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California Citizen Complaint Act

California law requires agencies to have a procedure to investigate citizens’ complaints

By Chris Micheli, August 15, 2022 6:29 am

California has numerous formal acts in statute. Government Code Title 2, Division 1, Chapter 5.1 provides the Citizen Complaint Act of 1997, which is contained in Section 8330 to 8332. Chapter 5.1 was added in 1997 by Chapter 416. Section 8330 names the act, and specifies that all state agencies that have Internet websites must implement this act in a manner that is consistent with the statewide strategy for electronic commerce as established by the Department of Information Technology.

Section 8331 requires state agencies to make available on the Internet, unless otherwise authorized by the Department of Information Technology pursuant to Executive Order D-3-99, a plain-language form through which individuals can register complaints or comments relating to the performance of that agency. The agency is required to provide instructions on filing the complaint electronically, or on the manner in which to complete and mail the complaint form to the state agency, or both, consistent with whichever method the agency establishes for the filing of complaints.

Any printed complaint form used by a state agency as part of the process of receiving a complaint against any licensed individual or corporation subject to regulation by that agency must be made available by the agency on the Internet on or after July 1, 2001, unless otherwise authorized by the Department of Information Technology pursuant to Executive Order D-3-99. 

State agencies making a complaint form available on the Internet are required to advise individuals calling the agency to lodge a complaint, and include on the Internet the location at which this information may be accessed. Public libraries may provide Internet acess and advertise that they provide the access.

Section 8332 provides that it is the intent of the Legislature that this chapter does not apply to the Reporting of Improper Governmental Activities Act (Article 3 (commencing with Section 8547) of Chapter 6.5) or the procedures established to investigate civilians’ complaints against peace officers as required by Section 832.5 of the Penal Code.

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