NZ Immigration Service Needs Urgent Attention

The long awaited Auditor General’s report confirms that all is not well within the NZ immigration service and it’s time to sort it out.

From a press release by Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Immigration on 4 June 2009

“Immigration NZ – another time bomb left by Labour”

“The release of the Auditor General’s report “Inquiry into Immigration Matters” confirms that Immigration New Zealand is a service that needs urgent attention.

“This report confirms that the mess left by the last Government is even worse than anyone thought,” says Dr Coleman.

“We’ve got a picture of a service with big problems, and I’m putting the onus right on the Chief Executive and the State Services Commissioner to deliver on their assurances that they have a plan to put Immigration New Zealand right.”

The Auditor General visited 10 Immigration New Zealand branches, interviewed 100 staff, and looked at more than 400 visa and permit decisions. The report found an unacceptable variation in quality of decision making between branches, training provided to staff, use of delegations, procedures for reducing back logs, and systems and practices for decision making, (including risk assessment, information documentation and verification of supporting documents) and quality control.

“Basically it’s a picture of a siloed organisation where people don’t talk to each other, the management practices are poor, and there’s a lack of standardisation in the way things are done across the service. (ed. and this is unique to the NZIS?)

“Immigration New Zealand staff are dedicated and hard working, but they are let down by a dysfunctional organisation. Furthermore, they don’t feel it’s an environment in which they can raise concerns further up the chain.

“It’s clear from the report that the decision to ask the CE to reintegrate the Pacific Division back into the core of INZ was the right one. The Auditor General confirmed my worst fears about what was going on in that division, and backed it up with the finding that 42% of the decisions made in that division were either questionable or poor. (ed. it’s just confirmed what everyone else already thought)

“The Auditor General has made a list of detailed recommendations for change. It’s going to take more than just that – it needs a total overhaul of processes and a change in culture. The CE and the State Services Commissioner have asked for the chance to fix this department. I am calling them in to reach agreement for a timetable for fixing the service. They’re going to be held to their promises to turn this around,” says Dr Coleman.”

Strong words, but will it be enough to bring about the change that is needed. Is it possible to dismantle and rebuild an organisation that has been seen to be inefficient for so long? The Habr family may think that not much has changed since the resignation of Mary Anne Thompson and a new government took over. See inefficient immigration service still ruining people’s lives

Mary Anne Thompson (former head of the immigration service) is due to appear in court in relation to charges relating to dishonestly using her CV to gain pecuniary advantage.

She was also the subject of a conflict of interest enquiry over the the immigration status of members of her extended family.

Other recent immigration scandals have involved Tito Phillip Field and Lianne Dalziel