Ombudsman urges ministry to say ‘sorry’

| 01/05/2018 | 16 Comments

Cayman Islands Office of the Ombudsman, Cayman News Service(CNS): The Office of the Ombudsman has urged the finance ministry to offer an apology to an applicant who made a freedom of information request over stamp duty abatement records after the office found that the request had been badly handled. In the end the applicant was able to secure the records she was seeking but the information manager was said to have made a number of errors in procedure. In her ruling following an appeal by the applicant about how she was treated, Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston said the desire by the civil service was to be seen as world-class.

“Sometimes great customer service means saying you are sorry,” Hermiston said in a press release accompanying the appeal decision. “Ombudsmen around the world regularly recommend apologies as a way of making things right. An honest and sincere apology has the potential to initiate the restoration of trust and to repair a mistake. While apologies cannot undo the past, they can mitigate the negative effects of a mistake.”

The ombudsman found that the application was badly handled because the information manager had misinterpreted the original request, searched for only part of it and failed to interview the applicant. This misinterpretation resulted in the applicant having to submit a second request.

“In my opinion the ministry made a mistake when it responded to the applicant’s first request,” Hermiston stated. “Rather than spending time defending its actions, I believe the ministry would have been better served by offering an apology. I am confident that such an action would have ended this matter and this decision would not have been necessary.”

The ombudsman said she would not force an apology as they should be given voluntarily but she urged the ministry to do so.

“Apologies seem to be the hardest words to say for some governments and civil servants,” she said. “I hope this is not the case in the Cayman Islands because this seemingly small action can make a meaningful difference in the government’s relationship with the people of the Cayman Islands. A well-placed apology is an important tool in any customer service focused organisation’s tool kit.”

Although the applicant went on to get the information she was seeking, it took almost four months to get the necessary documents and a great deal of back and forth. However, the ombudsman found that the ministry missed several chances to resolve this case in a positive and customer-friendly manner.

See full decision in the CNS Library

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Category: Local News

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Most of you are missing the point. The applicant got the record she wanted and if you read the full report. It seems she had the document she was asking for.

    But I agree. When you mess up. Say so and apologize. The best leaders can do that.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    If the Civil Service (especially Management) spent a fraction of their efforts on admitting when wrong and righting it…rather than enormous energies on deflection and blaming others / running people around in circles…the CIG could one day then claim to be “world class”. Unfortunately we’re still quite some distance from that goal!




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  3. Justin Bieberbanks says:

    It’s too late now.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Is it too late now to say sorry?




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  5. Anonymous says:

    She clearly wasted her time with a department who just did not follow proper procedures, hopefully the least you will do is refund her for the money she also wasted processing the requests.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    good luck with that…..when was the last time you heard of a caymanian admitting a mistake or saying sorry……




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  7. Anonymous says:

    civil service does not do apologies…..or accountability…or responsibility




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the Ombudsman doesn’t have the power to force an apology and that speaks volumes for the weaknesses of the whole complaints process.




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    • Anonymous says:

      you actually want the law to say that the Ombudsman must be able to
      force Govt to give an apology?! That’s really weird.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    How did this even make the news?




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  10. Uncivil Servant says:

    Well, they are a sorry bunch.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if it was misinterpretation that caused this incident. In my experience with civil service they are less than helpful and would rather not be bothered during their job hours so they can text on their phone. And how is this sorry supposed to make this better? What they needed to do was reprimand the manager in the beginning.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    BFD




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