Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Data preservation, IRD, and the OIA - the saga continues

About a month ago, I made an OIA request for IRD's documentation around data sentencing for the Colmar Brunton poll data.

As you'll recall, IRD had initially refused my request for the Colmar Brunton poll data citing tax secrecy, but updated that in November. They said that they should have refused the request on grounds that the data requested did not exist, because they'd requested that Colmar Brunton delete the data before I'd requested it.

I received a response yesterday.

I've replied noting that I have made a new request - I'd like the records around the sentencing decision. If IRD wishes to withhold that information on same tax secrecy grounds as it refused my prior request for the data, I think they'd need to say so.

I'm interested in how IRD viewed its requirements under the Public Records Act. IRD has authority to sentence its own records to destruction, but there are processes required around that. And I'd like to see whether those were considered.

It sounds like they wish to withhold that information under the tax secrecy provisions in Section 81 of the Tax Administration Act; I've followed up with IRD to check (and expect it to take another 20 working days for them to tell me). Pretty broad power, that one, if so. Is there anything that IRD would reckon isn't a tax secret?

If the government had wanted to exempt IRD from the OIA full stop, wouldn't they have written that into the OIA legislation in the first place?

Of IRD were not in compliance with its requirements under its disposal authority, it sounds like it would be impossible for anyone to know that because anything establishing it would be deemed a tax secret and withheld.

Update: IRD has advised that they are still considering my additional request, and that they have extended the deadline on that request to 17 January. So, see you next year on that one.

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