Second inquiry by State Services over budget leak

The State Services Commission has announced they investigate statements made and actions taken by the Secretary to the Treasury Gabriel Makhlouf following the leak of budget data two days before budget day last week.

This is in addition to an inquiry into the leak itself, announced last week.

Makhlouf seems to have handled things poorly, and the Government was messy with their handling as well.

But two inquiries as a result of the National Opposition ferreting for something so they could grandstand and embarrass the Government.

What has been achieved overall? More self inflicted discrediting of Parliament and politics in general. I don’t see anything positive from all of this.

There is no benefit to the public.

Last week:  Inquiry into unauthorised access to Budget material

The State Services Commission will undertake an inquiry into how Budget material was accessed at the Treasury.

The Secretary to the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf, asked the Commissioner to inquire into the adequacy of Treasury policies, systems and processes for managing Budget security.

“Unauthorised access to confidential budget material is a very serious matter,” said State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes.

“Mr Makhlouf has asked me to investigate and I am considering my options. This is a matter of considerable public interest and I will have more to say as soon as I am in a position do so.”

While there is no evidence of a system-wide issue, Mr Hughes has asked Andrew Hampton, the Government Chief Information Security Officer, to work with the Government Chief Digital Officer, Paul James, to provide assurance that information security across the Public Service is sound.

“This is an important issue because it goes to trust and confidence in the Public Service and in the security of government information,” said Mr Hughes.

“The inquiry will seek to understand exactly what has happened so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Today:  Investigation into statements made and actions taken by the Secretary to the Treasury

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has today announced an investigation into recent questions raised concerning the Chief Executive and Secretary to the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf, and his actions and public statements about the causes of the unauthorised access to Budget material. 

The investigation will establish the facts in relation to Mr Makhlouf’s public statements about the causes of the unauthorised access; the advice he provided to his Minister at the time; his basis for making those statements and providing that advice; and the decision to refer the matter to the Police.

Mr Hughes said the questions that have been raised are a matter of considerable public interest and should be addressed.

“It’s my job to get to the bottom of this and that’s what I’m going to do,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes has asked Deputy State Services Commissioner, Mr John Ombler QSO, to lead the investigation. It will be done as quickly as practicable and the findings, and the Commissioner’s view of them, will be made public.

“Mr Makhlouf believes that at all times he acted in good faith,” said Mr Hughes. “Nonetheless, he and I agree that it is in everyone’s interests that the facts are established before he leaves his role on 27 June if possible. Mr Makhlouf is happy to cooperate fully to achieve that. I ask people to step back and let this process be completed.”

Neither Mr Hughes or Mr Makhlouf will be making any public comment until the investigation is finished. Mr Makhlouf will be working as usual during this period.

The investigation announced today is separate to the inquiry announced last week into the unauthorised access of Budget information. The Terms of Reference and who will lead this inquiry, which is expected to take some months, will be announced shortly.

What about an inquiry into why politicians waste so much time (and public service time) doing negative crap that has no real benefit to the country?

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  1. Gezza

     /  4th June 2019

    State Services Commission enquiries usually have the credibility & reliability of a $20 Rolex.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  4th June 2019

      Bugger me, you don’t need two inquiries to figure out what happened. It’s blatantly obvious they cloned the live system including the bit that updated the live public search index. Then they happily put the new files onto the clone and presto – security breach.

      The only question is who didn’t know what they were doing and why.

      • Pink David

         /  4th June 2019

        “The only question is who didn’t know what they were doing and why.”

        That is the only question both inquires will not ask.

  2. David

     /  4th June 2019

    I think its quite important to establish if the the head of treasury and a top civil servant knowingly misled the public by inferring that a NZ politician had broken the law to cover his own backside and called in plod to double down. I would like to know if my finance minister was complicit in this as well.
    Best practice would have one of the countries top civil servants to tell the public the truth and let the cards fall where they fall. I think its important that lessons are learned from this and its not repeated given NZ has a highly respected and neutral public service.
    The shit storm was largely a media driven thing and just because they are irresponsible idiots looking for clicks shouldnt stop us from having the truth.

  3. oldlaker

     /  4th June 2019

    Why is it of no interest that the head of one of the nation’s most powerful agencies may have lied to the public and possibly his own minister in order to cover his butt? That seems to me be of deep public interest. Our mandarins are highly paid and very influential. The opposition and journalists are right to care about this and to expose it.
    Are you saying that we should not be told about these things so as not to discredit politicians and civil servants generally? I think attempting to shift blame to cover up Treasury’s slack security is what really damages our political system and public trust in it.

    • duperez

       /  4th June 2019

      Is there anyone who thinks it ironic that Paula Bennett called for an inquiry because of something that might be damaging to our political system and public trust in it? 🙃


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