New Zealand Law Society - Most Ombudsman complaints completed in 6 months

Most Ombudsman complaints completed in 6 months

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The Ombudsman received 2,191 complaints during the year to 30 June 2017 and completed a total of 2,285 to finish the reporting year with 430 complaints on hand, the Annual Report of the Ombudsman for the year to 30 June 2017 states.

The report says 79% of complaints were completed within three months and 92% within six months.

It says the Ombudsman Act 1975 is primarily used by individual members of the public.

"This reflects the intent of the legislation, which is to provide recourse for people personally affected by the administrative conduct of public sector agencies. In 2016/17, 84% of Ombudsman Act complaints were from individual members of the public and 12% were from prisoners or prisoner advocates."

Only 4% of Ombudsman Act complaints were made by corporate entities, media, government agencies, special interest groups, political party research units and Members of Parliament.

As well as complaints, the Ombudsman received 6,580 contacts during 2016/17 - down 15% from the previous year. Of these, 54% of contacts were from individual members of the public and 45% were from prisoners or prisoner advocates.

"This has reversed the trend of the past three years, where both an increasing proportion and an increasing number of other contacts were coming from prisoners," the report says.

"However, while prisoner contact has declined as the Department of Corrections' complaints telephone line came into operation, dealing with prisoner matters remains a large part of the work we do in responding to and resolving matters by telephone."

Half of the Ombudsman Act complaints received (49%) were made against central government departments. Other state sector agencies accounted for 28% of complaints, and 14% were made 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 Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (Immigration New Zealand), the Ministry of Social Development and the Inland Revenue Department. In terms of local government, Auckland Council generated the greatest number of complaints."

The Ombudsman says remedies for the individual concerned were obtained in 153 Ombudsman Act complaints and other contacts concerning Ombudsman Act matters. It also obtained a public administration benefit in 26 cases.

"The data supports our experience that public sector agencies are generally very receptive to Ombudsman investigations and inquiries and willingly take the opportunity to examine their conduct and remedy any administrative deficiencies that have occurred," the report says.

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