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 The Director of Corporate Services

Room 117, Dundonald House,
Belfast, BT4 3SB

Department for Communities Andrea Orr

Level 5, NINE Lanyon Place
Belfast BT1 3LP
Tel 028 9081 9410

Department for the Economy Rozzi Langford

Adelaide House, 39-49 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8FD
Tel 028 9052 9521

Department of Education Gary Bennett 

Rathgael House, 43 Balloo Road, Bangor BT19 7PR
Tel  028 9127 9331

Department of Finance Jonny McNaught

Room 26, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SB 
Tel 028 9081 6715

Department of Health Fiona White

Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SL

Department for Infrastructure Donal Moran

Clarence Court, 10 -18 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8GB
Tel 028 9054 1112

Department of Justice Brendan Devlin

Governance Unit, Corporate Engagement & Communications Division, Justice Delivery Directorate, Department of Justice, Room B5.16, 5th Floor, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SG Tel 028 9052 2934

Public Prosecution Service Liam Strain

Belfast Chambers, 93 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JR

The Executive Office Andy McCaw

TEO 5th Floor, Castle Buildings,
Belfast, BT4 3SR
Tel 028 9037 8618

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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