Numbers of active category 4 and category 5 approaches for complaints about inadequately investigated public interest disclosures

The request was partially successful.

Dear Commonwealth Ombudsman,

According to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s ‘Workplace practices manual for complaint management’, approaches to the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman are categorised into five categories. They are:

a) category 1;
b) category 2;
c) category 3;
d) category 4; and
e) category 5.

Some factors that will usually cause a matter to be escalated to category 4 are:

a) reluctance by an agency to acknowledge identified issues;
b) matters involving potentially sensitive issues;
c) matters involving an agency head;
d) matters involving improper behaviour by officials, or other possible disciplinary matters;
e) investigations requiring the use of formal powers under the Ombudsman Act;
f) the approach could not be resolved in 60 days.

Some factors that will cause a matter to be escalated to category 5 are:

a) the approach will, on average, take 12 or more months to deal with;
b) any approach that cannot be resolved at category 4.

According to the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s ‘Agency Guide to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 – Version 2’, public officials ‘can make a complaint to the Ombudsman if they believe the agency that received their internal disclosure did not properly deal with it (ss 5 and 5A Ombudsman Act 1976.’

Under the FOI Act, I would like access to documents setting out the number of:

a) active (i.e. unresolved) category 4 approaches for complaints about inadequately investigated public interest disclosures at the date of this request; and
b) active (i.e. unresolved) category 5 approaches for complaints about inadequately investigated public interest disclosures at the date of this request.

If it makes things easier for the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, you are:

a) invited to, pursuant to s 17 of the FOI Act, compile a document setting out each of the numbers of category 4 and category 5 approaches; or
b) provide a document, pursuant to the administrative release options available, with each of the numbers of category 4 and category 5 approaches.

To be clear, I do not want a total number of active category 4 and 5 requests. I want the number of active category 4 requests for complaints about inadequately investigated public interest disclosures at the date of this request and, separately, I want the number of active category 5 requests for complaints about inadequately investigated public interest disclosures at the date of this request.

Please provide the documents to me by return email.

Yours faithfully,

Louise

Information Access, Commonwealth Ombudsman

2 Attachments

OFFICIAL
OFFICIAL

Louise

We acknowledge the FOI application we received below on 6 September 2022 - reference number is FOI-2022-10096

Attached please find a decision in relation to this matter.

Polly Porteous
Director | Legal Team

Corporate Branch
COMMONWEALTH OMBUDSMAN
Ph: 1300 362 072
Email: [email address]
Website: www.ombudsman.gov.au

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present.

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