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Who is the Ombudsman and what does he do?

By Gibson Sheat

Who is the Ombudsman and what does he do?

The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent authority which handles complaints and investigates New Zealand’s government agencies.

Investigations are initiated following receipt of a complaint or on the Offices' own initiative to address wider administrative issues.

The Office manages complaints from individuals about the decisions and administrative acts of government agencies, including district health boards and local government. This includes official information complaints which arise where a request is made to a government agency. This may be to obtain information and the applicant is not happy with the response, or the information is not provided within 20 days.   

On receipt of a written complaint, the Office may either resolve it without further investigation or investigate further and form an opinion on whether or not the agency has acted unreasonably.  Agencies are not required to implement the Offices' recommendations; however, usually they are accepted. 

The Office also provides guidance and training to agencies before they implement policies to mitigate future complaints against them by the public.   Complaints relating to private individuals or decisions by tribunals and courts are amongst some areas that are outside the Offices' jurisdiction. 

The Office may refuse to investigate a complaint if alternative remedies are available, if the complaint is over a year old, if the complainant lacks standing, or if the complaint is made in bad faith. 

The Office provides a valuable and vital public service. More information on the Office, its services and how to access them may be found at this address: http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz

 

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