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Porirua City Council welcomes Ombudsman report

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Porirua City Council has welcomed a report just published by the Office of the Ombudsman into the Council’s official information practices.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier assessed the Council’s performance across five areas: Leadership and Culture; Organisation structure, staffing and capability; Internal policies, procedures, resources and systems; Current practices; and Performance monitoring and leaning.

"Porirua City Council’s open leadership impressed me," said Mr Boshier in his report. "The Council’s culture of information release, and respect for the people of Porirua, was evident in its practice of actively engaging with diverse voices when making decisions that affect their community.

"The Chief Executive has an open leadership style and models openness and transparency in her work. Community engagement and consultation is excellent and social media presence and digital reach is good."

He said the Council’s handling of LIM applications is fit for purpose; administration of meetings is going well and elected members understand their responsibilities in relation to LGOIMA requests.

Council Chief Executive Wendy Walker said it was reassuring to learn that the Chief Ombudsman made no formal recommendations for Porirua City Council while many of his suggested actions have been or are being progressed.

"One of the actions Mr Boshier suggested was livestreaming Council meetings and we now have that up and running so that the public can tune into our meetings," Ms Walker said.

Other suggested actions include providing specialist LGOIMA expertise and training; for internal policies to consider the public interest test where appropriate; and for improvements in record keeping and guidance material to support staff .

In his report, Mr Boshier acknowledged the Council for the positive and open way it engaged with his investigation even while it overlapped the Covid-19 lockdown period with its unique challenges.

"I look forward to continuing productive engagement with the Council in the months to come as it works through my suggested action points," he said.

Ms Walker welcomed the independent review of the Council’s LGOIMA compliance and practice.

"It has provided helpful feedback on areas for improvement and it was pleasing to have such a positive endorsement from the Chief Ombudsman of our open culture and practice here at Porirua City Council."

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker said: "As a Council we aim to be open and transparent in what we do. It’s great to get independent confirmation that our policy and practices align with this intention."

The Chief Ombudsman is tasked by Parliament to monitor agencies’ official information practices. Porirua City Council was one of four councils to be reviewed in 2020 as part of a routine schedule of reviews carried out on all councils.

You can read the full report on the OIA page of the Council website.

3 Feb 2021