A system to prevent, detect and correct prospective errors in the case processing and nonconformities in the decisions made.
‘The right decision at the right time’ is the goal that forms the basis for the Immigration Appeals Board’s (UNE) quality assurance system for case processing. To ensure this goal, we must conduct quality reviews and measurements that are deemed to be necessary to ensure the quality of our processing of individual cases, from the time the cases are registered with UNE until they are given to the person affected by the outcome of the case. UNE must have systems in place that prevent, reveal and correct any errors in the case processing and nonconformities in the decisions made.
A quality assurance system is dynamic
The following pages provide information about UNE’s quality assurance system, including which measures and processes we have in place to ensure quality in all parts of the case processing at all times. A quality assurance system for case processing is dynamic. This means that the measures necessary to ensure high quality may vary over time.
‘High quality case processing’ means that the cases in UNE must be considered in a way, and lead to a decision, that is in accordance with the expectations for how case processing should be conducted. This means that UNE’s decision-makers shall obtain argumentation from relevant sources of law and apply these in accordance with the principles of sources of law. Case processing shall also be professional, relevant, trustworthy and based on principles of due process protection.
The principles of the quality assurance system
The quality assurance system is based on the following principles:
- our employees have trust and freedom of manoeuvre when carrying out their duties
- everyone is jointly responsible for UNE’s goal, both as regards quality and case flow
- requirements for efficient case flow and quality are two sides of the same coin
- it must be easy to do the right thing
- preventing errors is safer and more efficient than fixing them afterwards
- quality assurance is a continuous process that concerns identifying errors and nonconformities, but also looking for areas for improvement and providing an arena for sharing positive experience
Based on these principles, UNE has defined five main goals for its quality assurance work:
- correct and efficient case processing that leads to the correct decision (result)
- efficient use of resources / avoiding unnecessarily long case processing times (procedure)
- adapted use of resources based on the requirements of individual cases (cost/benefit assessments)
- safeguarding the focus areas set out in the service strategy for the immigration administration (user-orientation)
- continuous focus on quality when planning, executing, controlling and following up (continuous improvement)
Quality assurance can be described as procedures and measures intended to maintain a sufficiently high quality of case processing. The most important factor is that the cases maintain a sufficiently high quality before they are decided and registered in DUF and become available to persons outside UNE. It is also important to have clear procedures that help UNE as a learning organisation to continuously improve.
Quality assurance as a process of continuous improvement is illustrated by the circle below. We often talk of phases in processes of this kind. The transition between the phases is fluid, but all of the phases are necessary to ensure
This phase concerns enabling our employees to know where they can find information, who they can learn from and what they shall, and shall not, do. What expertise and tools are necessary before commencing consideration of a case? Examples of tools used in UNE’s case processing are:
- professional and practical management via internal guidelines, procedure descriptions and professional guides
- user guidelines
- training and access to user-friendly and up-to-date professional tools
- competence networks (such as information networks on children and the ID network)
Good procedures must be in place to ensure the quality of the decision-making process itself. The procedures are related in particular to the division of responsibility between the different persons involved in the case flow. What kind of quality assurance needs to be in place to be certain that the work maintains a sufficient quality?
To succeed in this phase, it is important that those considering individual cases are subject to clear quality expectations and that individual employees are aware of their own responsibility and duties before the case is handed over to the next person in the case flow.
Examples of such measures and procedures are:
- standard texts
- case-flow responsibility in each section
- procedure descriptions that provide the framework for each employee’s responsibility for quality in the case flow
In this phase, it is important to have methods in place that can uncover any nonconformities with the quality expectations, but also any areas for improvement and how UNE can pass on positive experience.
How can we identify whether UNE’s administrative practice is in line with our quality expectations?
Examples of such identification measures in case processing are:
- various cooperation forums that stimulate learning across the established divisions
- practice overviews
- practice memos
- random checks
This phase concerns how UNE identifies and learns from both positive experience and nonconformities with the quality requirements. Follow-up/improvement must be continuous. Continuous improvement is more efficient than putting out fires.
The quality assurance system includes several measures that allow UNE to follow up the quality of case processing:
- the quality register with a calendar that ensures that existing measures and procedures are regularly followed-up
- the feedback button on UNE’s website
- risk assessments and analyses
- procedure for continuous improvement in the legal sections (form)
- annual assessment of the quality assurance system at the managerial level
Identified factors that are not deemed to be useful or do not contribute to attaining the goals set for good case processing do not add value. It is therefore important that certain principles are emphasised when we assess whether and how we are to follow up identified factors.
Such fundamental principles are:
- measures that are implemented for the purpose of improving the quality of case processing must have an added value
- the resources spent on the measure must not exceed the utility value
When UNE assesses whether measures must be implemented to remedy a nonconformity, we should also consider the following questions:
- how serious is the nonconformity?
- what are the available alternatives?
- what is the anticipated effect of the various alternatives?
- what is the anticipated cost and benefit of the various alternatives?
UNE’s decision-makers must assess these questions specifically, but the following situations will generally require some form of follow-up:
- a risk of UNE violating the absolute protection against refoulement
- if UNE fails to consider the child’s best interests
- a risk of a decision leading to serious violation of the right to private and family life
- suspicion of that a disqualified person is preparing and making decisions
- incorrect information in a decision that may entail a violation of the duty of confidentiality
- errors or inadequate information resulting in a cooperating agency losing confidence in UNE’s case processing and/or that make the agency’s work difficult
- the appellant is granted less rights than he or she is entitled to