Cost of information - Costs of Transparency

                                                            -  Whangarei Leader – 31 March 2009

                                                            -  The Whangarei Report – 26 March 2009

                                                            -  Northern Advocate – 19 March 2009  




Costs of Transparency


There has been much media debate about costs to reply to Official Information Act requests after an article in the Whangarei Leader on Tuesday March 17 2009.  Radio waves have also hummed.  I am one, who has requested information on Council owned property, including information on one recently sold without offer on the open market.  Maybe these questions are an embarrassment to Council. Others’ requests, I am aware of, should simply require printing a transaction list off the new $1.5 million computer system (‘despite $1.5 million of unbudgeted expenditure in replacing our ageing computer system with new Tech One software’ extract from WDC Annual Plan 2007-2008) My requests are simple Asset Registers and property sale details of a Kioreroa Road property that should be readily available for audit purposes.

A concerned ratepayer has contacted me, as a requested list detailing Consultancy charges for sewage is going to cost in excess of $500-00. For a basic accounting practice?

I make no apologies for asking questions. The charge of $60-00 per half hour equates to $249,600-00 per annum. On all accounts only our CEO, Mark Simpson, is in this salary bracket, so if he is the one completing these OIA requests, I am sorry for loading his duties. One would hate to think less senior staff are completing these requests and profiting as Under the Official Information Act costs are ‘Any charge will be related to the cost of the labour and materials involved in making the information available’ and charges made are only permitted to recover costs incurred.  Fact - If there was more transparency in the process of our council, there would be no need to ask questions.


Warren Slater