News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – Michael DeSilva, Ombudsman for Bermuda, has submitted his Annual Report for 2021 to the Speaker of the House of Assembly in accordance with his statutory duty under the Ombudsman Act 2004. The Report was tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday (July 1) and is now available to the public.
The casework of the Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda includes complaints and enquiries. Complaints involve investigations that lead to a form of resolution of an issue; enquiries are limited to providing guidance or assistance to help determine the best next steps. The Office received 156 complaints and 49 enquiries during 2021, which is consistent with recent previous years. A carry-over of 56 complaints and enquiries from the previous year made the total case number 261 for 2021,ofwhich 200 (or 76%) were closed or resolved by year’s end. 61 cases have been carried over into 2022.
The Annual Report provides selected anonymised case summaries that explain the complaints’ issues, the interventions made by the Office, and insights that each case reveals on review. A series of “Did You Know?” questions and answers provide new information that came to the Office as a result of its enquiries, which is being shared inthe report for greater public awareness.
The report also includes summaries and recommendations from two own motion investigations: “Bus Service – Communications”, a review to improve communications by the Department of Public Transportation when significant bus service cancellations occur; and “A Future for Criminal Injuries Compensation”, a comprehensive review of the functioning of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. These Special Reports were submitted to the Speaker of the House of Assembly in February 2022.
The Annual Report 2021 represents the work of the former Ombudsman, Victoria Pearman, and her team, during her final calendar year in the appointment. In her outgoing message, Ms Pearman said: “I am privileged to have been entrusted with this challenging and immensely important work. It has been an honour to serve this community which I care deeply about and advocate, protect and contribute to fairness in public administration. As I pass on the torch (which was handed to me by Arlene Brock, Bermuda’s first Ombudsman), I know of the serious work ahead. She added: “My sincere thanks go to members of the public for the trust and confidence they placed in the Office. Thank you to those who brought their matters for resolution. The Office is here to help.”
Mr DeSilva said: “It is my privilege to submit this report on behalf of Ms Pearman, as one of my very first duties as the newly appointed Ombudsman. I am grateful to Ms Pearman for the detailed handover she provided that helped me off to a strong start. We have remained in contact since my appointment, and I will look forward to her continued support, guidance and friendship. She made a significant contribution to the recognition and respect that the office receives, and she has left an indelible mark on the mission, culture and values of the Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda.
“My colleagues and I encourage everyone to read our Annual Report and share your feedback with us. We hope that it will provide you with a good understanding of the work we do, and the positive impact we try to make. Our ability to effect change and address issues ofmaladministration in the public service relies on trust and support from the community. We know that good communication is an essential ingredient in building that trust and gaining that support. We invite you to contact us directly if you have a complaint, or justa few questions to ask. Additionally, we are available to make presentations to community groups, public authorities and any interested parties. Please visit our website at www.ombudsman.bm or contact us at 296-6541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”