Wednesday 21 July 2021

Not a systems problem?

Were you aware that all the queues outside the old Soviet shops weren't a systems problem, but a problem of demand just being too high?

Here's the head of MIQ, last week, on the MIQ booking system. 

The joint head of MIQ has responded to allegations the booking system is broken, saying a current high demand for rooms explains the difficulties travellers have had trying to lock down a spot.

Speaking from Parliament on Wednesday, joint head of MIQ Megan Main said high demand had put pressure on the room allocation system for the 31 MIQ facilities across New Zealand - although the Government was looking for a solution.

“This isn’t a systems problem so much as a demand versus supply problem. Right now, the demand is high.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health finally admitted that its vaccine roll-out graph was just made-up stuff intended on illustrating their high-level intentions, despite it being made to look like there were more thought through numbers and projections underlying it. 

Emails show one official, faced with six different reporters asking for the data behind the graph under the Official Information Act, wanted to claim the figures were commercially sensitive.

"The data doesn't match that illustration as that illustration was a smoothed and high level visual of our plan," he wrote.

"Can we please go with the approach that the picture is an illustration at a high level and the underlying data is subject to commercial sensitive information as an approach?"

But a staff member from the Director-General of Health's office knocked back the idea.

"To say that the numbers doesn't match the illustration would require us to say under the Act that the information didn't exist (section 18(e)). Given I have seen the numbers that underlie the diagram, and you've noted that it does exist, I don't think this would stand scrutiny should the requesters complain to the Ombudsman, which I suggest they would probably do. Refusing on the grounds that the information is commercially sensitive doesn't appear to be a strong reason either."

The ministry eventually responded to journalists saying there was no specific data that informed the graph and declined the Official Information Act requests. Forecast data was released, but it didn't match what was in the illustration, or split out forecast first and second doses.

RNZ sent a further Official Information Act request asking for communications regarding the graph but the response was delayed. When a second deadline went unmet, RNZ complained to the Ombudsman.

The Ministry of Health released the information before the Ombudsman investigated the complaint.

RNZ asked the Ministry of Health if it had updated internal guidelines regarding the creation or release of graphs or illustrations following the incident.

A spokesperson responded: "As with any piece of information we publish, we take care to ensure that the information is helpful and accurate.

"As noted in our OIA response, the original graph was based on forecasts and was created to be a visual representation of what the vaccine rollout would look like. Our vaccination programme is largely tracking in line with these projections."

The ministry has since released a new graph that makes sense.

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