The regional ombudsman initiative is among the “package” of four governance initiatives which have a direct bearing on the success of the Pacific Plan. The others are a regional economic and technical assistance facility, a regional capacity to assist officials in Forum Island countries in collecting revenue and the regional audit support. It was envisaged that if these initiatives were implemented as a first-step confidence building measure, their success could provide the necessary momentum for the longer term vision of the Pacific Plan.
The output on this initiative is the Pacific Ombudsman Alliance (POA) which was established on 29 September 2008. Its intent is to provide a service delivery and mutual support organisation for Ombudsman and allied institutions that are members of the Pacific Islands Forum. The Alliance does not have any legal powers in relation to Ombudsman activities in the region. At its inaugural meeting, a charter which provides the governance framework for the operation of the Alliance comprising membership, Board and Secretariat was endorsed. Its principles are integrity, accountability, simplicity, flexibility, respect and sustainability.
The Alliance has seven objects:
Strengthen cooperation within the community of Pacific Ombudsman and allied institutions;
Foster integrity in the delivery of government services, by supporting the creation and maintenance of strong ombudsman and allied institutions;
Develop culturally appropriate resources and training support to address common issues faced by the Pacific Ombudsman community;
Provide mutual support to help members meet their obligations and responsibilities and improve their service delivery and effectiveness;
Support the development of legislation and programs that recognise the right of citizens to transparent and accountable government services through effective complaints and oversight mechanisms;
Enable the national ombudsman institutions of the Pacific Islands Forum nations to provide a common or consistent approach in dealings with international ombudsman bodies;
Foster and promote the work of ombudsman and allied institutions throughout the Pacific.
PIFS is charged with implementing the Non-Ombudsman Small Island States Working Group (NOSISWG) and will explore sub-regional initiatives for ombudsman functions, exploring the political commitments to sub-regional initiatives, examining the feasibility of sub-regional initiatives, including political and economic viability.