenues will not be considered.
* New Zealand Visas and requests for asylum are managed by Immigration
New Zealand. Please see - [15]https://www.immigration.govt.nz/. 

We hope one of the above links helps answer your question.  

We appreciate your patience at this time. Thanks again and please take
care.

Link: [16]File-List
Link: [17]Edit-Time-Data
Link: [18]themeData
Link: [19]colorSchemeMapping

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