This is my e-mailed request for information:

Hello, I would like to make a complaint against a government department - please tell me how I should proceed.
 
Gordon Bray.

And this is reply from Jennifer Needham:

Dear Mr Bray

This e-mail acknowledges receipt of your e-mail to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. Your reference number, which you should quote if you need to contact us, is 75529.

Please read the important information below

Using your information
The Ombudsman's investigations are by law conducted in private and we will at all times comply with the Data Protection Act. However, in order to assess your complaint, we may need to obtain or share information about your case with other parties, such as our specialist advisers and the body which you have complained about. We may also use information about your case for training purposes or to help us investigate other similar complaints. If there is any reason why we should not use the information we hold in your case, or if you have any questions about how we will handle it, please let us know.

Happy with our service?
We aim to give the best possible service to our customers. If you are dissatisfied with the standard of service you receive from us, or if you have concerns about the decision we reach in your case, you may pursue your concerns through our complaints procedure. If you would like further information about the procedure please contact us on 0300 061 4076, or by email at complaintsaboutphso@ombudsman.org.uk . Alternatively, details about our complaints procedure are available from our website at www.ombudsman.org.uk.

Monitoring our service
Finally, we may contact you in the future in connection with surveys or research to help us improve our services. If you would prefer not to take part, please call us on 0345 015 4033.


Yours sincerely
 
Jennifer Needham
Customer Service Officer
 
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Millbank Tower
Millbank
London
SW1P 4QP
 
Telephone: 0345 015 4033
Fax: 0300 061 4601
Email: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk

Here is my response:

Dear Ms. Needham, your reply did not answer my request for information.  ie.
 
"Hello, I would like to make a complaint against a government department - please tell me how I should proceed."
 
Do you have a problem understanding this?
 
Gordon Bray.

Awaiting a reply....

This is it:

Dear Mr Bray

 

Our reference EN-75529

 

Thank you for your emails of 4 January 2010 regarding your complaint about a government department. The email that I sent you on 4 January 2010 was a standard acknowledgement email, I am sorry if you expected that we would be able to send a substantive response on the same day.

 

We can consider complaints about  UK government departments within our jurisdiction where there is evidence that they have not acted properly or fairly, or have provided a poor service.

 

I should explain that the Ombudsman will not normally investigate a complaint until the departmentís internal complaints procedure has been exhausted. Each government department has a different complaints procedure, these are usually published on the Internet. If you would like me to outline the complaints procedure for the government department you wish to complain about, please contact me using the details on this email.

 

If you remain dissatisfied after receiving a final response from the department you may then come to the Ombudsman. However, only an MP can make a complaint to us (on your behalf) about government departments, agencies or organisations. We cannot investigate a complaint until an MP has asked us to do so. That means that, at that stage, you would need to ask an MP to send your complaint to us. You can find the contact details for your local MP by entering your postcode into the following website:

 

http://www.parliament.uk/mpslordsandoffices/index.cfm

 

To help your MP understand your complaint, you should provide the following information:

 

  • An explanation of what the problem is;
  • A brief history of what happened, and when, including responses to your complaint so far;
  • Copies of the letters and papers which are relevant to the complaint; and
  • Details of what you want done to put things right.

Having looked at your complaint your MP will let you know the best way to deal with it. If your MP does ask us to investigate your case, we will look carefully at all the information you have provided and send you, and your MP, a reply telling you what we are going to do about it. 

 

If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the address or telephone number on this email.

 

Yours sincerely

  

Jennifer Needham

Customer Services Officer

 

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Millbank Tower

Millbank

London

 

Telephone: 0345 415 4033

 

Email: phso.enquiries@ombudsman.org.uk

 

Phew!