Yes. Good information is always a problem. That said, the weight that the Commission place on big data is probably one of the few things that are proposed that really worries me. Administrative data, and other quantitative info is useful for some things (mostly identifying what is going on and often where), but I'm entirely unconvinced that big data can explain why or how something happens in the same way that robust qualitative data can.
You're talking about some words, written by an independent commission, who have roughly zero to do with delivering actual services to disabled people. They might have some influence over the way services are contracted, in an indirect way, but in effect they like where things are going with EGL.
Government has been signalling for months now that the current ways don't work, and that they want government to move towards thinking about the person first, not the needs of the agency delivering something. This shift is distinctly separate from the commission report.
I get it that a lot of people think that the public sector can't be trusted to do anything, which is where this discussion appears to be going, but the changes are coming whether we like them or not. The status quo is broken. Something has to change.
The motivators they describe aren't the ones I'd use, and they almost certainly won't be the motivators that eventually get used to shift the public sector to stop doing things to people, and move them to working with people.
Things need to change. It will be hard, and lot of people will find it difficult to shift their thinking, but the writing has been on the wall for several months now that change is coming. It is not going to be optional.
From my perspective, this has nothing to do with sacking old ladies, it has everything to do with changing ways of thinking and fundamentally shifting how government designs and delivers services to the public.
Are we reading the same document? Those words have nothing to do with people who get services of any shape or form. They are specifically talking about the need to motivate the public sector to change to deliver services that are actually effective. Now I wouldn't have worded it that way, but the need to change is undeniable.
So in that context, yes I'm fine with government changing from delivering ineffective, reactive, and poorly designed services, to delivering services that are effective, that support and empower people to live their own lives, in the way that they want.
In the context of the report, this is in relation to government agencies needing to change how they operate, and to move away from the status quo.
In that context, I'm kind of ok with these principles. Things need to change. A lot. Across a whole bunch of areas. The move to citizen centred delivery looks like possibly the best move in public policy in decades. But only if it is done well.
Since I originally made a passing comment, I thought I should sit down and read the document you linked. It does definitely read as though someone who is well acquainted with the sector and system was heavily involved. I don't have any way to know who wrote it, but the level of trepidation this report is generating across Wellington is a good signal to me that the Commission isn't doing what government departments want, or coming to conclusions that won't rock the boat.
Reading the section you linked, the thing that I found interesting was that a lot of the ideas and concepts in it verge on the heretical to a lot/most government agencies. I'd say that this isn't a neutral document, it is really pushing some ideas that would demand fundamental shifts in the way government works.
In my experience of dealing with the productivity commission, they tend to write their own text. They don't appear to like the idea of agencies putting words in their mouths.
The other side of that is the excuse that the OIA is expensive and should be curtailed.
That is commonly claimed, but I don’t personally put much value on those statements. Heatlh and Safety is expensive too, more so than the OIA, but we don’t hear as many complaints about that.
And turkeys will vote to have Christmas and Thanksgiving twice a year.
Therein lies the rub. The turkeys in question will only do so if the public overwhelmingly demands that they do. That will only happen if the media collectively make OIA reform an enduring issue and create an environment where the status quo is untenable.
It is all one way, and it really shouldn't be. Just tacking an offence with a 2 year max sentence on it would introduce the spectre of transgressing ministers being kicked out of parliament for good, and it would spell career death for public servants too.
Houses would be cleaned very quickly, and I think you would see every single final document produced by public servants everywhere publicly available in very short order. It might even help to weed some of the new crop of political public servants out and return us to more apolitical days, but that might be hoping for too much.
I had more of a rant in the other thread, but at the moment I feel that allowing the Ombudsman to invoice agencies for investigations into their OIA handling would go a significant way towards addressing this. On one hand it isolates the Ombudsman’s funding from Parliament, so that it can be funded for its actual workload to uphold the law against shoddy agency interpretations, instead of merely the amount of work the government chooses to restrict it to. It also creates a direct financial incentive for OIA compliance which CEOs will be forced to account for in front of Ministers, Treasury and the public.
The Ombudsmen should definitely be better funded, I agree entirely on that, but I suspect that invoicing agencies for the cost of investigations wouldn't change much in terms of how the OIA intent is twisted/thwarted.
I think that most of the worst transgressors against the OIA actually wouldn't mind if their agencies had to pay for the cost of Ombudsmen. Their primary concern is delaying or with-holding, and keeping out of the media spotlight. This makes investigations a good tool for delaying the release of info, sometimes for significant periods. Besides, from their perspective, more money for "ministerial servicing" is generally fairly easy to come by.
Public accountability would be one mechanism to get compliance with the OIA, but so few actually pay any attention to those public accountability mechanisms that already exist that it would be pretty ineffectual anyway.
The media could (and sometimes does) focus much more scrutiny on agencies that are breaching their obligations, but I suspect it doesn't really invoke much interest amongst the populace, so doesn't get much of a priority at the editorial level.
I would say that in my honest opinion, the only way to fix the OIA is to introduce criminal sanctions that can be brought by the Ombudsmen against any minister, or senior public servant (CE's and levels 2 and 3 managers) involved in knowingly avoiding or ignoring their OIA legal obligations. I firmly believe doing this would see a huge change in the transparency of government operations, which would be a very good thing.