​Principles of Good Administration


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.