Reassurance On State Sector Information Security

  • Simon Upton
State Services

State Services Minister, Simon Upton, welcomed the State Services Commissioner's report on information security at IRD and WINZ as offering both reassurance to the public and a clear analysis of the issues facing the departments.

Mr Upton said that Mr Wintringham's investigation had been useful and timely on two counts:

"First and foremost, it has reassured the Government and the public that the information that these departments hold is generally secure. While there will always be people who are tempted to use information dishonestly, the investigation has found no evidence either of an environment which permits the widespread improper disclosure of personal information by employees, or any suggestion that unauthorised disclosure of personal information is endemic".

"New Zealanders needed to have that reassurance", Mr Upton said.

"Secondly, the investigation has thrown a spotlight on the issue of information security in the public service. Here the State Services Commissioner has uncovered grounds for concern. The investigation has identified areas of vulnerability that need to be secured.

"New Zealand's public service has enjoyed high standards of integrity from its individual employees, and their personal commitment to protecting their department's information. The report shows that these two departments have relied on that good culture and need to develop further their risk management systems.

"The practices in place have worked so far, barring the failings of a tiny proportion of the state sector's 30,000 strong workforce, but for the future, these departments need to put in place a comprehensive and integrated risk management approach to information security.

"The Commissioner's recommendations will go a long way to ensure that New Zealand's Public Service retains its high reputation for integrity. The Cabinet has directed the State Service Commissioner to advise the Government by the end of February on the steps he's taken to hold the Chief Executives to account for their implementation of the report's recommendations.

"More urgently, we have asked the Commissioner to provide the Cabinet with a clear statement on the policy that New Zealanders can expect will be applied in respect of dismissal for serious breaches of conduct by the first Cabinet meeting in January", Mr Upton concluded.