Friday, September 12, 2008

LGO: The flaws exposed 5

FLAW NUMBER 5: Local Government Ombudsmen do not keep adequate records.

The following is an example but there are many more.

This is the Freedom of Information request I sent the Local Government Ombudsman on the 23rd July 2008.

Out of those cases still on record which one has remained undetermined for the longest period of time?

What was the reason for the delay? What was the subject of the complaint? Which Ombudsman/Ombudsmen were involved?

This was the Local Government Ombudsman's response.

Of the cases that are still on our database, the one that has taken the longest to reach a decision was a case received in August 1992, on which no decision was taken until March 1998. In all, the case was open for 2,036 days.

The file has long since been destroyed, so the reason for the delay is no longer on record. The complaint was about Managing Tenancies. The complaint was handled by the London office,and for most of the period concerned the Ombudsman was Sir Edward Osmotherly. Before 1993, the Ombudsman was Sir David Yardley.

I responded with the following question.

Why was my case excluded. It exceeds the one you quoted by some 268 days?

The actual figure is much longer than 268 days for two reasons. My complaint was not determined until 8th August 2008 some weeks after my question was asked. In addition, I only went back to my second complaint (March 2002) although my case has been ongoing since June 1997.

The LGO final response.

I have answered your FOI request correctly according to the records on our database.

My Final response.

I accept you have answered my FOI request according to the records on your database. It's just a shame the records on your database are incomplete and as such not fit for the purpose.

As a result, I see no point in anyone submitting a Freedom of Information request to the Local Government Ombudsman's office whilst you rely on a database that is clearly incomplete and out of date.

I thought that this was a Freedom of Information issue and that's why I tried to bring it to your attention, however, I now accept your assurance that the inaccuracy of the database which you use to supply Freedom of Information responses is not a Freedom of Information issue and will try an alternative means of bringing this problem to someone's attention.

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