27 July 2012

There is always somebody who lets the side down.  And there are degrees of let down!

An investigation, begun late last year after five Work and Income staff were uncovered providing information to debt collectors, has led to another three dismissals. Perhaps more concerning is a media claim that as many as 10% of WINZ staff may be inappropriately accessing beneficiaries’ details.

This seems an aberration.  In both the 2007 State Services Integrity Survey and again when the survey was last conducted in 2010, only 4% of public servants indicated that they had seen the misuse of departmental information (92% said they hadn’t seen information misuse, and another 4% indicated that they didn’t know.)

In the 2012 UMR Mood of the Nation survey public confidence in public servants rated 6.2 ( doctors, teachers, nurses, farmers, chefs and builders scored better – and bankers, lawyers, politicians, real estate agents, stockbrokers, and business leaders rated worse.) In the pecking order of departments, only Te Puni Kokiri at 23 rated more poorly than the Ministry of Social Development at 26. The Fire Service at 90 and Police at 78 were the highest rates agencies.

The State Services code of conduct requires State servants to be fair, impartial, responsible and trustworthy; that is how public confidence in government and trust in the State services can be maintained.

Police in Britain are on a public confidence rollercoaster.  Together with the military, the need for the Police to plug the hole left by the collapse of the G4S arrangements for Olympic Games security improves their ratings. This makes up for slump in confidence in Police when the Leveson inquiry uncovered extensive contacts between media and police, and the need for special instructions to Police on contacting and socialising with reporters because of a propensity of some to leak information.

Public sector pariahs this week are two English prison officers that the Leveson inquiry was told were paid by News International papers for providing agency information. One was paid over £35,000 over 14 months and the other more than £14,000.