Complaints processes in place

Everyone can now feel free to complain.

In its third review of governmental entities’ internal complaints processes in three years, Complaints Commissioner John Epp’s office has found that 70 agencies reviewed have at least some method in place to field and respond to complaints and concerns from the general public.

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Mr. Epp

‘The process of receiving and addressing complaints is a vital tool in learning how to better serve one’s clients,’ a report written by Mr. Epp states. ‘In the absence, or dysfunction, of an internal complaints process the benefits to an organisation could be lost.’

In 2006, during its first investigation of the subject, the complaints commissioner’s office found just about a third of the public entities reviewed had a formalised internal complaints process.

Mr. Epp said he was encouraged by the improvement, though he noted there are some agencies which should implement a formal process for complaints rather than operating an ad hoc system.

‘It is somewhat disappointing that a few major government service providers such as the postal service and Lands and Survey do not yet have a formal (internal complaints process) in place,’ his report stated. ‘The Postmaster General states she may have a (formal complaints process) in place at the end of 2008.’

Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow said her office always deals with public complaints.

‘Sitting down and writing about how to deal with complaints is just not my priority,’ she noted in the commissioner’s report. ‘Dealing with the complaint and often resolving the problem behind the complaint is far more important to me.’

Other agencies that did not have what Mr. Epp identified as a formal complaints process for customers include: Radio Cayman, the Cayman Islands Development Bank, the Shipping Registry, the Immigration Department, the Judicial Department, the National Housing Trust, the Ministry of District Administration, the Economics and Statistics Office, the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, and Mosquito Research and Control.

‘Entities currently operating an informal (internal complaints process) would benefit from the introduction of a formal, documented process,’ Mr. Epp wrote. ‘Formalising the (process) better ensures it is embedded within the culture of the organisation.’

The next step is to determine how well those complaints procedures actually work.

Mr. Epp said the complaints commissioner’s office will undertake another review to look at how accessible the complaints process is at the various agencies, and determine how easy those complaints are to file.

Instructions should identify who to make complaints to, how a complaint can be sent in, and how special considerations will be made for those with disabilities or who struggle with literacy.

Target dates should be set for completion of the investigation sparked by a particular complaint, Mr. Epp said.

‘The aim of this audit…is to review the complaints process of each governmental entity now has in place and to show where it should be improved upon,’ Mr. Epp said.

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