DES MOINES, Iowa - Complaints and information requests about government misbehavior have now risen for eight straight years in Iowa.
The State Office of Ombudsman the 6,484 contacts in fiscal year 2022 was a record high and an increase of almost 60 percent since fiscal year 2014. That includes a tripling of complaints from prison and jail inmates.
Because of the numbers, newly appointed State Ombudsman Bernardo Granwehr says his office “must be selective” about which cases it chooses to investigate “to have the biggest impact for the greatest number of Iowans.”
The Iowa Office of Ombudsman accepts complaints from citizens who believe a state or local government agency has acted unfairly, unreasonably, inefficiently, or contrary to law, rule, or policy. It has the authority to investigate complaints, but more often tries to resolve disagreements or misunderstandings informally and cooperatively.
The Ombudsman’s 28-page annual report features a sampling of cases its staff investigated during the year, as well as discussions of several 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.
• 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 www.legis.iowa.gov/Ombudsman.