Request for information held by Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination agencies
The Ministry of Health (the Ministry) partially refused a request for information on the basis that the information was held by Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination agencies (NASCs), and NASCs are not independent contractors engaged by the Ministry for the purposes of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA).
NASCs are organisations contracted by the Ministry to work with disabled people to identify their strengths and support needs, outline what disability support services are available, and determine their eligibility for Ministry-funded support services.
Under section 2(5) of the OIA, any information held by an independent contractor engaged by a Department, Minister of the Crown or organisation in its capacity as such contractor, is deemed to be held by the Department, Minister of the Crown or organisation.
The Ombudsman found that the basis on which the Ministry had partially refused the request was not justified, in that NASCs are independent contractors engaged by the Ministry for the purposes of the OIA.
After considering the Ombudsman’s comments, the Ministry arranged for the NASCs to respond to the information request. In these circumstances, the Ombudsman did not consider it necessary to make a recommendation. This case note contains some helpful information about how the Ombudsmen interpret and apply section 2(5) of the OIA.