Limited EQC service resumes

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 17:46 02/04/2013
Gerry Brownlee
Fairfax NZ
GERRY BROWNLEE: Lianne Dalziel - the outgoing Christchurch East MP - has had her relationship with Earthquake Recovery Minister Brownlee blighted by attacks that she says became personal.

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Customers waiting for payments from the Earthquake Commission will have to wait longer despite a limited resumption of information technology services at the beleaguered agency today.

The commission spent Easter weekend in a communications shutdown after a series of privacy breaches, where third parties were mistakenly sent sensitive information, prompted a Government review of all its systems.

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee approved a restricted return to service today, allowing the commission to restart its claims settlement system and functions to pay its contractors.

However, claims processing, including payments to customers for quake damage, will still be slowed, and EQC staff still cannot email customers.

Online forms, such as the query form, Official Information Act request form and the complaints form remain down, and the commission's website, Facebook and Twitter accounts are still disabled.

Other functions would return when their privacy features were proved to be robust, Brownlee said.

"In the meantime, an internal audit is taking place, with all staff reviewing locally stored files and protecting material as necessary,'' he said.

"EQC is also identifying how best to manage the large spreadsheets required to document their work programme, and they are working with professional third parties such as private insurers and contractors on how to ensure EQC data is transferred in a manner that protects privacy."

Staff worked over the Easter break, with a team from the office of the government chief information officer, Colin MacDonald, to fix the problems.

"I want to thank the office ... for moving so swiftly to ascertain the extent of any issues EQC may have and address them, and those staff who dropped everything to work over Easter," Brownlee said.

"Most of all I want to thank the thousands of people with EQC claims for bearing with us since Thursday and over the days ahead as we work to ensure your personal information is as well protected as you would expect it to be."

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