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Governance statement

This is the governance statement taken from our annual report 2017-2018.

Introduction 

This Governance Statement sets out the governance, risk management and internal control arrangements for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. It applies to the financial year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 and accords with the Government Financial Reporting Manual. 

Statutory position 

The Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 and the Health Service Commissioners Act 1993, respectively, define two statutory roles of Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (the Parliamentary Ombudsman) and Health Service Commissioner for England (the Health Service Ombudsman). These two roles are vested in one individual in my post as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). 

Governance structure 

As Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, in statute and by warrant of Her Majesty, I am responsible for the sound governance and effective internal control of the Ombudsman service. In law the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is a corporation sole and has a personal jurisdiction. This is not consistent with modern requirements of good governance. Therefore I am the Chair of a unitary Board which is in place to improve our governance. My executive responsibilities, as a corporation sole, are thus exercised personally as an individual, but also aided by means of defined and corporate arrangements that allow for proper scrutiny. As Chair of the Board I promote collective decision-making. I reserve the right, given my statutory role, to depart from the Board’s decisions, but only in exceptional circumstances and with a commitment to put my reasons in writing. I did not exercise this right in 2017-18.

I have a statutory responsibility for individual cases, but have given authority for case activity to officers in a written delegation scheme. I act personally in complex cases and where we identify serious or repeated mistakes that may have systemwide relevance. To ensure that this extensive casework is managed within a defined system of appropriate oversight, I have a detailed scheme of delegated authority and have appointed two Deputy Ombudsman: the Chief Executive and the Executive Director of Operations and Investigations (until December 2017) and thereafter to the Director of Legal and Governance. The Board scrutinises overall performance of casework, but not individual cases. 

As Accounting Officer, I am accountable to Parliament for the stewardship of our resources. I have delegated to the Chief Executive executive responsibility for effective financial control arrangements. This is a contractual responsibility and allows me to have a separate accountable person charged with stewardship and probity for our use of public money.

I discharge my responsibility through assurance from the Accountable Officer (Chief Executive) and the Executive Team, and through assurance and challenge by the Board, the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, Quality Committee and the Remuneration and Nominations Committee.

Rob Behrens, CBE
Accounting Officer, Ombudsman and Chair

Our Board and Committee structures

View a graphic which shows our current structure