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Increasing Ombudsman workload impacts on timeliness targets

New Zealand's Ombudsman received 13,684 complaints and other work in the year to 30 June 2013, which was up 29% on the previous year.

However, the Ombudsman completed 13,358 complaints and other work in the year, which was an increase of 30% in the previous year.

The Annual Report of the Ombudsman for the year to 30 June 2013 says the large increase in work has affected the timeliness of the Office's interventions.

"Our performance this year has not met our expectations for the timeframes within which some types of work should be completed," it says.

"Even so, our overall performance in this area has remained steady, with 93% of all complaints and other contracts completed within 6 months of receipt."

The report says the Ombudsman has been able to secure an increase in overall funding for the 2013/14 year onwards, which will enable the appointment of additional investigating staff.

The 11,008 complaints made under the Ombudsman Act in the 2012/13 year were up 23% on the previous year. A total of 11,161 Ombudsman Act complaints were completed, up 27% on the previous year.

The report says 74% of Ombudsman Act complaints were from individual members of the public and 23% were from prisoners or prisoner advocates. Only 2% were from corporate entities and special interest groups.

Just over half of the Ombudsman Act complaints (51%) were made against government departments, with 28% against other state sector agencies and 13% against local government agencies.

"The agencies generating significant numbers of complaints tend to be ones that interact with and impact upon large numbers of people, such as the Department of Corrections, the Earthquake Commission, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Immigration New Zealand), the Ministry of Social Development and the Accident Compensation Corporation," the report says.

The report also notes a continuing increase in the number of official information complaints received, with the 2,374 Official Information Act complaints an increase of 92% on the previous year, and the highest number ever received.

However, of the Official Information Act complaints received, 1,012 were from a single complainant, concerning delays in responding to the same request by various school Boards of Trustees. The report says that even removing these complaints from all calculations, the 1,361 OIA complaints received in 2012/13 were up 26% on the previous year.

 

Last updated on the 16th October 2013