The systemic intervention process
The Ombudsman carries out systemic investigations on significant and high-profile issues. An investigation may be short and focused or it may cover wide-ranging issues and take a number of months to complete.
The Ombudsman monitors developments in the public sector to find wider issues. They gather direct feedback from the public and information from their complaints teams, and government agencies and media reports. They research these issues and decide what needs to be taken further. Sometimes that means working with the agency directly or launching an investigation.
When the Ombudsman decides to work directly with an agency, this may be a reasonably informal process, or they may agree to a more formally structured resolution plan.
Systemic improvement investigations are only undertaken after a thorough scoping of the issues.
The investigation process is governed by the Ombudsmen Act and largely works the same way as any other Ombudsman investigation.
The Ombudsman works closely with the agency as part of the investigation. They clearly identify the scope and purpose of the investigation at the outset. They then gather information from the agency through meetings and information requests.
They may also decide to consult with or ask for information from others. In most cases they will interview staff from the agency and other people.
After investigating, the Ombudsman will prepare a report on the agency’s acts and decisions.
The Ombudsman may tell the agency how it can do better. This is called a recommendation. The Ombudsman has no power to force an agency to accept a recommendation, but most are accepted. The final investigation report will usually be tabled in Parliament and published on the Ombusman's website.