Cape Reinga

Historic Claims Privacy Breach Investigation Complete

19 June 2015.

Social Development Ministry Chief Executive Brendan Boyle says an investigation by the State Services Commission’s Chief Legal Advisor into a privacy breach earlier this month has provided reassurance there was no systemic issue in the handling of this sensitive information.

Mr Boyle says, “We take privacy extremely seriously, it was important we got to the bottom of this and we have. It’s reassuring to know that due to the openness of staff, the independent review was quickly able to identify what had happened and how.

Even one privacy breach is disappointing, but the independent investigation reports that this was an isolated event caused by human error.”

The Ministry of Social Development was contacted by a claimant who had received a letter meant for someone else. The Ministry apologised to both people affected by this and suspended offers to claimants while the investigation was carried out.

“I am pleased to note that the investigation did not identify any other instances of a privacy breach in the Two Path process.

“To date more than 300 people have received offers and just over 70 offers remain pending. Just over seventy per cent of offers made to date have been accepted. We will resume sending offers this week to those people impacted by the temporary halt and expect all those offers to be made by the end of this month.

“We are addressing all the recommendations in the report and will implement the changes to the mail out process before resuming the Fast Track offers.

“We appreciate the patience of those whose offers were delayed and apologise for that.

“It is essential that every part of our organisation puts the protection of client information very clearly at the forefront of our decision-making. While no system has zero risk of human error, we’re taking every possible step to prevent a similar privacy breach happening again.

The Report also looked into allegations of other privacy breaches. Lawyer Sonja Cooper was clear that she was not aware of any recent breaches due to the provision of personal information to her or her firm in error.

“When mistakes do occur I expect swift action to remedy any impact a breach might have on people and that has happened in this instance,” Brendan Boyle says.