The Office of The Ombudsman is an independent statutory authority, established
in 1989 under the Ombudsman Ordinance, to redress grievances arising from
maladministration in the public sector through independent and impartial
investigations to improve the standard of public administration.
Since December 2001, the office had severed its links with the Administration
and had become a corporation sole. It has set up its own administrative system and
now recruits contract staff on terms and conditions determined by The Ombudsman.
Directly responsible to the Chief Executive, The Ombudsman serves as the
community's monitor on government departments and public bodies specified in the
schedule to the ordinance to ensure that:
||bureaucratic constraints do not interfere with administrative fairness;|
||public authorities are readily accessible to the public;|
||abuse of power is prevented;|
|| wrongs are righted;|
||facts are pointed out when public officers are unjustly accused;|
||human rights are protected; and|
||the public sector continues to improve its quality, transparency and efficiency. |
Two exceptions to the monitoring system are the Hong Kong Police Force and
the Independent Commission Against Corruption, both of which have their own
separate bodies for dealing with public complaints.
The 18 major public organisations in the schedule are: the Airport Authority,
Employees Retraining Board, Equal Opportunities Commission, Financial Reporting
Council, Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Hong Kong Examinations and
Assessment Authority, Hong Kong Housing Authority, Hong Kong Housing Society,
Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong Sports Institute Limited, Hospital
Authority, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Legislative Council Secretariat,
Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, Office of the Privacy Commissioner for
Personal Data, Securities and Futures Commission, Urban Renewal Authority and
Vocational Training Council.
Apart from investigating complaints, The Ombudsman may initiate direct
investigations of its own volition into matters of public interest and widespread
concern, and publish the reports. This proactive and preventive approach aims at
addressing problems affecting a broad spectrum of the community. The direct
investigations are particularly useful in redressing administrative flaws of a systemic
nature and addressing fundamental problems or underlying causes for complaint.
Since 1994, when The Ombudsman was empowered to undertake direct
investigations, 57 such investigations have been completed — four of them in 2006.
These four concerned:
||Monitoring of assigned-out cases by the Legal Aid Department;|
||The medical fee waiver system;|
||Administration of The Mid-levels Administrative Moratorium; and|
||The System for Processing Applications for Disability Allowance by the Social Welfare Department. |
The reports of all direct investigations have been published and are available for
public scrutiny at the office's Resource Centre.
The Ombudsman Ordinance also empowers The Ombudsman to investigate
complaints of non-compliance with the Code on Access to Information against
government departments, including the Hong Kong Police Force and the Independent
Commission Against Corruption. The Ombudsman is also empowered to act as an
independent review body in respect of an alleged breach of the code.
The office received 15 309 enquiries and 4 617 complaints in 2006, compared
with 14 400 enquiries and 4 389 complaints in 2005. The areas attracting substantial
numbers of complaints were related to error, wrong advice or decision, failure to
follow procedures or delay, negligence or omission, disparity in treatment, lack of
response to complaints, staff attitude and ineffective control.
Although The Ombudsman has no authority to enforce its recommendations,
over 95 per cent of the recommendations made have been accepted by the
organisations concerned in 2006.