Monday 05 December 2022

‘Government is too complicated, bureaucratic and without empathy’

The government machine is too complicated, too bureaucratic and misses empathy with the man in the street, the national ombudsman said at the presentation of his 2012 report on Wednesday.

The report, entitled ‘my incomprehensible government’, focuses on the thousands of complaints about the government received by Alex Brennikmeijer’s office last year.

Despite the fact the crisis is driving more people into contact with government officials, the complexity of the state apparatus is increasing, the ombudsman told parliament. ‘There is not enough sympathy for citizens who ask for help,’ the ombudsman said.

Mistakes

In particular, the low-skilled have trouble finding their way around the system and ‘they do not understand what has gone wrong or what they have done wrong,’ he said.

One example of the complexity of the government machine highlighted in the report is the number of different sources of income for single parents. A single-parent family will have to deal with eight different organisations, fill in 18 forms and get 80 different payments a year, the report states.

The ombudsman had 15,000 written complaints last year – up 1,000 on 2011. The organisation was also telephoned 30,000 times with complaints about the government machine.

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