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Govt takes steps on client data protection

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/05/2017 Karen Sweeney

New social service provider contracts won't require individual client level data to be collected until a new data protection policy is in place, the government has assured.

The Ministry for Social Development was forced to investigate last month after a technical issue caused online folders where private information would be stored to become accessible by other providers.

An advisory group within the Social Investment Agency will oversee the process for gathering and sharing data, Children's Minister Anne Tolley and Amy Adams as minister responsible for social investment, said on Wednesday.

"The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will be writing to providers to advise them their 1 July 2017 contracts will not require the collection of data until the approach has been agreed and suitable IT systems are available," Ms Adams said.

"We then intend to write to providers to agree a contract variation by the end of the current financial year."

The project has lost around six months with needing to involve the Social Investment Agency to complete the work.

But the delays aren't all negative according to Mrs Tolley.

"I think we've gained a lot by starting out at this point in time and I think a much better relationship with our providers and iwi and all of the people we want to be working with to get better outcomes for New Zealanders," she said.

Prime Minister Bill English has stood by Mrs Tolley, denying that moving the project from her ministry to Ms Adams' agency was a sign he had lost confidence in her.

The process will be overseen by independent data consultants and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

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