Making a complaint about top management in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS)

Top management in the NICS and its agencies mean the Head of the Civil Service, Permanent Secretaries and anyone in a Grade 3/Deputy Secretary position (or equivalent). 

Reasons for your complaint

If you feel that, a member of top management has behaved in any of the following ways you can make a complaint:

  • unprofessional judgement, unfairness, bias or prejudice
  • giving advice that is misleading or inadequate
  • refusing to answer reasonable questions
  • discourtesy and failure to apologise properly for errors

How to make a complaint

You must set out your complaint by email or in writing to the relevant Departmental Complaints officer within three months of the incident that prompted the complaint.

You will need to provide:

  • your full name and address
  • full details of the complaint

The Departmental Complaints officers are listed below.

Department Complaints officer Contact details
Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs Geraldine Fee Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SB
Tel  028 9052 4287
Department for Communities Andrea Orr Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast
Tel 028 9082 3198
Department for the Economy Paula McCreary Netherleigh, Massey Avenue, Belfast BT4 2JP
Tel 028 9052 9402
Department of Education Barbara Swales Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor BT19 7PR
Tel  028 9127 9460
Department of Finance Martin Monaghan Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor BT19 7PR 
Tel 028 9185 8228
Department of Health Robert Craig Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SL 
Tel  028 9052 3384
Department for Infrastructure David Crabbe Clarence Court, 10 -18 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8GB 
Tel 028 9054 0780
Department of Justice Gillian Colhoun Standards Unit, Block 5, Knockview Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SJ
Tel 028 9037 8631
Public Prosecution Service Liam Strain Belfast Chambers, 93 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JR
The Executive Office Deirdre Griffith Stormont Castle, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3ST 
Tel 028 9037 8056

Your complaint will be acknowledged within three working days. It is not always possible to give a timescale for when you will receive a response, but you will be kept up-to-date.

All the information you provide will be handled sensitively, telling only those who need to know and following relevant data protection requirements.

Investigating your complaint

The Head of the Civil Service will deal with any complaints at Permanent Secretary, and Grade 3/Deputy Secretary or equivalent levels. The Head of the Civil Service may appoint a Permanent Secretary or a Grade 3 not involved in the complaint to investigate and prepare a report for a board of inquiry to consider.

A board of inquiry is made up of three senior civil servants, with no connection to the complaint, who have the experience and skills to deal with complaints about top management.

The board will look at the facts of the complaint and consider all relevant information including details of any investigation that has been carried out. The board will then bring a final report on their findings to the Head of the Civil Service, who will make the final decision on the outcome of the complaint.

You will be told about the outcome of your complaint as soon as possible.

Complaints about the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service will be brought to the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government.

All external complaints will be considered as raised in good faith even if judged unfounded after investigation. However, if there is evidence that you are making vexatious or malicious use of the procedure your complaint will not be progressed.

If you're not satisfied by the response

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint you can ask the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) to look at your case by clicking on the link below.

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