The Catalan Ombudsman is reviewed by other ombudsmen and makes public the results


The review process consisted of the evaluation by other ombudsmen of the efficiency and effectiveness of the institution, the effectiveness of the basic processes and the quality of the services

The methodology used has been based on the guidelines established by the International Ombudsman Institute

The process has ended with the publication of a report that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the institution

Positive and relevant elements initiated during the current term have been highlighted, such as the ability to address new and mainly social issues or those related to the most vulnerable people

The Catalan Ombudsman has undergone a review of its working methods through a methodology called peer review. This process has consisted of the evaluation by other ombudsmen of the efficiency and effectiveness of the institution, the effectiveness of the basic processes, the quality of the services offered, and good practices in case management. according to accepted criteria of what makes a good ombudsman service. The evaluation process has ended with the issuance of a report diagnosing the state of the institution and also includes some recommendations.

The approach adopted for this peer review is in line with the draft IOI Guidelines on conducting peer reviews. The Ombudsman of Catalonia contacted the IOI requesting a peer review so a review panel was chosen. The panel was formed by Rob Behrens CBE, the UK Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Catherine De Bruecker, Belgium Federal Ombudsman, and two other members of their institutions. The panel members were specifically chosen in light of their long experience serving in European Ombudsman institutions, their experience of peer reviews and in IOI Board.

In line with the IOI peer review approach, the review was undertaken both remotely, through analysis of key documentation relating to the service, and in person, via a visit to the Ombudsman’s offices in Barcelona on 20th January 2020.

During the visit, the panel received a number of presentations from senior staff about the Catalan Ombudsman. Additionally, bilateral meetings took place between the panel and staff with functional responsibilities.  This included a meeting between the panel and Ombudsman staff at all levels held in private with the organisation’s leadership absent. The panel also received a briefing from an academic specialist in constitutional law. The panel was given opportunities to view casework and monographic reports.

The review has tackled four areas: mandate and operation, citizen accessibility and redress, effectiveness and efficiency, and leadership, professionalism and human resource management. Within the framework of this four areas the panel has made a number of suggestions for incremental change and improvement.

In terms of mandate: it should be strengthened the relationship with the Spanish National Ombudsman, through either a working protocol or amended legislation. The panel recognises that this matter is not simple and has been the subject of extensive litigation. The process also culminated in highlighting positive and relevant elements initiated during the current term, such as the ability to address new issues and of a mainly social nature or related to the most vulnerable people, the strong international leadership carried out by the Catalan Ombudsman or the efficiency with which the projects have been undertaken, with figures comparable to those of other European offices.

In terms of citizen accessibility and redress, the use of alternative mechanisms to formal complaint resolutions should be investigated. Alternative dispute resolution techniques, such as mediation. It would also be worthwhile to establish a follow-up process of monographic reports in order to assess its direct impact on improving public services and defending human rights.

In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, the Catalan Ombudsman should review investment in the number of general staff available to support advisers undertaking technical analysis. Improvements in this space could have a positive impact on the quality of investigations and processing speeds The panel felt that in addition to existing meetings with bodies under investigation, it would be worthwhile for the Catalan Ombudsman to develop new models of cooperation with administration such as visits to complaint teams in departments and services or bilateral meetings with case workers. This would allow the leadership of the Ombudsman to see how complaints are being handled in the organisations being investigated, and to ascertain how improvements could be made to service response times for information.

In terms of leadership, it suggests using an annual confidential staff survey to gauge staff feedback on significant issues. Finally, in terms of work/life balance, the Office should examine whether more could be done in terms of homeworking and flexible working.

The fact is that the current ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, is at the end of his second term and, therefore, this independent evaluation of the operating model of the institution can be a good tool that will surely help to assess operation and accountability.

Interview Radio Ombudsman (PSHO)

The Catalan Ombudsman, Rafael Ribó, was invited to the interview space led by the United Kingdom's Ombudsman, Rob Behrens. The interview reviewed the personal and professional career of the Catalan Ombudsman, with special reference to his training and influences, and how these were useful to him in the task of defending human rights.

Special mention is also made of the peer review, launched to help improve the operation of the institution, to be more open to people and their grievances, to make resources more efficient, and to address in a deeper and more efficient way problems of society, such as those generated by the health system or the care of people. The Catalan Ombudsman stated that "a colleague can teach you a lot to improve".

During the interview, he tackled issues related to the international work carried out by the Catalan Ombudsman within the International Ombudsman Institute, or relations with the Council of Europe, and emphasized the importance of the Principles of Venice, which have been drawn up with the aim of being an international benchmark in terms of the guidelines that states must follow to protect ombudsman institutions.

Link to the interview: