News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda launched its strategic plan for 2023 – 2026 on April 1st to coincide with the start of the new financial year. The plan has four main objectives: enhance the impact of the Office; extend its accessibility to the public; expand its community outreach; and modernise the Office. The Mission of the Office is to protect the public interest by providing a free, fair, and independent resource to address complaints about public services. The goal is to drive greater accountability and help improve standards across the public sector.
The Ombudsman for Bermuda, Michael DeSilva, gave credit to former Ombudsmen Arlene Brock and Victoria Pearman. “I am grateful to my predecessors for making things easy for me by establishing the Office as an independent and highly competent entity with a strong reputation for fairness, dignity, and respect,” he said. “This plan represents a light touch on the high standards of performance the Office has maintained over the last sixteen years.”
Highlights of the strategic plan include a focus on removing any barriers that may prevent groups or individuals from having unrestricted access to the Office. This will include making adjustments for anyone with physical challenges or other impairments, and those who do not speak English. A new website has been launched with accessibility considerations such as larger fonts, text-to-speech options, and Portuguese translations of complaint forms and other information. Investigation processes are being refined to speed up enquiries and resolve complaints promptly.
Community outreach and public engagement feature prominently in the plan, with the goals of expanding the Office’s presence, sharing casework results, and inspiring public confidence. Mr DeSilva explained, “Our sampling of the general public so far has suggested that support for our Office is strong amongst those who are familiar with us, but we may not be widely recognised in the community – especially if you have not used our services. Our community outreach activities intend to close this gap by raising awareness of the work we do, and making sure that anyone who needs our services knows how to reach us.”
The plan includes a People Strategy that will provide training and development opportunities for staff, and foster a positive and healthy working environment. A modernisation programme will create a paperless environment and implement other measures that make the office moreeco-friendly. Procedures will be put in place to ensure the Office continues to meet its external compliance obligations, such as the Public Access to Information (PATI) Act and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The Office will also pursue accreditation from the Ombudsman Association in the UK.
Mr DeSilva said: “My colleagues and I encourage everyone to visit our website and read our Strategic Plan to understand the work we do and the positive impacts we try to make. We know that good communication is an essential part of building support from the community that we serve, and we invite you to contact us directly if you have a complaint, or just to ask a few questions. Additionally, we are available to present to community groups, public authorities and other interested parties. Please visit our website at www.ombudsman.bm or contact us at 296-6541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”
• The Office of the Ombudsman for Bermuda is an independent, non-government office that investigates complaints from members of the public about allegations of maladministration by public authorities, including government departments, boards and bodies established or funded by the Legislature. • It aims to resolve complaints and provide an impartial form of alternative dispute resolution which is less formal, flexible and more accessible than going through the Courts.
• The Ombudsman Act 2004 is the governing legislation. Section 24 of the Act requires that the Ombudsman shall prepare a report for the House of Assembly on the performance of his function under the Act for each calendar year. Section 5 (2) allows the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on his own motion, without a complainant,where he is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to carry out an investigation in the public interest.
• The Strategic Plan 2023-2026 can be downloaded from our website www.ombudsman.bm.
• Print copies are available free of charge at the Office of the Ombudsman: Suite 102, Dundonald Place, 14 Dundonald Street West, Hamilton HM 09.
• Visit us at www.ombudsman.bm or follow us on Facebook: Bermuda Ombudsman