Ombudsman funding

Adam Bennett in the NZ Herald reports:

The Office of the is in “crisis”, says the Chief Ombudsman. …

Appearing before Parliament’s government administration committee, Ms Wakem said the office, which investigates complaints from the public stemming from their dealings with central and local government, was under “considerable pressure” in terms of staffing and funding and had been for the past three years.

She said the office’s baseline funding had been established on the basis it would be actively working on 800 to 1000 cases at any one time.

At present it was dealing with about double that. The office had about 300 cases it was unable to work on because of a lack of available investigators.

Its workload had also been boosted by about 270 complaints stemming from quake victims’ dealings with the Earthquake Commission and Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Ms Wakem said she had asked for about $1 million to be added to the office’s baseline budget of $8.6 million, so it could meet its operating costs and employ two more investigators.

The Office of the Ombudsman has a critical role in our Government. If the workload has increased as described, then there should be extra funding for the office.

There was a $550,000 boost in 2010 to their funding, so there has been some additional funding, but hopefully more will be provided in the 2012 budget.

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