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Guest Editorial – June 2013: Black hole for correspondence – Housing NSW

The tenant group and tenant council records archivists decided to check if the same pattern existed in other states. To this end there were a series of letters and emails on a variety of subjects sent to the various housing bureaucracies and ministers. This mapping exercise revealed that the other states were far more responsive in the manner in which they treated correspondence. The responses generally were specific, definitive and delivered within an appropriate timeframe, rendering the response useful to those seeking information.

On June 15, 2009, the TRIM system for recording and managing correspondence was implemented by Housing NSW. TRIM did not improve the quality of the responses to correspondence, when given, nor did it shorten the timeframe for response delivery. The policies on Housing NSW’s website setting out timeframes for the supply of responses, and the nature of the content of such responses, disappeared off its website some years ago. Housing NSW has failed to provide replacements to date.

The following questions arise in the case of NSW’s Public Housing bureaucracy, and its handling of correspondence:

1. Is the ongoing failure to respond to correspondence a systemic problem?

2. Is the failure to respond to correspondence the result of a dysfunctional bureaucracy?

3. Is the failure to respond to correspondence an attempt to deny accountability?

4. Is the failure to respond to correspondence an attempt to suppress information?

5. Is the failure to respond to correspondence condoned, knowingly or otherwise, by the Minister of the day?

 

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