DES MOINES, IOWA (December 7, 2022) — Complaints and information requests to the Iowa Office of Ombudsman rose for the eighth consecutive year in fiscal year 2022, eclipsing a record high number received just a year earlier.
In total, Iowa’s good-government office fielded 6,484 contacts in FY 2022 — an increase of almost sixty percent since FY2014. During that same period of time, complaints from inmates in Iowa’s state prisons and county jails have tripled.
Newly-appointed Ombudsman Bernardo Granwehr said that, in light of the trends, the office “must be selective” about which cases it chooses to investigate “to have the biggest impact for the greatest number of Iowans.” Granwehr committed to making improvements to the agency’s website, in an effort to more easily and efficiently offer resources to citizens.
The Ombudsman is a good-government office that accepts complaints from citizens who believe a state or local government agency has acted unfairly, unreasonably, inefficiently, or contrary to law, rule, or policy. The Ombudsman has the authority to investigate complaints, but more often tries to resolve disagreements or misunderstandings informally and cooperatively. The office’s eleven assistants are impartial and objective in their reviews of complaints.
The Ombudsman’s 28-page annual report features a sampling of cases its staff investigated during the year, as well as discussions of several important issues, including:
• A move by child-welfare officials to improve the quality of “safety plans” to protect at-risk kids without having to take their parents to court;
• Ensuring that the families of Medicaid recipients realize that the state is required to recover costs from the patients’ estates after they die; and
• The challenge of keeping dangerous synthetic drugs out of the state’s prisons without compromising inmates’ basic rights and privileges.
The new report and past reports can be found online at legis.iowa.gov/Ombudsman.