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Statement of Intent 2010/13

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Although the Ombudsmen’s core activities are determined by legislation and (barring legislative change) remain relatively stable over time, the way they go about their business is shaped by the environment in which they operate. In 2010-2013, the Ombudsmen are facing increasing demand for their investigative and advisory services. This poses a challenge for their ability to deliver timely and effective outcomes for complainants. The Ombudsmen and the agencies within their jurisdiction are also operating in an environment of fiscal constraint, being expected by the Government and the New Zealand public to deliver better levels of public service with the same and in some cases fewer resources. Models of governance and public service delivery are also evolving, posing theoretical and practical challenges for service providers, the public, and for the Ombudsmen too. The broad scope of the Ombudsmen’s functions, and the large number of agencies that come within their jurisdiction, also mean the Ombudsmen are able to identify areas of administrative weakness, and to distil lessons and principles that can improve standards of public administration. In this context, the Ombudsmen have identified six intermediate outcomes and a set of strategic priorities aimed at making the most effective use of resources allocated to the Office.

Intermediate outcomes

  1. Improved administrative and decision making practices in state sector agencies;
  2. increased transparency, accountability and public participation in government decision making;
  3. potential serious wrongdoing brought to light and investigated by appropriate authorities;
  4. people in detention treated humanely;
  5. improved capability of the state sector in administrative, decision making and complaints handling processes and operation of official information legislation; and
  6. improved public awareness and access to Ombudsmen services.

Strategic priorities

  • Build on current work practices and recent system changes to deliver faster, better and more consistent responses to complaints, and identify measures to streamline complaints handling and investigation processes;
  • Operate efficient gateway or referral systems when complainants raise matters that are outside the Ombudsmen’s jurisdiction or capable of resolution in a more appropriate way; 
  • Identify significant systemic issues arising from complaints where resolution is most likely to result in improved administrative and decision making practices; 
  • Assist agencies to build capability in good administrative, decision making and complaints handling processes, and in the operation of official information legislation; 
  • Gather information to identify common problems and frequently asked questions, and use this information to prioritise our production of guidance and training materials;
  • Develop ways of better communicating key Ombudsmen decisions and settled principles so that agencies and requesters know the “rules” and can predict how they might apply in particular circumstances;
  • Increase accessibility of information about the Ombudsmen and their decisions through development of our communication tools, including a more informative website; and 
  • Promote proactive disclosure of official information where appropriate to reduce the administrative burden and transaction costs of reacting to individual requests for similar information.

We are also developing a comprehensive risk assessment and management framework, and have identified key projects aimed at maintaining the capability of the Office to carry out its operating intentions during 2010-2013.

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