Over 180 additional publicly funded organisations and their administrative actions will be subject to independent oversight by the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly.
The Ombudsman will be in a position, from May 1 2013, to examine complaints from members of the public about the administrative actions of public organisations including Universities, Vocational Education Committees, the Student Grant Appeals Board, FÁS, the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), and the new Family Support Agency, among many others.
The public must first try to resolve their complaint with the public organisation but can then proceed to make a complaint to the Ombudsman once that ‘action’ occurred on or after 1 May 2013.
In order to provide guidance and assistance to public bodes under her remit the Ombudsman, together with the Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, Padraig Mac Lochlainn TD, today launched two Guides: The Ombudsman Guide to Good Public Administration – ‘Six Rules for Getting it Right’, designed to help public bodies provide a first-class service to their customers; and ‘Listen, Respond, Learn, Improve’, which provides advice on setting up internal complaints systems.
The Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly said today marked “a landmark day for accountability in Ireland”.
She also said the proposal to extend the remit of the Ombudsman to include almost all publicly funded organisations that deal with the public was first mentioned 25 years ago.
The Ombudsman also highlighted the importance of public bodies having efficient and effective complaints systems in place for their customers. “Good complaints systems not only resolve difficulties but can provide a valuable and free mechanism for the public body to receive feedback from its customers”.
The Ombudsman already has the power to examine complaints against Government Departments, local authorities and the HSE (including public hospitals).