The OIA roundabout with the most open and transparent government

I read the news that Jacinda Ardern has poached a Green party press secretary to fill a recent vacancy in her office: Quote:

The Prime Minister’s office?has hired Andrew Campbell as its new chief press secretary.

Campbell is currently the chief strategist and communications director for the Green Party.

He replaces Mike Jaspers, who will move sideways to a more strategic position.

Campbell will begin on Monday 21 May, soon after the budget.

He will lead a team of three other press secretaries, including Leah Haines, another former Green Party staffer.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the rumoured hire to?Stuff??on Monday afternoon.

The position was advertised in late March.

Campbell has worked for the Green Party for a number of years on and off, including as the chief of staff and communications director.?He began his latest stint in December, and was a part of the Green Party’s negotiating team going into Government.

Campbell has also worked for NZ Rugby and teachers’ union NZEI.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said it was a great appointment and Campbell was “one of the best in the business.”

“He and the Prime Minister have my full blessing. He’s an enormously talented strategic communications person,” Shaw said.

“I think he’ll make a fantastic difference in the PM’s office.” End quote.

If you will remember I wrote about this process at the time and a clear conflict-of-interest issue. I initiated an OIA request about this on 19 April to Chris Hipkins’ office as he is the minister responsible for Ministerial Services, which is usually responsible for hiring of staff in ministers’ offices.

It asked:

Who made the decision to outsource recruitment of the Chief Press Secretary to the Prime Minister to JacksonStone & Partners?

What advice was received, if any, of a potential conflict of interest?

Did the Chief of Staff?to the Prime Minister highlight a potential conflict of interest? If so, to whom?

What advice was given by Ministerial Services regarding recruitment processes for the Chief Press Secretary to the Prime Minister?

How much has been paid to JacksonStone & Partners for recruitment advice and processes?

Who authorised any payments to?JacksonStone & Partners for recruitment advice and processes?

Have any payments been made and how were they calculated? If they haven’t been made, how will they be calculated?

How many recruitment agencies were approached or offered a role in sourcing candidates for the role of Chief Press Secretary to the Prime Minister? End of quote.

On 3 May, ten working days later, Chris Hipkins’ office shunted the request off to the Department of Internal Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister. This is OK at this stage as it is well within the 20-working-days requirement of the law.

On 4 May the Office of the Prime Minister has acknowledged receipt, and then on 7 May, yesterday, the Department of Internal Affairs acknowledged receipt of the request and informed me that they would be replying on 1 June as that was the 20th working day. Technically, it is true that it is 20 working days from yesterday, but it is in fact 32 days from the first request.

Moreover, they are shunting this request all about the place and each time it bounces to a new department it starts the clock running again.

This is a simple request, and the information would have been easily obtainable and to hand because as you can see from the news reports that the position has just been filled.

It really does raise the issue, though, of the conflict interest because why go through all that process when they could have walked down to James Shaw’s office and had a chat, which is probably what they did.

Meanwhile our government and prime minister keep shunting requests around and wasting time. My prediction is the 20 days will end and I will get a request for extension, which will take into Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave and there will be no ability to hold her to account because she will be elbows deep in shitty nappies by then.

It seems strange that the OIA process is longer than the commercial terms of trade?for getting invoices paid in the chief of staff’s missus’s firm.

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