WHAT IS GOVERNMENT BODIES LIAISON PROGRAM (GBLP)?
It is a program that comes under the Ombudsman Commission of PNG’s Regions & External Relations Division to identify problems within governmental processes and procedures to improve its service delivery. There are three (3) main activities under GBLP:
- Government Bodies Liaison Officer ( GBLO)
The primary objective of appointing OC Liaison Officers (LO) is to have contact persons in every government body (GB) or agency. LOs act on behalf of their agencies in responding to request for information about cases under investigation by the Commission.
- Internal Complaints Handling Mechanism (ICHM)
An approach developed by the Commission to assist the GBs to improve their internal complaint handling systems and practices.
- Public Education Program (PEP) in Government Bodies ( GBs)
Rolling out PEP into every government agency is important to educate the public service about the roles and functions of the Ombudsman Commission.
OBJECTIVE OF GBLP
- To establish networks, improve on relationships and create dialogue between the Commission and GB’s.
- To assist GB’s to have an effective complaints handling system where matters can be resolved internally if possible before forwarding them to the Ombudsman Commission.
- Allow the Commission more time to look into major systemic problems as most complaints will be resolved through ICHM.
WHY DID OCPNG INTRODUCE GBLP?
There was a need for such a program because:
- Of delays from GBs in responding to request for information by the Commission on matters under investigation and this normally frustrates complainants.
- Over 90% of cases under investigation by the Ombudsman Commission every year are either outside of its power to investigate or are administrative in nature which can be resolved internally through a proper complaints handling mechanism.
- The Commission experiences every year that over 90% of complaints received are either outside of its power to investigate, or complainants come straight to the Commission in the first instances without having exhausted all other avenues readily available to them.
- According to data not many public servants know the role and function of the Ombudsman Commission and how best to utilize its services.
IS THE GBLP WITHIN THE COMMISSION’S LEGAL BOUNDRY?
Section 218 of the Constitution states;
The purposes of the establishment of the Ombudsman Commission are: –
- To ensure that all governmental bodies are responsive to the needs and aspirations of the People; and
- To help in the improvement of the work of governmental bodies and the elimination of unfairness and discrimination by them; and
- To help in the elimination of unfair or otherwise defective legislation and practises affecting or administered by governmental bodies. Therefore GBLP unit is seen by the Commission as a proactive strategy in assisting GBs to prevent administrative mis-happenings and to improve and strengthen their internal controls and systems
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THE GBLP?
It is a Win–Win situation where all three major stakeholders of the program benefit.
- Get timely responses to their complaints.
- Are advised on appropriate avenues in which they can lodge their complaints if their complaints are outside OC’s jurisdiction.
- Can be confident on the credibility of the outcome as complaints are handled independently and transparently. Government Bodies
- Will detect early warnings of systemic problems and other important issues that need immediate attention through facts and statistics presented in the complaints.
- Can use statistics from complaints as a performance indicator to measure their organisation’s performance..
- Where ICHM installs normal check and balance processes, promotes good governance, transparency, accountability and improves administrative practices.
- Where ICHM restores credibility and integrity of their ability to handle complaints.
- Where ICHM assists to improve their records management, filing and information storage. Ombudsman Commission
- Fosters good relations with GBs through the ICHM and its request for information will be attended to in an effective and efficient manner.
- Will see a reduction in the number of complaints as most will be solved through ICHM.
- Will have more time to investigate major systemic problems and defective/mal-administrative practices within GBs.
WHAT SHOULD GBs DO TO SUPPORT THE GBLP?
GBs are expected to:
- Take ownership, support and drive the GBLP in each of their agencies.
- Appoint LOs in each of their agencies as contact person for the Commission.
- Establish ICHM in each of their agencies and ensuring that it is operating effectively
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE OMBUDSMAN COMMISSION IN GBLP?
Commission will fulfil the following expectations:
- Request GBs to appoint LOs as contact persons for the Commission.
- Train LOs and complaints officers and create complaints desks in agencies.
- Produce Tool Kit and other resource materials.
- Develop Minimum Standard Complaints Handling Framework and a standard model for all agencies.
- Provide technical assistance in the establishment of ICHM in agencies.
WHAT WILL INDICATE THAT GBLP HAS ACHIEVED ITS OBJECTIVE?
The followings will indicate the achievements of the program:
- When GBs are confidently handling their administrative complaints in an effective and efficient manner with fewer administrative complaints coming to the attention of the Commission for assistance.
- When responses to Commission’s requests are being responded to in an effective and timely manner.
- Improved relationships and communications with GB’s.
- More public servants are utilising the service of the Commission in terms of administrative complaints.