Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 December, 2021 at 3:17 pm by Andre Camilleri
The Public Service is putting forward several recommendations so that entities that oversee government operations do so to the highest standards. With these recommendations, these entities, including the Ombudsman’s Office and the Auditor General’s Office, would lead by example and follow the same levels of transparency and governance as they demand from the public administration.
This was outlined by the Principal Permanent Secretary, Mario Cutajar, during a visit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Anġlu Farrugia, who was presented with the latest publication from the Public Service, ‘Governance Action on the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Annual Report 2020’.
Among the recommendations made in this publication is the need for established procedures for employing people, including persons of trust, at entities such as the Ombudsman and introducing deadlines for case responses, to reply to the client in the shortest possible time. Mr Cutajar pointed out that there are currently more than 20 cases where the Public Service has been waiting for a reply from the Ombudsman for between two to five years.
Mr Cutajar said that another recommendation concerns the need for the Ombudsman to clarify with those seeking his services which complaints he can investigate and those he cannot. This is because a quarter of the cases received in 2020 complained to the Ombudsman without seeking redress from the public administration. In this scenario, the Ombudsman would take on a customer care role rather than a protective role on the operations of the public administration.
Finally, it is recommended that the Ombudsman’s recommendations should be based on facts. The Principal Permanent Secretary said that the general direction in public administration is that the recommendations of institutions such as the Ombudsman are accepted and carried out, but he remarked that a department could not accept a recommendation that was contrary to an established law or policy.
Mr Cutajar reiterated the importance of these bodies for governance in public administration, and that the recommendations being made by the Public Service would further strengthen these institutions to provide the highest standards of transparency and accountability.
This is the sixth publication launched by the Public Service this year. In the publication presented to the Speaker today, an account is taken of each case received by the Public Service from the Ombudsman, including what action has been taken if closed, and at what stage the process is pending if the case is pending. It can be seen from the publication that in 98% of closed cases brought by the Ombudsman, the Public Service acted well, and the cases were resolved and recommendations implemented.
The publication is available on the Public Service website: https://publicservice.gov.mt/en/Documents/Governance_Action.pdf