October 17, 2021

Cayman Islands Ombudsman recommends Government Ministry to apologize

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Office of the Ombudsman Press Release – Hearing Decision 60 involving the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development

The Ombudsman’s Office has released Decision 60 in regards to an FOI request involving the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Th press release follows:

The Applicant was not satisfied with the Ministry’s response to her original request for information on stamp duty abatements. The Ombudsman found that the Deputy Information Manager misinterpreted the original request, searched for only part of the request and failed to interview the Applicant. This misinterpretation resulted in the Applicant having to submit a second request which ultimately resulted in the Applicant obtaining the requested documents.

No order or direction was made since the Applicant, on her own initiative, was able to secure the records she was seeking. However, the Ombudsman took an additional step and recommended the Ministry apologize to the Applicant for their mistake:

[30] The civil service, led by the Deputy Governor, has recently announced a strategic plan which seeks to establish a “world-class” civil service. One of the five main goals of the plan is to deliver outstanding customer service. To that end, the government has placed 30 customer satisfaction kiosks in public locations to gather feedback. I think it is safe to say that if the Applicant had access to such a kiosk, she would not have selected the “happy face” as a reflection of her customer experience.

[31] Sometimes great customer service means saying you are sorry. Ombudsmen around the world regularly recommend apologies as a way of making things right. An honest and sincere apology has the potential to initiate the restoration of trust and to repair a mistake. While apologies cannot undo the past, they can mitigate the negative effects of a mistake.

[32] In my role as Ombudsman I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to recommend the Ministry apologize to the Applicant. Apologies seem to be the hardest words to say for some governments and civil servants. I hope this is not the case in the Cayman Islands because this seemingly small action can make a meaningful difference in the government’s relationship with the people of the Cayman Islands. A well-placed apology is an important tool in any customer-service-focused organization’s tool kit.

[33] In my opinion the Ministry made a mistake when it responded to the Applicant’s first request. Rather than spending time defending its actions, I believe the Ministry would have been better served by offering an apology. I am confident that such an action would have ended this matter and this decision would not have been necessary.

The public is encouraged to read the full text of Decision 60 which can be found on the Ombudsman’s new website: www.ombudsman.ky

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