In line with the “National Agenda for Change”, a major innovative initiative was launched to speedily resolve citizens’ complaints. Under this dispensation, Investigating Officers of Ombudsman Secretariat hear and decide the complaints at the doorsteps of complainants.
The project titled as “Swift Complaint Resolution (SCR)” was formally launched on 27th January, 2016 under which 36 districts were covered. Learning from the success of the Pilot Project which was evident from the overwhelming response of the general public, print and electronic media, the operation was enhanced to 90 sub-divisions in the second phase of the project which was started in April, 2016. The outreach of current system of administrative justice has been further extended to 138 districts and 435 sub-divisions throughout the country in the third phase of SCR. The project title “Swift Complaint Resolution” was substituted with “Outreach Complaint Resolution” (OCR) with the time limit of 40 days for disposal of cases. While taking into consideration easy access of complainants, cost effectiveness of the project and District profile, the project was implemented in 23 districts including far flung remote areas such as Hub, Lasbela, Karak among many others.
How it works:-
‘’Complaints are decided within 40 days period.’’
- Complaints are received and scrutinized by the Registrar, forwarded to I.Os.
- Tour schedule (venue & date of Hearing) of I.Os are advertised in advance.
- Hearing within 18 days of Registration.
- Preparation and uploading of Findings within 48 hours of Hearing.
- Findings are appraised and approved within 5 days of uploading.
Salient features of the mechanism are as follows:-
- Extending the outreach of the current system of administrative justice to the district and sub-district levels.
- Provision of speedy and free-of-cost redress to the grievances of the citizens.
- Provision of this service almost at the citizens’ doorstep.
- Provision of one-window services to the citizens across the governmental and jurisdictional divide and under the same roof.
- Promotion of harmonious and functional integration in the operations of the various tiers of Ombudsman offices for the efficient disposal of cases relating to Federal, Provincial, and Local Administration through the joint efforts of Ombudsman Offices all over the country.
- Reducing the burden on the courts.
- Decision within 40 days of filing the complaint, with the help of state-of-the art online facilities; a reduction in decision time from 60 to 40 days.
So far following arrangements have been made for successful implementation of the OCR initiative;
- Composing joint teams: One or more members from each Ombudsman’s Office are deputed to be a part of a joint team meant for one particular district. Investigating Officers (I.Os), who are senior advisors, consultants, have dedication towards this project to provide relief to the aggrieved ones.
- Hearing at common venue: These teams conduct hearings at the assigned district and tehsil headquarters and decide the case/complaint at the spot.
- Prior information and publicity: The program of the team is planned and advertised in advance in the press and the websites of the Ombudsman’s Offices.
- Venue: These hearings are conducted at the district or tehsil headquarters or in the offices of the Ombudsman, wherever the offices exist; otherwise the hearings are held in the office of the DCO/Deputy Commissioner/Assistant Commissioner.
- Method: each member of the team adopts the procedure provided in the law/regulations of the respective organization. In general, the method of mediation and reconciliation is emphasized and adopted.
- Under this project 18000 & above complaints have been resolved completely and relief has been provided since 2016.
- An average of 250 to 300 Complaints are almost daily registered under OCR project.
- With a vision to provide low cost, encumbrance-free and swift delivery of relief, against the maladministration of Govt. agencies closer to the citizen’s doorstep, within shortest possible time, it is now closely monitored.
- To closely monitor the working of investigating officers, fortnightly visits schedules under OCR was asked from Regional Offices, the schedule has now been sent on regular basis from all Regional Offices.
- Intimation letters regarding pending hard copies of draft findings are now sent regularly to the I.Os, whose findings are not received even after 10 days of their uploading on CMIS.
- Now the appraisement and disposal of the findings is done on priority basis for provision of speedy justice to the grievances of the citizens.