Administrative fairness means that decisions made are arrived at fairly. The concept is based on the recognition of “natural justice” and “procedural fairness” to ensure that decisions of administrative bodies are arrived at fairly. Ombudsman fairness is both procedural and substantive and is about achieving justice with respect to administrative complaints. Principles of administrative fairness include:
The Ombudsman will only become involved as a last resort in complaints where there is alleged inappropriate or incorrect application of policy, practice, procedure or process. Examples of administrative unfairness include:
Maladministration can involve acts, omissions, decisions and recommendations that result in inefficiencies, improprieties, poor service and bad management.
Due process involves respecting the rules of procedural fairness. All sides to a dispute deserve a fair opportunity to be heard; an opportunity to fully respond to a complaint made by the “other side”; reasonable notice to the parties affected by a complaint and allowing a fair length of time for individuals to prepare and/or respond; and clearly defined, unbiased reasons for decisions reached.
To protect the interests of the complainant, the respondent and any others involved in an Ombudsman enquiry or investigation, confidentiality will be maintained throughout the complaint process.
The Ombudsman and her staff maintain confidentiality in all matters during the course of their duties.
Confidentiality is different than anonymity: an individual complained about must be informed of the complaint.
The Ombudsman and staff of the Office of the Ombudsman are impartial enquirers/investigators of complaints. The Office is an advocate for administrative fairness.
All relevant parties will have full information about the process and steps being taken to resolve or investigate a complaint.