Hey MSD, stopped being dicks

**UPDATE 2**

After my gentle provision of another chance for them to reconsider, MSD has decided that they will play nice. I just received the following email:

Dear 

We have sought advice, and accept that the information you have provided is sufficient to meet the eligibility requirements. A response to your request for information will be provided to you accordingly. 

Regards,

Official and Parliamentary Information Team : Ministerial and Executive Services
Ministry of Social Development

Thanks MSD. I’m glad you saw reason.

So I’ve had a crack at what you may call “journalism” and I’ve lodged a number of Official Information Act requests with various Government Departments. Most of them have come back in good faith and said “cool bro, we’ll get onto it”. But one is being the naughty child.

A mighty bag of dicks you might say.

Just who is that bag of dicks? Well if the headline didn’t give it away we need to have a chat about reading comprehension. But the troublemaker is the Ministry of Social Development. Or MSD. Or the Ministry of Shitty Dickheads. I’m unsure which.

Anyway, here’s the email correspondence to date (I’ve removed what I’m requesting because I want it to be a surprise!):

Dear 

Please find attached a letter regarding your Official Information Act request to the Ministry of Social Development.

 Regards

Official and Parliamentary Information team   |  Ministerial and Executive Services
Ministry of Social Development

 MSD letter

 

Now I have already discussed my reasons for remaining pseudonymous, so begrudgingly I provided them with a postal address that they could mail the information to. I don’t even need to do that, but hey I wanted to play nice.

So what was their response? Did they say “thanks, that’s awesome. We’ll begin working on it now.”

Did they fuck.

OIA1

What’s section 12(1) you might ask? Well it’s the following:

Any person, being—

  • (a)a New Zealand citizen; or
  • (b)a permanent resident of New Zealand; or

  • (c)a person who is in New Zealand; or
  • (d)a body corporate which is incorporated in New Zealand; or
  • (e)a body corporate which is incorporated outside New Zealand but which has a place of business in New Zealand,—

may request a department or Minister of the Crown or organisation to make available to him or it any specified official information

Do you see the part where it says I have to provide proof? Because I sure as hell don’t. I’ve asked people on Twitter what they thought about this.

Oh and Hayden and Graeme are lawyers. So LAWYERED MSD.

But still wanting to play nice I said:

Under the act I think I only need to say I’m a New Zealander and that satisfies it.

What “proof” are you asking for?

And this, THIS is what they think you need to provide to make an OIA request:

Proof of address e.g.  a recent bank statement or power bill, or proof that you’re a New Zealander, e.g. NZ passport. 

Oh I’m sorry MSD. I think you might be fucking wrong. So this is where we’re at:

I emailed them back and said:

In the politest terms I believe you’re overstepping the requirements of the act.

I am a New Zealand citizen, and a person in New Zealand. Nowhere in the act does it say that I have to provide you with a proof of address. I didn’t even have to provide you with a postal address. However you requested one and I gave you one.
Am I to interpret that this is a refusal unless I provide you with “proof”?

While I sent this, I also called the Ombudsman’s office. The gentleman I spoke to was wonderfully helpful. He said that some Government Departments may have policies around asking for this sort of thing however there is no obligation on the person requesting the information to provide it. Stating you are a New Zealander is satisfactory. He advised me to email the CEO of MSD and then make a complaint if it’s not resolved.

So I’ve emailed Brendan Boyle and now I’m waiting to hear back.

I’ll keep you updated though.

Oh and one more thing: why the hell do MSD email addresses have 001 after people’s names?!

**UPDATE: 10.40am** 

MSD has replied. They said:

Dear 

The Ministry is happy to provide a response to your Official Information Act request. However, in order to enable us to do this, the Ministry needs to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria under the Act.

Unfortunately a postal address is not sufficient evidence to meet this requirement.

If you are unhappy with our request to prove your eligibility under the Act, you are welcome to contact the Ombudsman, whose address is:

The Ombudsman
Office of the Ombudsman
PO Box 10-152
WELLINGTON 6143

Regards,

Official and Parliamentary Information team I Ministerial and Executive Services
Ministry of Social Development

Mustering up my wankiest 6th form essay-writing style, I replied:

Thank you, however I beg to differ on a point here.

After speaking with an Ombudsman, he said that there is no burden of proof on me as the individual requester. Rather stating I am a New Zealander – or am in New Zealand – is sufficient. If I breach this (i.e. I’m not a New Zealander) then I can be punished after the fact.

Yours is the only Government Department that has thus far not complied with my request (and thus the Official Information Act).

I am asking if you would like to reconsider your position, otherwise I interpret this as a refusal under no grounds and will have to lay an official complaint with the Ombudsman.

 

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7 Comments

  1. They have 001 because they number the email address by the number of people with that name. E.g there is jsmith001 jsmith 002 jsmith003 etc.

  2. Interesting read. Sounds like some little bureaucrat on a power trip knowing our govt departments.

    IIRC the reason for the email address format is because they are a large ministry they often have double ups with employee names (and so email addresses) so they just number everyone from the get go.

  3. I always thought the numbers in the email address for everyone was so people couldn’t proactively email staff without having being given the email address, like you could if they used the standard format.

    But now I can’t even remember where I heard that. I’m sure I remember an ex-MSD employee telling me but I couldn’t guarantee I’m not making up that memory.

  4. Here’s my ongoing 2007 unaddressed Ombudsman complaint, I told the Ombudsman that the msd did not provide me with any correspondence on their latest unlawful decision to stop my wife’s SLP in dec 2015 and so the ombudsman asks for msd correspondence!

    to Brendan.Boyle0., brendanboyle, Info, OnlineSupport, commission
    URGENT

    Subject: Urgent Please Fwd to Brendon Boyle MSD( on advise of Ombudsman office)
    Ombudsman complaints Ref :W56715 : [ACC & CCDHB] & # 275465 MSD 2007

    Without Prejudice
    #418625

    The ministry stopped my wife and my SLP benefit without providing notice or reason so obviously no written correspondence from them can be provided.
    I do not have correspondence from the ministry to send to the ombudsman( as was requested by her office ) on this latest stoppage as it was done without any notice or reason.
    The Ombudsman office on 16/12/15 said (after it would not investigate my 2007 msd complaints or address concerns ) they are hinting they will not investigate the 2015 msd complaint about further unreasonable and unlawful actions of the msd in special circumstances.

    XXXX XXXXX complaint to the Ombudsman office.
    My wife’s other carer who is also unpaid has had his “job seeker” benefit cut 26/10/15 for no reason as they will not tell him what info they need from him that he did not provide them with. He has no income or payments which the ministry were informed of the ministry and SSAA are now unresponsive to his communication and will not provide information.
    On 29/7/14, after completing a non specific application for financial assistance, the ministry refused to provide my son with information on his eligibility and would not grant him a benefit, They told him on 31/7/14 that the full time ( unpaid)work he does as a carer was not “compatible” with JS. Not telling him about his eligibility was unlawful.
    They then denied (SLP) without providing him with the ability to review the decision, they used unofficial ssa and their libel to say they” lapsed “his 29/7/14 completed non specific (*emergency)financial benefit. Refusing to provide him with the information requested or grant a benefit.
    A benefit was not granted until he was forced by them to fill out a JS application in dec 2014 .The they stopped his benefit without reason on 26/10//15 and refused to provide him with information on or review that decision.
    As I am third party to his dismissed SSAA appeal 169/14 by reason of the ministry’s 12k report( which contains libel and fraudulently conceals circumstances) I can make a complaint on behalf of my son about the unreasonable and unlawful actions of the ministry and its SSA “authority”. I have his consent to make the complaint .

    I am a full time carer for my wife who suffered a serious accident and ACC( and the CCDHB) would not purchase and provide care for (or treat) her “catastrophic” severe injuries and started assault and battery.
    ACC did not and have not funded any of its legal obligations- the court holding the 2007 “urgent” appeal in the dc”sin die” without lawful remedies that were requested.
    The Crown started their assault and battery on 4/4/6, trying to end my wife’s life(time) serious injury claim. The court would not transfer or hear the three appeals and adjourned them without remedies.The claimed CCDHB and medical providers treatment injuries were ignored by ACC and needed relationships were destroyed by ACC criminal management.The HDC did not investigate the complaints.

    The history of Crown actions is one of criminal case management. the Ombudsman would not investigate the complaints against ACC, CCDHB or the ministry.
    I am not able to access wclc law center physically, this matter is urgent. We have no income (*and no legal relationship with the ministry or ACC due to their actions). The Ombudsman has now forced us to contact the MSD chief exec Brendon Boyle (with serious unaddressed concerns from 2007 ref Ombudsman complaint against the ministry from 2007)- and the urgent matter of msd stopping my wife’s SLP benefit again (dec 2015 )without providing a reason or a way to access back paid full and correct legal entitlements in the special circumstances.

  5. The msd have not stopped “being dicks”.

  6. It is sufficient that people like myself are able to read, comprehend and be suitably disgusted with the way New Zealand citizens are routinely treated by government departments and ministers. Take strength from this.

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