Friday 23 April 2021

IRD OIA denouement

It looks like I'd failed to blog the denouement to the IRD data OIA mess last year. Let's fix that now.

Loyal readers will recall the history:

It's been a long saga, and it isn't over yet. But the end is in sight. 

On 12 February, 2019, I put in an OIA request for the data from the polling that IRD had commissioned from Colmar Brunton on tax attitudes. 

On 12 March, 2019, IRD declined the request on grounds that it would be considered sensitive tax data. I brought the matter to the Ombudsman the next day. But it later turned out that they had ordered the data destroyed. 

On 1 November, 2019, IRD gave me revised grounds for having refused the request: that the data had been destroyed. 

I had a chat with the Archivist's Office about what's required for that kind of destruction of public records, then went back to the Ombudsman.

On 12 March, 2020, the Chief Ombudsman provided a substantial slap to IRD and directed them to get the data. 

At last night's meeting of the Khandallah Economics Association, I'd noted some of these problems where it seemed, at least to me, as though IRD was acting as though it thought the OIA didn't apply to it, and that it seemed to be ignoring its requirements under the Public Records Act. 

But then I'd realised I'd failed to blog the last bits. Covid-year, eh?

IRD eventually provided some of the data. They provided it in aggregated form. They also provided the individual-level data, with every detail blacked out. I've put everything up in a folder, here. You can also find IRD's explanation of its reasoning about why they could black everything out. 

On seeing the data dictionary, it was rather less interesting than I'd expected. I'd thought it was going to be about attitudes towards specific taxes. Instead it was about trust in IRD. It would be fun to play with anonymised data from that survey. But it was no longer worth protracted battles via the Ombudsman's office. I thought it was going to have data about views on capital gains taxes and land taxes and the like; nope. All the back-and-forth is taxing. 

But I'd also put in a query with the Chief Archivist because it looked like IRD had ordered data destruction in ways contrary to their disposal authority. Then I OIAed for any note sent from the Archivist to IRD about it. And I got this from the Chief Archivist. 

I read this as a bit of a slap to IRD for ignoring its requirements under the Public Records Act. 

I should have blogged this ages ago. Apologies!

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