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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Taxpayers dudded in $700k savings on commissioners at OAIC

The Canberra Times Public Eye reflects on how the public is the loser from government saves of $700k by appointing one commissioner instead of three to the Office of Australian Information Commissioner:
Long-time privacy watchdog Timothy Pilgrim was appointed Information Commissioner last week, a role he'd acted in for more than a year. He certainly deserves the honour. However, he doesn't deserve the government's treatment of him and his office. Pilgrim has been left to fill three statutory roles for the price of one: Information Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner and (acting) FOI Commissioner. This is despite the relevant legislation clearly intending that the jobs be held by different people.

The good news is that Pilgrim is saving us money. The three officers' salary packages total $1,175,050, while Pilgrim receives just $443,910. That's a $731,140 gift to taxpayers. (Thanks, Tim!)

The bad news is that, whatever Pilgrim's abilities, none of his roles will be performed as effectively as they should be. The office was designed in such a way that the at-times competing objectives of privacy and FOI law would have separate champions, balanced by the Information Commissioner's oversight. That useful tension no longer exists – and the public is the loser. Alas, the cost is likely far greater than Pilgrim's gift.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:33 pm

    FOI was supposed to be split and go the AG's office as part of a budget cutting measure. At the end of last year it became clear the legislation was unlikely to pass. OAIC had already been spending time and money on splitting the offices, rebranding etc, it was all aborted; so in the end it was money wasted.