The Ombudsman’s annual report is out, along with a summary in the Office’s spring newsletter, and it makes for some rather disconcerting reading.
To my mind, it speaks volumes about the workings of this current government that the Ombudsman’s Office is dealing with “a 29 percent increase in complaints and other work coming in compared with the previous reporting year”
and that the Office “received and completed the highest ever number of complaints and other contacts about state sector agencies.”
Add to that the fact that “Official information complaints increased overall by 92% this year” and you have yourself something to seriously ponder over.
The complexity of the issues regarding the way Christchurch school closures and mergers have been dealt with is such that the Ombudsman has had to extend its review period in order to gather all the relevent information:
“Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem is continuing her investigation into the way in which the Ministry of Education undertakes consultation on school closures and mergers.
While the information gathering stage is mostly completed, and many affected schools have taken the opportunity to meet with investigators assisting the Chief Ombudsman, the complexity of the issues have necessitated an extended period of review. Dame Beverley is currently working with the Ministry of Education in order to assure herself that she has all information needed to form robust conclusions. This requires a number of further meetings and interviews with key Ministry staff.
It is important to bear in mind that any aspects of the processes which occurred at the Minister’s direction, including actual decisions about individual schools, are outside the scope of the Chief Ombudsman’s investigation. Rather, the focus is on whether, over a range of closure and merger processes, the Ministry undertook fair and meaningful consultation within the confines of its role.”
Also of interest is the Ombudsman’s findings on the government’s refusal to release funding information relating to charter schools. With a swift rap on the knuckles, the Ombudsman points out that, seeing as the decisions about how charters would be funded had been made when the request was made, there was no good reason to withhold the information.
Good to know the government is working honestly and openly for the good of all New Zealanders, isn’t it… Tui.