The municipal ombudsman can investigate and assess complaints about local authorities. Before doing so he may try to find an informal solution for the complaint.
When issuing an opinion, he or she may also make a recommendation to the municipal authorities aimed at preventing a recurrence of complaints. Although these opinions and recommendations are not binding, they are usually observed.
The ombudsman performs his or her work independently and impartially and is not subordinate to anyone. The municipal ombudsman’s duties and powers are laid down in the General Administrative Law Act. Municipal authorities have separate regulations pertaining to the municipal ombudsman.
The ombudsman’s duties summarised:
- Handling complaints
- Investigating at his or her own initiative
- Providing information and advice
The municipal ombudsman will only handle a complaint if you have already made the complaint known to the organisation to which the complaint relates. The organisation concerned must first have the opportunity to resolve the complaint itself.
Investigating at his or her own initiative
The ombudsman may conduct an investigation at his or her own initiative if he or she suspects, for example, that certain complaints are the result of a structural problem or if he or she believes that the integrity of public administration is at risk in some other way.
The municipal ombudsman spends a considerable amount of time informing citizens about the correct rules and procedures in relation to complaints.
In addition, the ombudsman and his or her staff provide information to groups in the form of, for example, lectures and/or training courses for students, internal complaints officers of municipal authorities, citizens’ advisers and other professionals who are involved in the handling of complaints.