When a complaint reach the Parliamentary Ombudsmen it is registered in a case handling system and assigned a case number. The number is used, among other things, in the communication between the Parliamentary Ombudsmen and the complainant.
The case is then handed over to the division of the Parliamentary Ombudsmen that is responsible for the supervision of the public authority which the complaint concerns, and a legal advisor is appointed to the case.
All cases are handled by an experienced legal advisor. About half of the submitted complaints are dismissed after an initial assessment. The complainant is notified of this decision in writing. That a complaint is dismissed, and not investigated further, does not mean that the complaint is considered to be unjustified. There may be a number of reasons why a complaint is not investigated.
Complaints not dismissed are investigated. An investigation often starts with a legal advisor collecting documents from an authority, or a phone call by the legal advisor to the civil servant who handled the case at the investigated authority.
Public authorities are responsible for supplying all information and materials that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen requests, no secrecy provisions apply when it comes to cases investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
If the collected information shows that the case does not need to be investigated further, a decision is issued. Roughly one third of all complaints are dismissed after such a minor investigation.
If the complaint needs further investigation, it is referred to the public authority. This means that the Parliamentary Ombudsmen sends a copy of the complaint, including enclosures, to the head of the authority requesting a written statement and an assessment regarding the case management, by the authority. If the case concerns the person who filed the complaint, the authority’s written statement is sent to the complainant so he or she has the opportunity to comment upon it.
When the investigation is concluded, the legal advisor makes a draft that forms the basis for a decision. The ombudsman takes a decision in the case and copies of the decision are sent to the complainant and to the public authority concerned.
A more comprehensive investigation normally takes between six and twelve months depending on the complexity of the case.