A week in the life of the Ombudsman
People often ask me what my job is like. Sometimes they want a broad picture of my roles and responsibilities. Other times, they want to know what I do day-to-day. While it is very easy to say what my broad role is, it is often more difficult to explain what I do on a daily basis because no two days are ever the same.
However, because people have asked, I thought it would be a good idea to use one of my blogs to share a page from my schedule as a way to illustrate the types of things I do as Ombudsman.
Inside the Ombudsman’s schedule
|Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 Jan
|My office is open Monday – Friday, but as the Ombudsman, my role isn’t always confined to weekdays. On the weekend of the 11th and 12th January, I attended the Jewish Moral Leadership Weekend at Amport House. This is an annual event for the Armed Forces Jewish Community that has been held at Amport House for approximately 40 years, and it was the first time my organisation attended. Given that 2020 marks the last time the event will ever be held at Amport House, before moving to Beckett House in 2021, it was an especially poignant weekend.
As Service Complaints Ombudsman, engaging with different diversity networks is an essential part of my role. I do this because it not only allows me to raise awareness of my office but I get a deeper appreciation for and understanding of the issues facing Service personnel. Attending events like these is a great way of achieving those important aims.
|Monday 13 Jan
|My Monday mornings usually always start with a diary meeting, and this week was no exception. It is an important weekly meeting where I go through my upcoming schedule and am briefed on any pertinent communications or media issues.
Following this, I had my monthly meeting with my Chief of Operations, where we discussed staff-related issues and general issues relating to investigations. As many of you already know, we have a backlog of substance (merits) and maladministration investigations. However, this has been significantly reduced over the last 12 months due to the hard work of my Operations Team.
The rest of the day was spent dealing with casework – arguably the most important part of my role. My involvement in casework is to provide high-level advice on emerging issues, review investigations conducted by my team, and sign off on draft reports and decisions. While certain decisions can be signed off by my Chief of Operations under delegated authority, there are others that I need to sign off personally.
|Tuesday 14 Jan
||I can’t remember the last time I had two back to back days solely dedicated to casework, but I achieved that this week!
There are still calls and emails that come in that need to be dealt with, but having no scheduled meetings allows me to focus on casework, particularly signing off decisions. Once I have signed off a decision, my investigators can finalise the cases and start new investigations.
|Wednesday 15 Jan
|Thursday 16 Jan
||It is rare to have a week with only one external meeting, but I am grateful for those weeks when they arrive.
While I spent the majority of my day on casework, I met with Commander Home Command in the morning. We meet regularly, as I do with a range of senior military personnel and other stakeholders, to discuss matters concerning Service Complaints policy.
I also spent some time sending out thank you letters to those who hosted me for the Jewish Moral Leadership Weekend. While attending external events held by the different diversity networks is an important part of my job, it is also a privilege and an honour for which I always ensure to show my gratitude.
In the evening, I attended an event at Middle Temple Hall, commemorating 100 years of women being at the Bar.
|Friday 17 Jan
||The last day of the working week is by no means the slowest. It is often the day I focus on wider, more strategic issues concerning SCOAF. I will usually save lengthier or more detailed documents to read on a Friday (as long as they are not time-sensitive!)
In addition to the work I did on strategic issues, I also had discussions about an upcoming visit. I try to get out and visit each of the Services a few times each year. As with attending events held by the diversity networks, this allows me to better understand the issues (both positive and negative) impacting Service personnel and the work that they do.
The week of the 11th January was one of my ‘quieter’ weeks as I normally have more external meetings and engagements. However, as you can see, it is rare to have two working days, let alone two weeks, that are exactly the same – but this gives you a good idea of the types of things I do as Ombudsman.