8.78 Under the Ombudsmen Act, Ombudsmen can investigate conduct by a department or organisation (central or local government) that relates to a matter of administration affecting any person in a personal capacity. They cannot investigate the decisions of Ministers, but can look into the departmental advice on which Ministers base decisions.
8.79 When investigating the actions of a department, an Ombudsman may consult a Minister concerned with the matter, or a Minister who requests a meeting. An Ombudsman may also require anyone to provide any information that, in the Ombudsman's opinion, relates to the matter under investigation. Any departmental official can be summoned to give information to an Ombudsman under oath. The Act makes it clear that compliance with such a request from an Ombudsman would not breach any obligation of security or non-disclosure.
8.80 An Ombudsman may recommend that remedial action be taken if a complaint is found to be justified. A copy of the recommendation will be sent to the Minister as well as to the department or organisation concerned. The recommendation is not binding, but the Ombudsman can report to the Prime Minister and subsequently to Parliament if dissatisfied with the action taken.
8.81 Section 20 of the Ombudsmen Act precludes the Ombudsmen from requiring information to be given to them where the Attorney-General certifies that to do so might have certain specified effects: for example, the disclosure of the deliberations or proceedings of Cabinet or Cabinet committees.