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Cayman Islands Cabinet gives green light for Office Of Ombudsman

Senior_ombudsman-1Cabinet has agreed to the outline business case for the establishment of an Ombudsman’s Office.

This gives a green light for work to begin to combine the Office of the Complaints Commissioner and the Information Commissioner’s Office to form the new office.

The independent office will also deal with complaints against the police and in the future responsibilities conferred on it under forthcoming data protection and whistleblower legislation.

Project team members will start work immediately, including meeting with staff, reviewing existing legislation and preparing detailed project plans. These plans will reviewed before a final decision is taken on whether to implement the project.
Cabinet’s move comes after the 2014 Ernst and Young (EY) report recommended the sharing of administrative staff between the Complaints Commission and the Information Commissioner.

In setting out its recommendation, EY added that “in conjunction with this, there is also scope to develop an office and post of Ombudsman to deal with areas including Freedom of Information appeals, and maladministration complaints”.

Government representatives note that the 2009 Constitution, section 120, details the position of Ombudsman. It calls for the office to be independent and report only to a parliamentary sub-committee set up by the Legislative Assembly for performance and budget matters.

Several countries have ombudsmen that deal with different types of complaints. There are more than 20 ombudsman services in the United Kingdom, which is introducing a Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill to have one entity deal with a variety of complaints. The reforms are being done to provide “a more effective and accessible final tier of complaints redress within the public sector”. Other jurisdictions that have taken similar steps include Ireland and the provincial government of Manitoba, Canada.

In the Cayman Islands the Commissions Secretariat, which successfully supports six independent commissions, utilises the same approach.

Officials have already developed an outline business case for the project, which lists objectives to which the project team must refer in its work. These include:
• “to maximise potential savings from management and administration costs through efficiencies while enhancing service delivery;

• to avoid additional management and administration costs for a stand-alone Police Authority;

• to enhance service delivery and good governance mechanisms by extending the range of services available and improving quality and timeliness;

• to create an independent police complaints process to achieve compliance with the Police Law 2010;

• to create a suitable framework for parliamentary oversight by establishing a subcommittee of the Legislative Assembly to cover the full range of proposed Ombudsman functions; and

• to ensure the new structure is robust enough to incorporate the proposed data protection and whistleblowing functions at minimum cost and, as far as possible, to ensure that future functions could be accommodated within the Ombudsman framework as required.”

The merger will avoid Government spending $661,000 to set up a Police Complaints Authority. It will also save approximately $205,000 from the merger of ICO/OCC. This will be achieved by eliminating a post at the head of one of the entities and combining two administrative roles.

These savings will fund the extra investigators required for investigations into police complaints. A reduction of $83,000in the overall Government budgetary requirement is expected.
The Project Sponsor is the Chief Officer of Portfolio of the Civil Service, and it is anticipated that the project will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Outline Business case can be found on the Deputy Governor’s website

Editor’s Note: While a technical project manager is still to be named, team members are as follows:
Peter Gough Project Manager
John Epp Technical Advisor
Christine Cooke Legal Advisor
Kashka Hemans Legal Advisor
Carol Best- Gould HR Advisor
Suzette Ebanks GIS
Anthony Ennis Technical Advisor




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