The Investigations unit of the Ombudsman Office performs the core function which is to receive and investigate complaints from aggrieved persons against government agencies and statutory corporations and / or officials of such agencies and organisations.
The unit aligns itself with the Ombudsman Office mission to improve accountability by government departments and statutory authorities thereby promoting fair and reasonable public administration as well as to promote respect for human rights.
Complaints handling is taken seriously. In its endeavour to achieve the mission the Investigations unit utilises a complaint handling process that has the following features:
Fairness, credibility and independence
Both the complainant and agency complained about are afforded equal respect. All sides of the story are heard before a resolution is made. Appropriate remedy and feedback are given timeously to both complainant and “culprit” agency alike.
As the credibility of the Ombudsman Office depends largely if not solely on the independence of the Ombudsman in the conduct of his investigation impartiality is at all times observed in all investigations.
Commitment and effectiveness
The Office is committed to providing effective resolutions and compliance of the same. The complaints handling and investigations system of the Office reflects the needs, rights and expectations of the complainant achieved through recognition of the people’s rights to complain where they feel they have been wronged.
The Office’s commitment and effectiveness in the resolution of complaints are driven strongly by the fact that people seek help as a last resort having tried all other local remedies available to them. The Office does not end with provision of adequate remedial actions; the Office is seized with the task of achieving compliance with recommendations made.
Access and openness
The feature is heavily dependant on outreach programmes of the Office. The Office, mainly through public gatherings held throughout the country raises peoples awareness about their right to complain and to invite them to lodge their complaints with the Ombudsman Office, in person or in writing.
The function of the Ombudsman as a watchdog for good governance and promoter of human rights is highlighted. People are made aware of their fundamental human rights and of the rule of law in good governance and they are encouraged to participate in the protection and promotion of respect for the said rights.
People’s complaints are dealt with within a set timeline. Investigators are able to advise complainants about how long it would take to deal with their complaint. In cases where there are problems making it difficult for a complaint to be dealt with within the set timelines the complainant is made aware of such impediments. If additional time is required the complainant is notified and given an indication of the possible time it would take.
All in all the complainant is informed on the progress.
The Office developed Complaints Management System (CMS) to professionally manage the process of complaints management from receipt of a complaint through to its resolution. It ensures that management of complaints is an effective one and it makes it easy to plot trends and to record improvements every step of the way.
The CMS provide accurate data for planning, monitoring and evaluation.
In order to fully and effectively carry out its mandate the Office has a policy and channel through which a client can lodge grievances about the way his/her complaint was handled by the Office.
Such instances require prompt action by management to remedy the source of the grievance.
The Office is open to scrutiny by clients and there are audits of complaints handling procedures with the view of addressing deficiencies where they are found to exist.
The Office is open to scrutiny by clients.