Monday, 22 March 2010

A bouquet to the Ministry of Women's Affairs

You may recall I made an Official Information Act request of the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MWA to its frequent correspondents apparently) back in Feb. I was requesting information to check, and analyse, some figures the Minister of Women's Affairs was using about the percentage of women appointed by Govt to various boards etc in the last quarter of 2009.

Last week I blogged a few days before their 20 day deadline, wondering if they would meet it, given that I had not even had an acknowledgement email to my request to their main email addy on their website.

So I was quite surprised to get an email from the General Manager Corporate of the MWA, on March 18th (the aforementioned deadline), explaining that they had noticed my blog posting and sadly had never received my email. It appeared that it had been jettisoned mistakenly in the spam filter overnight (I had sent it in the evening) and they were suitably apologetic.

Since then I've had an exchange of emails with the GMC of the MWA and a phone call with him and another staffer at the Ministry to work out how they could get me the information I want, given that a lot of it they don't hold and there are privacy issues. They have nutted out another way to supply some broader info, which I'm hoping will provide me with some good data to have a chomp at for a future blog post about the representation of women in Govt-appointed board spots. Fingers crossed I'll have it in a fortnight or so.

All in all, a very impressive proactive approach by the MWA. I have no idea how they picked up on my blog post (Google Alerts I guess?), and had intended to approach them again over the weekend, or go to the Ombudsmen or something, but instead I'm writing a nice post about the wonderful service from these public servants. Yay!


Deborah said...

It suggests that someone at MWA is reading The Hand Mirror...

Hugh said...

Most government departments have either in-house or contracted media monitoring units that keep track of any mention of the department in the media. That includes blogs. I expect the MWA, given its small size, outsources the task, but I'm unsurprised that they picked up on this.

Deborah said...

Gosh, thanks for setting me right like that, Hugh. As it turns out, that wasn't my experience of working in a government department, Hugh. We certainly got comprehensive media clippings, every day, but I didn't see any blog "clippings" ever. I was in a well-resourced government department, that picked up mentions in tiny print publications, but never blogs. Even high profile, big name blogs. I'm going with someone at MWA reading THM as the more likely explanation.

Hugh said...

Well I certainly wouldn't be surprised if somebody at MWA does read THM, but I thought, given the formality of OIA responses, the latter was more likely.

I also worked in a large, well-resourced etc government department, and I did see clippings from blogs - not a whole lot, admittedly, but our media monitors were certainly very aware that blogs were part of their area of responsibility.

But, whatever. It's a positive outcome, that's the main thing.

Anonymous said...

My sister had a job working for a government department that consisted of scouring the media for items that were relevant for them and notifying those that were higher up. A lot of it was delivered straight to her desk but she did do a bit of hunting around as well.