A systemic issue is a problem a customer has with an EWOQ scheme participant caused by failures of systems or processes. They differ from issues that are the result of simple, unavoidable, or unpredictable 'human error'.
We often identify these issues when more than one customer experiences the same issue. This could be with the one provider or across different providers. Sometimes, a single issue from one customer can highlight a systemic issue.
Under the Energy and Water Ombudsman Act 2006, we have a responsibility to identify and report to the Australian Energy Regulator and other regulators on systemic issues that arise from complaints to us.
Causes of systemic issues
Many factors can cause a systemic issue, including:
- inadequate planning
- failure to mitigate human error
- lack of policies or procedures
- poor training
- failed systems.
Identifying systemic issues
We identify potential systemic issues in several ways:
- Monitoring our complaints and identifying potential systemic issues in our case management system.
- Staying informed about current and emerging systemic issues through advice from our Advisory Council and relationships with scheme participants, government and other ombudsmen agencies.
- Scheme participants may tell us about a systemic issue.
Responding to systemic issues
When we identify a systemic issue, we contact the scheme participant(s) affected and ask for more information to find out if the issue is actually systemic in nature. We do this to ensure that we only report appropriate issues to our regulators.
The process of identifying and discussing systemic issues with our scheme participants can help them to avoid regulatory issues in the future.
We work with our scheme participants and regulators to address systemic issues. Through joint action and awareness, we can all work to improve business practices and processes and build consumer trust.
Please contact us if you know of a systemic issue in your energy or water company.