Annual Report 2013/2014 - full report
This year we have begun to reap the benefits of the additional resources granted to us by Parliament for the 2013/14 year onwards, which has enabled us to appoint additional staff to progress the amount of work we are receiving.
For the first time since an unprecedented increase in our workload began in 2011/12, we have been able to reduce our backlog. In 2013/14 we completed more work than we received and we also improved the overall age profile of our ongoing work on hand. This is largely due to our increased resources and the efficiency gains from the structural and procedural changes we have implemented over the past few years.
However, these achievements have not come without some pain. Our performance this year has not met our expectations for the timeframes within which some types of work should be completed. In particular, we were not able to complete most of our priority investigations within the 6 month target timeframe that we were aiming for. We recognise the significant efforts of our staff who have worked extremely hard this year to progress a large volume of work and to respond to ongoing queries from complainants whose patience was, at times, understandably running out.
Overall, we ended the year in much better shape than we started, with 6 additional Investigators appointed and beginning to assist in progressing significant amounts of work, and 1,602 complaints and other work on hand, down from 2,072 the previous year. We managed this while dealing with the second largest amount of work we have ever received, completing 19% more work than the average amount completed each year over the past 10 years.
We have also seen a significant impact on good government arising from our work this year, with remedies for the benefit of public administration being obtained in 91 cases, almost 3 times as many as in the previous reporting year. This reflects our new strategic direction, with an overall emphasis on contributing to the following intermediate outcomes:
- government is increasingly fair, responsive and reasonable;
- state sector agencies are progressively more open and transparent;
- the public is informed and better able to participate in government decision making; and
- tate sector agencies are increasingly more accountable.
Our interventions have resulted in public administration improvements in a wide variety of areas across a number of agencies, including:
- changes in law, policy, practice or procedure;
- agency agreements to review law, policy, practice or procedure;
- the provision of guidance or training to agency staff; and
- the provision of additional resources.
Significant changes brought about by our interventions include:
- improved resourcing and procedures to enable the Earthquake Commission to effectively manage the large volume of information requests arising from the Canterbury earthquakes; and
- a review of 1,155 visa applications by Immigration New Zealand, coupled with an overall review of relevant policies, procedures and training for immigration staff.
Our advice services were also in high demand, with a significant increase in requests for us to provide training and presentations on the official information legislation, good decision making, effective complaint handling and the role of an Ombudsman.
Outcomes for individuals
As well as assisting to improve public administration overall, we also achieved remedies for the benefit of the individual concerned in 919 cases, including:
- changed decisions;
- reconsidered decisions;
- reasons or explanations for decisions;
- rectification of omissions;
- financial remedies; and