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    The National Ombudsman helps people move forward when they face intractable problems in their dealings with government agencies. We also have the authority to initiate investigations of our own. For example, if we receive a large number of complaints about a particular issue. The National Ombudsman is an independent body.

    What kind of complaints?

    When we receive a question or a complaint, we first take a look to see if we are the right organisation to deal with it. Does the complaint concern a government agency? And is it about how that agency operates? Complaints about central government or legislation itself, for example, are outside our remit. In addition, we think it’s important to give a government agency the chance to solve a problem directly. This means that we only deal with a complaint if someone has first tried to find a solution by contacting the organisation in question.

    You have filed a complaint. What now?

    When you file a complaint with the National Ombudsman, we will get to work for you. You will receive an initial response from us within three weeks. We will then let you know whether we can help you, or whether we will investigate your complaint. We may also refer you to another organisation.

    If we are in a position to deal with your complaint, we start by considering which approach is the best one to take in your situation. There are three options open to us:

    1.         Intervening: for a quick solution, we deploy what is known as intervention. We approach the government agency and ask if a solution is possible. Or we ask if action can be taken in the short term. There may also be other reasons for taking this approach. If a matter is urgent, for example. Or if the complainant has already had intensive contact with the government agency with no noticeable result.

    2.         Mediation interview: we enter into a dialogue with you and the government agency about which you have a complaint. The aim is to improve the contact between you and the relevant agency. This interview is entirely voluntary.

    3.         Investigation leading to a decision: this approach invites both you and the government agency to present your side of the case. We ask questions of you and the government agency. You are both given an opportunity to respond to the information we receive. When our investigation is complete, we will send you a letter or report containing our decision. When we make such a letter or report public, we ensure that your identity cannot be traced.

    Investigations on our own initiative

    The National Ombudsman can also carry out an investigation on its own initiative. In this capacity, we have considerable scope for action. For example, the government agency is required to cooperate with the investigation and so too are any witnesses we call.

    The impact of the National Ombudsman’s decision

    Government agencies attach great value to the decision of the National Ombudsman. In almost all cases, they follow our advice. But the National Ombudsman is not a judge. Our rulings are not binding, which means that no one is obliged to abide by them. A government agency decides for itself what the consequences of the National Ombudsman’s decision will be. By conducting thorough investigations that lead to cogent assessments and reports, the National Ombudsman exercises considerable authority and the Ombudsman’s decisions can bring about change in the public sector.

    Any questions?

    If you have any questions during or after our complaint process, you are always welcome to contact us. Give us a call at +31 70 356 35 63.