Hamilton, Bermuda – July 1, 2016
Ombudsman for Bermuda Submits Her Annual Report for 2015
Hamilton, Bermuda : Victoria Pearman, Ombudsman for Bermuda, issued her Annual Report for the calendar year 2015.
The Ombudsman’s Annual Report for 2015 reports on the work of the Office in its 10th anniversary of service. The Office opened to the public on 1st September 2005 and celebrated its 10th year during the last reporting year. The Report highlights the efforts and progress made and reflects generally on the work of the Ombudsman over the past 10 years. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the Office’s principles, gauge its position and plan the way forward.
The Report indicates that the Office of the Ombudsman received 232 requests for assistance in 2015. This included 161 new complaints. As a result of implementing a prioritisation strategy, the Office was pleased to report that, as of 31st May 2016, 82% (83 of 101) of outstanding complaints that had been carried into 2015 have been addressed. There were no systemic investigations launched in 2015, and the Office concentrated on individual complaints. Of the 29 recommendations the Ombudsman made in 2015 concerning administrative action, 25 of them were accepted by authorities in an effort to improve their policies, procedures and practices. Other recommendations remain under review. Among its other responsibilities, the Office’s main priorities were to address outstanding complaints from previous years and to improve complaint turn-around times.
The Report outlines work on best practice, good administration and accountability. It provides guidance on assisting members of the public to obtain Government-held records under the greater public access to information regime which came into force in 2015. This is vital for improved transparency in Government, an area which the Ombudsman seeks to promote.
The Report contains information consistent with the Office’s objectives to broaden education of the public. Useful general information from departments, namely Social Insurance, Health, Environment & Natural Resources, Customs, Land Surveys & Registration, and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, is detailed. Selected complaint summaries are included which demonstrate shared learning and the wide scope of matters with which the Office dealt, as well as a section to empower members of the public to be their own advocates. It also describes the Ombudsman’s work in the community to advance public knowledge and awareness, and provides reference resources for the public and authorities.
In her message the Ombudsman noted: “Our complainants are often people in our community who rely on us to confidentially ensure public officers hear and address their concerns, complaints and grievances. Most of our work is not reported publicly. We have learned that a single, seemingly small complaint can be the impetus for significant improvements. This mirrors what we have learned about our Office. Even the work of a small team can make a big impact to affect change and improvement over time. The Ombudsman is an ally and a resource in the cause for good governance. Watchfulness, vigilance and attentiveness are necessary. Understanding the Ombudsman’s role requires an appreciation that she is not an advocate for any side, but an advocate for what is fair.”
“In closing”, the Ombudsman said, “I wish to thank all who have played a part in the growth and accomplishments of the Office in 2015. Our team is committed to assisting the public and to assisting the Government to improve service to the public. This is in keeping with the tradition established in the first 10 years of this Office and our continued advancement as we navigate the challenges to come.”
Limited copies of the Report are available for the public at the Office of the Ombudsman located at: Dundonald Place, Suite 102, 14 Dundonald Street West, Hamilton HM 09. The Report can also be downloaded from www.ombudsman.bm, along with all previous reports published by the Office.
- The Ombudsman is an independent, non-government official who investigates complaints from the public about maladministration in the delivery of public services.
- The Ombudsman Act 2004 is the governing legislation.
- Section 24 of the Ombudsman Act 2004 requires that, within six months of the end of the year, the Ombudsman shall submit an Annual Report to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, with a copy to the Governor and the President of the Senate.
- Sections 15-17 of the Ombudsman Act 2004 lay out the process by which the Ombudsman may make recommendations further to an investigation to which the authority is required to respond. Pursuant to section 24 and 17, the Ombudsman may submit a special report to Parliament outlining an authority’s: (1) failure to notify the Ombudsman of action proposed to be taken; (2) failure to take any action; (3) action that in the Ombudsman’s opinion has been inadequate or inappropriate.
- For more information, contact the Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda at 296-6541.