12.4 Ombudsmen Act
Ombudsmen are Officers of Parliament and Commissioners for Investigations. In the local government context they have three roles:
LGOIMA information requests - a requestor can ask the Office of the Ombudsman to review the council’s response to their request
Protected Disclosures Act 2000 (or whistle-blowers’ act) – the Office of the Ombudsman receives disclosures regarding matters of serious wrongdoing by an organisation, and has the power to investigate while protecting the whistle blower
Maladministration - an ombudsman has the ability to investigate and make recommendations to the council on most decisions (by both elected members and council staff) where there are no formal appeal processes for that type of decision. An investigation would focus on ascertaining whether a decision was:
- contrary to law
- unreasonable, unjust, oppressive, or improperly discriminatory, based wholly or partly on a mistake of law or fact or was wrong
- a discretionary power that had been exercised for an improper purpose or on irrelevant grounds.
Legal Services respond to complaints investigated by the Office of the Ombudsman on behalf of the council.