Good administration by public bodies means:
1. Getting it right
- Acting in accordance with the law and with regard for the rights of those concerned.
- Acting in accordance with the public body’s policy and guidance (published or internal).
- Taking proper account of established good practice.
- Providing effective services, using appropriately trained and competent staff.
- Taking reasonable decisions, based on all relevant considerations.
2. Being customer focused
- Ensuring people can access services easily.
- Informing customers what they can expect and what the public body expects of them.
- Keeping to its commitments, including any published service standards
- Dealing with people helpfully, promptly and sensitively, bearing in mind their individual circumstances
- Responding to customers’ needs flexibly, including, where appropriate, co-ordinating a response with other service providers
3. Being open and accountable
- Being open and clear about policies and procedures and ensuring that information, and any advice provided, is clear, accurate and complete.
- Stating its criteria for decision making and giving reasons for decisions
- Handling information properly and appropriately.
- Keeping proper and appropriate records
- Taking responsibility for its actions
4. Acting fairly and proportionately
- Treating people impartially, with respect and courtesy.
- Treating people without unlawful discrimination or prejudice, and ensuring no conflict of interests.
- Dealing with people and issues objectively and consistently.
- Ensuring that decisions and actions are proportionate, appropriate and fair.
5. Putting things right
- Acknowledging mistakes and apologising where appropriate.
- Putting mistakes right quickly and effectively.
- Providing clear and timely information on how and when to appeal or complain.
- Operating an effective complaints procedure, which includes offering a fair and appropriate remedy when a complaint is upheld.
6. Seeking continuous improvement
- Reviewing policies and procedures regularly to ensure they are effective.
- Asking for feedback and using it to improve services and performance.
- Ensuring that the public body learns lessons from complaints and uses these to improve services and performance.
These Principles are not a checklist to be applied mechanically. Public bodies should use their judgment in applying the Principles to produce reasonable, fair and proportionate results in the circumstances. The Ombudsman will adopt a similar approach in deciding whether maladministration or service failure has occurred.
The supporting text for each Principle follows.