ombudsman n : a government appointee who investigates complaints by private persons against the government
EtymologyFrom ombudsman < umboðsmaðr
- An appointed official whose duty is to investigate complaints, generally on behalf of individuals such as consumers or taxpayers, against institutions such as companies and government departments.
- A designated internal mediator in an organization whose duty is to assist members with conflict resolution and other problems and to serve as independent consultant to recommend changes to policies or procedures to improve organization effectiveness and efficiency.
official who investigates complaints
EtymologyThe origin of the word is found in and the word "umbuds man", meaning representative. The first preserved use in Swedish is from 1552. It is also used in the other Scandinavian languages such as the Icelandic umboðsmaður, the Norwegian ombudsmann and the Danish ombudsmand.
An ombudsman (English plural: ombudsmans or ombudsmen) is an official, usually (but not always) appointed by the government or by parliament, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. In some jurisdictions, the Ombudsman is referred to, at least officially, as the 'Parliamentary Commissioner' (e.g., the West Australian state Ombudsman). The word ombudsman and its specific meaning, Norse in origin, has since been adopted into English as well as other languages, and ombudsmen have been instituted by other governments and organizations such as the European Union.
An ombudsman need not be appointed by government; they may work for a corporation, a newspaper, an NGO, or even for the general public. In some countries, an Inspector General may be the same as or have overlapping duties with a government-appointed ombudsman.
Origins and etymology
The origin of the word is found in Old Swedish umbuðsmann (accusative) and the word umbuds man, meaning representative. The first preserved use is in Swedish. In the Danish Law of Jutland from 1241 the term is umbozman and means a royal civil servant in a hundred (country subdivision). From 1552, it is also used in the other Scandinavian languages such as the Icelandic "umboðsmaður", the Norwegian "ombudsmann" and the Danish "ombudsmand".
The modern use of the term began in Sweden, with the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman instituted in 1809, to safeguard the rights of citizens by establishing a supervisory agency independent of the executive branch.
A prototype of ombudsmen may have flourished in China during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC), and in Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The Romans may have also grappled with the problem.
However, it was the example of the second Muslim Caliph, Umar (634-644) and the concept of Qadi al-Qadat (developed in Islamic law), which influenced the Swedish King, Charles XII. In 1713, fresh from self-exile in Turkey, Charles XII created the Office of Supreme Ombudsman, which soon became the Chancellor of Justice. A parallel institution, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, was later established by the Riksdag, and it was this that the Scandinavian countries subsequently molded into its contemporary form.
Although the word is, historically, gender-neutral, some writers have replaced ombudsman in speech and writing with "ombuds officer", "ombudsperson", or just "ombuds", or, in cases where the person in question is a woman, "ombudswoman".
Ombudsman in politicsIn general, "ombudsman" refers to a state official appointed to provide a check on government activity in the interests of the citizen, and to oversee the investigation of complaints of improper government activity against the citizen. If the ombudsman finds a complaint to be substantiated, a report is published to that effect. Further redress depends on the laws of the country concerned, but normally involves financial compensation. Ombudsmen do not, however, tend to have the power to initiate legal proceedings or prosecution on the grounds of a complaint. This role is sometimes referred to as a 'tribunitian' role, and has been traditionally fuflilled by elected representatives (The term refers to the ancient Roman 'tribunes of the plebians' (tribuni plebis), whose role was to intercede in the political process on behalf of common citizens).
The major advantage of an ombudsman is that he or she examines complaints from the outside of the offending state institution, thus avoiding the conflicts of interest inherent in self-policing. However, the ombudsman system relies heavily on the selection of an appropriate individual for the office, and on the cooperation of at least someone from within the apparatus of the state. Perhaps for this reason, outside Scandinavia, the introduction of ombudsmen has tended to yield mixed results.
United States of AmericaIn the United States the U.S. Congressman has long performed the unofficial function of an Ombudsman, at the Federal level. This informal job has become increasingly time consuming. It is subject to criticism on the grounds that it interferes with a legislator's primary duty, namely to read and be knowledgeable about a bill before casting his or her vote.
Nonetheless, as Morris Fiorina points out, the involvement of Congress in the ombudsman process carries one major advantage: members of the Legislative Branch exercise "control over what bureaucrats value most – higher budgets and new program authorizations."
United KingdomIn the UK, the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration was created in 1967, covering the activities of central government departments. A separate (National) Health Service ombudsman was subsequently created, but this has to date always been the same person and the two offices are combined. The Local Government Ombudsman (formally the Commission for Local Government Administration - there are three Commissioners) for England and Wales was created in 1973, and for Scotland in 1974; since then, a variety of other public and private sector-specific ombudsmen have been created. Critics claim that the Ombudsmen appear independent while actually being recruited from the ranks of officials and that their function tends to entail little more than the rubber stamping of official decisions. Use of the ombudsman schemes is becoming increasingly common, although citizens will often pursue grievances against government through their local MP, or else through another MP or the courts.
CanadaIn Canada the office of the ombudsman is present in all departments of the federal government, in many provincial and municipal governments as well as in Crown Corporations such as CBC.
Organizational ombudsmanMany private companies, universities and government agencies also have an ombudsman (or an ombudsman department) which serve internal employees or other constituencies. These ombudsman roles are structured to function independently, by reporting to the board of directors, and do not serve any other role in the organization. Organizational ombudsmen are sometimes called "ombuds" or "ombuds officers" or "ombudsperson" or "ombud". They are beginning to appear around the world within organizations, sometimes as an alternative to anonymous hot lines, in countries where the latter are illegal or considered inappropriate.
Recently, since the 1960s, the profession has grown in the United States, particularly in corporations, universities and government agencies. This current model, sometimes referred to as an organizational ombudsman, works as a designated neutral party, one who is high ranking in an organization, but who is not considered management. Using an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) sensibility, an organizational ombudsman can provide options to whistleblowers or employees with ethics concerns, provide mediation for conflicts, track problem areas, and make recommendations for changes to policies or procedures in support of orderly systems change. One particularly important function is to pick up "new things" -- that is, issues new to the organization. This is particularly important if the "new thing" is "disruptive" in the sense of requiring the organization to review and possibly improve its policies, procedures and/or structures.
An organizational ombudsman who is holding to "standards of practice" in the US is neutral and visibly outside ordinary line and staff structures. An organizational ombudsman will practice informally (with no management decisionmaking power, and without accepting "notice" for the organization). An organizational ombudsman typically keeps no case records for an employer and keeps near absolute confidentiality. The only exception is where there appears to be an imminent risk of serious harm, and an ombudsman can see no responsible option other than breaking confidence -- but organizational ombuds programs report that they can almost always find "other responsible options", such as helping a visitor to make an anonymous report about whatever appears to be the problem.
ArmeniaThe ombudsman of the Republic of Armenia since 2006 is Mr. Armen Harutyunyan. Before him was Ms. Larisa Alaverdyan. http://www.ombuds.am
AustraliaThe Commonwealth Ombudsman in Australia was established in 1976. The Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the actions and decisions of Australian Government departments and agencies, the services delivered by most private contractors for the Australian Government, and oversee complaint investigations conducted by the Australian Federal Police.
The Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about delays in processing Freedom of Information requests (FOI) and complaints about FOI charges. The Commonwealth Ombudsman is also the Defence Force Ombudsman, Immigration Ombudsman, Postal Industry Ombudsman, Taxation Ombudsman, Law Enforcement Ombudsman and through an arrangement with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government, the ACT Ombudsman.
The current Commonwealth Ombudsman is Prof. John McMillan.
The various states in Australia have (variously described) state Ombudsman offices also, with similar jurisdiction as described above, except over state government authorities. There is much collaboration in an academic sense between Ombudsmen in Australia, given the highly similar nature of their roles (despite differing jurisdictions). The offices frequently work on joint projects, such as those addressing difficult client behaviour.
AzerbaijanThe ombudsman of the Republic of Azerbaijan is Elmira Suleymanova. She was elected by the Parliament of the to the Position of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 2 July, 2002. Elmira Suleymanova was born on 17 July, 1937 in Baku, Azerbaijan. She is a graduate of the faculty of chemistry at the Baku State University. She holds a degree of Ph.D., doctor of Chemistry (1980), professor (1982).From 1980, she was one of the leaders of women’s movement in Azerbaijan. Elmira Suleymanova has received numerous awards for the defense of Human Rights.
BulgariaThe institution of the Ombudsman in Bulgaria was established by law in 1998 but the first Ombudsman was elected in April 2005. There is a national ombudsman (Граждански защитник) and regional ombudsmen (Граждански посредници).
CroatiaThe Croatian Ombudsman is known as Pučki pravobranitelj, and was established by the Croatian Constitution in 1990. The Ombudsman is appointed by the Parliament, and has the task of ensuring that all government departments and officials follow the law.
There are also special ombudsmen for gender equality and ombudsmen for children, since 2003.
CyprusThe Cypriot Ombudsman is known as Commissioner for Administration , is an Independent Authority and was established οn 15 March 1991. Currently, the Ombudswoman (Commissioner for Administration) is Eliana Nicolaou. http://www.ombudsman.gov.cy/
- The Parliamentary Ombudsman (Folketingets Ombudsmand) was established in 1955. He investigates complaints brought by an individual or ex officio in all matters relating to public governance, including maladministration by central or local authorities, on a case-by-case basis and on a general scale. His main areas of expertise include administrative law; constitutional law; the rights of inmates in correction facilities; and access to information. He is appointed by the Danish Parliament (Folketing).
- The Consumer Ombudsman (Forbrugerombudsmanden) was established in 1974. His role is to ensure that the consumer protection and marketing rules are complied with by private undertakings, and can thus ultimately institute legal proceedings before the Copenhagen Maritime and Commercial Court.
EstoniaThe Estonian ombudsman is known as Õiguskantsler (Chancellor of Justice http://www.oiguskantsler.ee/?lang=eng).
European UnionThe European Ombudsman was established by the Maastricht treaty, the treaty establishing the European Union. The current European Ombudsman, holding office since April 1, 2003, is Nikiforos Diamandouros, former national ombudsman of Greece. The European Union Ombudsman investigates claims by companies which reside or have their interests within the European Union against incidents of bad administration by bodies or institutions of the European Union.
FranceIn France, since 1973, there is a Government appointed Ombudsman, the "Médiateur de la République". Currently Jean-Paul Delevoye is holding the office, for a single term that will elapse in 2010.
FinlandIn Finland the office of Parliamentary Ombudsman, modelled after the Swedish Ombudsman, was established by the Constitution of 1919. The Ombudsman is appointed by the Parliament, and has the task of ensuring that all government departments and officials follow the law. The Parliamentary Ombudsman shares many duties with the Chancellor of Justice. The Ombudsman has wide ranging oversight and investigative powers. She or he has access to all government facilities, documents and information systems and can order a police investigation if necessary. If the Ombudsman determines that a government official has not acted in accordance with the law she or he can advice on the proper application of the law, reprimand the official or in the extreme case order the criminal prosecution of the official. Partly because of the prosecutorial powers the Ombudsman enjoys considerable respect and her or his legal opinions are usually strictly followed. Her or his legal interpretations carry a lot of weight in the absence of a court precedent.
There are also special ombudsmen for gender equality, children's welfare, rights of ethnic minorities, data protection, and consumer protection, operating under the auspices of various ministries and other government agencies. Also, every health care provider in Finland is legally obliged to have a patients' rights ombudsman.
Republic of MacedoniaSince 1997 Macedonia has an Ombudsman Institution named Naroden pravobranitel for protection of citizens rights. The Ombudsman is appointed by the Parliament. Work of his competence the Ombudsman performs on the base and in the frame of the Constitution and the Law on the Ombudsman.
GeorgiaGeorgia's official ombudsman, or the "Public Defender", is Sozar Subari.
GreeceThe Greek Ombudsman is called the Citizen's Advocate and is an Independent Authority. Currently, the Citizen's Advocate is Professor Georgios Kaminis. The Advocate is assisted by five Assistant Advocates, who coordinate the activities of the Advocate's office in the five "theme circles" (areas) in which the office has authority: i) civil rights, ii) social protection, iii) quality of life, iv) state-citizen relationships and v) children's rights.
Hong KongThe Office of The Ombudsman, Hong Kong is an independent statutory authority, established in 1989 under the Ombudsman Ordinance, to redress grievances arising from maladministration in the public sector through independent and impartial investigations to improve the standard of public administration. Resources: Office of The Ombudsman, Hong Kong
IcelandThe post of umboðsmaður Alþingis was set up in 1987 under the terms of law number 13/1987, which deals with complaints against the government. His authority was expanded to local government levels in the 1997 law number 85/1997. The Ombudsman is appointed by Alþingi.
The Government of India has designated several ombudsmen (sometimes called Chief Vigilance Officer or CVO) for the redressal of grievances and complaints from individuals in the banking, insurance and other sectors being serviced by both private and public bodies and corporations.
In India, Ombudsman is called as Lokpal or Lokayukta. An Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) was set up on 5th January, 1966 under the Chairmanship of Shri Morarji Desai. It recommended a two-tier machinery, namely, Lokpal at the Centre and one Lokayukta each at the State level for redressal of people's grievances. The central Government introduced the first Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill in 1968 and lastly in 2005, which has also not so far been enacted.
Lokayukta institution has come into existence in different years, in different States in India. The first Lokayukta institution was established in the State of Orissa in the year 1970. There after, this institution was established in different States in different years namely: Maharashtra (1972), Bihar (1974), Uttar Pradesh (1977), Madhya Pradesh (1981), Andhra Pradesh (1983), Himachal Pradesh (1983), Karnataka (1984), Assam (1986), Gujarat (1988), Delhi (1995), Punjab (1996), Kerala (1998), Chhattishgarh (2002), Uttaranchal (2002) and West Bengal (2003) and Haryana (2004).
In the State of Rajasthan, the Lokayukta institution was established in the year 1973 after the Rajasthan Lokayukta and Up-Lokayuktas Act, 1973 was passed by the State Legislature and received assent of the President on 26.3.1973.
IrelandThe Office of Ombudsman was set up under the terms of the Ombudsman Act, 1980. The Ombudsman is appointed by the President of Ireland upon the nomination of both Houses of the Oireachtas, and is a civil servant of the State. The Ombudsman deals with complaints against Departments of State, local authorities, health boards and An Post.
There are other ombudsmen established in the Republic. The first Pensions Ombudsman, Paul Kenny, was appointed in 2003. Emily Logan became Ireland’s first Ombudsman for Children in March 2004. The Financial Services Ombudsman incorporated the older offices of the Insurance Ombudsman and Ombudsman for Credit Institutions in 2005. Also established in 2005 was the Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces, the first holder being Paulyn Marrinan Quinn, formerly an Insurance Ombudsman. An Act of 2005 created a three-person tribunal, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Garda Siochana#Garda Ombudsman Commission,to investigate complaints about the country's police force. All these offices are statutory and their holders are public servants. The creation of a (non-statutory) Press Ombudsman was announced in August 2007.
The State Comptroller of Israel also serves, by law, as Ombudsman. She or he discharges this function by way of a special unit in the Office of the State Comptroller, known as the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman investigates complaints against bodies that are statutorily subject to audit by the State Comptroller, including government ministries, local authorities, state enterprises and institutions and government companies, as well as their employees.
ItalyIn Italy there isn't an ombudsman at national level whereas many units of sub-national government (regions, provinces and communes) have their ombudsman, known as difensore civico, elected by regional, provincial or communal council.
Since 2007, Latvian ombudsman is a personalized institution literally called Rights' Defender (Tiesībsargs). Previously, similar functions were carried by National Human Rights Office (1995—2006).
Netherlands, TheThe idea of ombudsman was introduced in the Netherlands by VARA-presenter Tom Pauka, after a holiday in Sweden in 1969. A television program was started with the name De Ombudsman. Today the Constitution of the Netherlands determines that there is a National Ombudsman, a state institution.
New ZealandThe post of Ombudsman was established in New Zealand in 1962, with the aegis of investigation of complaints against government departments. In 1975 the post was expanded, with a Chief Ombudsman and several (number unspecified) of other ombudsmen. New Zealand also has three industry ombudsmen - the Banking Ombudsman, the Insurance and Savings Ombudsman, and the Electricity and Gas COmplaints Commissioner who is an ombudsman in all but name. The Parliamentary Ombudsman has a very high level of power in New Zealand, and it is either a very brave - or very foolish - government department who attempts to flout an Ombudsman's rulings.
- The Equality and Anti-Discrimination Ombud in Norway (Likestillings- og diskrimineringsombudet) was established in 1978 as the Gender Equality Ombud (Likestillingsombudet), the first of its kind in the world. In 2006, the Ombud was reorganised to include discrimination in general. The Ombud's task is to enforce the Norwegian Gender Equality Act and the act relating to prohibition of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, skin colour, language, religious and ethical orientation (Discrimination Act). The Ombud shall also enforce the anti-discrimination regulations in the Working Environment Act. The mandate of the Ombud also include to actively promote equality for discriminated groups, and to develop new knowledge through documentation and monitoring.
- The Parliamentary Ombudsman for Public Administration (Sivilombudsmannen) investigates complaints from citizens or may take up issues on own initiative complaints from citizens concerning injustice or maladministration from central government or local authorities.
- Ombudsman for Children in Norway (Barneombudet) has statutory rights to protect children and their rights. Since 1981, the Ombudsman for Children in Norway has worked continuously to improve national and international legislation affecting children's welfare. Norway was the first country in the world to establish an ombudsman for children.
- Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman (Forbrukerombudet) shall, in the interests of consumers, seek to prevent market abuses in conflict with the provisions stipulated in or pursuant to The Norwegian Marketing Control Act. The Consumer Ombudsman shall, acting on his own initiative or on the basis of communications from others, urge all businesspersons to conduct their activities in accordance with the provisions of the Marketing Control Act. The Consumer Ombudsman shall also ensure that the terms and conditions are not used in any way that may harm consumers and shall contribute to this end through negotiations with businesspersons or their organisations. The Consumer Ombudsman has received a lot of attention internationally since it has ruled that the iTunes music store's contract terms violates Norwegian consumer and marketing law.
- Local and regional authorities often have ombudsmen. Examples of this are ombudsmen for health and social affairs, ombudsmen for the elderly and ombudsmen for school students and apprentices at the upper secondary level.
In Pakistan, the establishment of the institution of Ombudsman was advocated on several occasions. It was, however, Article 276 of the Interim Constitution of 1972, which for the first time provided for the appointment of a Federal Ombudsman as well as Provincial Ombudsmen. Subsequently, the Constitution of 1973 included the Federal Ombudsman at item 13 of the Federal Legislative List in the Fourth Schedule. The Institution of Ombudsman was, however, actually brought into being through the Establishment of the Office of Wafaqi Mohtasib (Ombudsman) Order, 1983 (President’s Order No. 1 of 1983), which is now a part of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by virtue of Article 270-A. It started functioning on 8th August, 1983.
The Ombudsman in Pakistan is called "Wafaqi Mohtasib", (English: "Federal Ombudsman") with its headquarters in Islamabad and Regional Offices in Lahore, Sukkur, Quetta, Faisalabad, Multan, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar and Karachi. The official website of Ombudsman in Pakistan is http://www.mohtasib.gov.pk
PeruThe Peruvian Ombudsman is called "Defensor del Pueblo".
PhilippinesThe Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines is empowered by the 1987 Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas to safeguard the government and government-related institutions and corporations from corruption and dispense justice in the case of such offenses.
PolandThe Polish Ombudsman is called the Rzecznik Praw Obywatelskich.
PortugalThe Portuguese Ombudsman is called the Provedor de Justiça (Justice Provider), and its role is defined in article 23 of the Constitution of Portugal:
''1. Citizens may submit complaints against actions or omissions by the public authorities to the Ombudsman, who shall assess them without the power to take decisions and shall send the competent bodies such recommendations as may be necessary in order to prevent or make good any injustices.
2. The Ombudsman’s work shall be independent of any acts of grace or legal remedies provided for in this Constitution or the law.
3. The Ombudsman’s office shall be an independent body and the Assembly of the Republic shall appoint the Ombudsman for such time as the law may determine.
4. The bodies and agents of the Public Administration shall cooperate with the Ombudsman in the fulfilment of his mission.''
Besides the traditional roles, there are two toll-free lines: one for children and one for senior citizens.
RomaniaThe Romanian Ombudsman is known as Avocatul Poporului, meaning People's Advocate.
RussiaRussian ombudsman position is called "human rights commissioner". This chair is currently held by Vladimir Lukin.
SpainThe Spanish laws translate "ombudsman" as defensor del pueblo ("People's defender"). The Spanish Defensor can start processes at the Constitutional Court. There is a general Defensor del Pueblo for issues with the Spanish administration, and regional ones for the autonomous communities of Spain, for instance:
- Defensor del Pueblo Español
- Valedor do Pobo (Galicia)
- Arateko (Basque Country)
- Justicia de Aragón (Aragon)
- Síndic de Greuges (Catalonia)
- Sindic de Greuges (Land of Valencia)
- Defensor del Pueblo Andaluz (Andalusia)
- Procurador del Común (Castile-Leon)
- Defensor del Pueblo de Navarra/Nafarroako Ararteko (Navarre)
- Diputado del Común (Canary Islands)
- The Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsmen (Riksdagens ombudsmän)
- Swedish Ombudsman for Equal Opportunities, or Jämställdhetsombudsmannen (JämO). Monitors issues relating to gender equality and since 1st of March 2002, equal treatment of students at universities.
- Swedish Ombudsman for Children, or Barnombudsmannen. Observes matters affecting the rights and interests of children and young people.
- Swedish Disability Ombudsman, or Handikappombudsmannen. Monitors issues relating to the rights and interests of persons with disabilities.
- Swedish Ombudsman against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation, (HomO), or Ombudsmannen mot diskriminering på grund av sexuell läggning
- Swedish Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination, or Ombudsmannen mot etnisk diskriminering
Further, the Director-General of the Swedish Consumer Agency is also designated Consumer Ombudsman, and the Chancellor of Justice is an ombudsman of sorts.
UkraineOffice of ombudsman in Ukraine was instituted in 1998. Since then it is held by Nina Karpachova, who was reelected for the office 3 times. The last reelection date was February 8, 2007. Ukrainian's ombudsman official site: http://ombudsman.kiev.ua/
United KingdomIn the United Kingdom a post of Ombudsman is attached to the Westminster Parliament with additional posts at the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and other government institutions.
About UK Ombudsman ServicesThe primary UK Ombudsman is known as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, also known as the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (PCA), which looks into complaints "that government departments, their agencies and some other public bodies in the UK - and the NHS in England - have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service." The UK Ombudsman will usually investigate complaints where there has been evidence of "maladministration" having occurred which has resulted in an "unremedied injustice". Complaints to the Ombudsman are subject to a "time bar" - this means that the Ombudsman may determine a complaint to be out of jurisdiction if too much time has passed between the event or course of events being complained about and the complaint being received by the Ombudsman.
List of all Ombudsman Services in the United Kingdom
- Estate Agents Ombudsman
- Financial Ombudsman Service
- Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme for the Isle of Man
- Health Service Ombudsman - England (Ombudsman)
- Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS)
- Legal Services Ombudsman
- Local Government Ombudsman - England
- Northern Ireland Ombudsman
- Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland
- Parliamentary Ombudsman (Ombudsman)
- Pensions Ombudsman (Pensions Ombudsman)
- Prisons and Probation Ombudsman
- Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
- Removals Industry Ombudsman Scheme
- Scottish Legal Services Ombudsman
- Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
- Telecommunications Ombudsman (OTELO)
- Furniture ombudsman
ShortcomingsThe impartiality of some UK Ombudsman services has been questioned. In particular the Local Government Ombudsman - all three current Local Ombudsmen previously served as Chief Executives in Local Government and the Local Government Association played a part in their appointment - have been accused of bias and of merely acting as a rubber stamp. [http://ombudsmanwatch.org
Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) http://www.dhs.gov/cisombudsman provides recommendations for resolving individual and employer problems with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As mandated by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 § 452, The Office of the CIS Ombudsman (CISOMB) is not a part of USCIS, it is an independent DHS office that reports directly to the DHS Deputy Secretary.
The DHS CIS Ombudsman:
(1) Assists individuals and employers in resolving problems with USCIS;
(2) Identifies areas in which individuals and employers have problems in dealing with USCIS; and
(3) Proposes changes to mitigate identified problems.
By June 30 of each calendar year the Ombudsman submits an annual report to the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary without any prior comment or amendment from any administrative agency official including: the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, or Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The Ombudsman’s annual reports focus on identifying systemic issues that cause delay in granting immigration benefits as well as pervasive and serious problems faced by individuals and employers in their interactions with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
United States Navy
The US Navy implemented an ombudsman program in 1970, under the direction of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. Through the Navy Ombudsman Program, communication between the spouses of active duty personnel and the command is kept open, thereby improving the quality of life for everyone involved. The Navy command ombudsman is a volunteer position, with no special favors bestowed upon them. The purpose of this program is to ensure the dependents of active duty personnel have a channel of resources for their needs and quality of life. A command ombudsman can guide you to the help you may need, before, during or after a deployment. The Navy Ombudsman undergoes almost constant training, and is bound by confidentiality in most cases, the exception being any hint of child abuse. An ombudsman meets with department heads aboard a naval installation to find out the latest news, and pass it on, including news on ship deployments, cutting down on potentially harmful gossip.
Los Angeles, CA
The Los Angeles County Department of Ombudsman was created via the approval of an ordinance in 1993 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. This department was the first of its kind in the state of California and the first nationally involved in law enforcement oversight.
New York City
The New York Public Advocate has an Ombudsman team that investigates and responds to telephone and written complaints/queries regarding city agency services, providing information and referrals.
State level ombudsmen
The job description for state offices of ombudsmen invariably involves the trouble-shooting function of investigating citizen complaints concerning specific acts by government agencies. For example, in Nebraska the ombudsman's duties are as follows:
To receive complaints from the public and from persons working in government; to investigate; and where appropriate to negotiate remedial action with the agencies involved. A secondary duty is to answer questions and assist people with problems relating to government.
Since 1967 at least five states have established and continued to employ a full-time ombudsman, i.e Hawaii, Nebraska, Alaska, Iowa, and Arizona.
Other states have ombudsmen specific to particular issues. New York State has, for example, a longterm care ombudsman whose duties include assistance to residents of nursing homes. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management employs an ombudsman "charged with authority to undertake independent, and in certain cases confidential, fact-finding in response to external or internal complaints or questions about the Department's performance." The office is currently held by Thomas Getz.
In the science fiction television series, Babylon 5, the arbiters aboard space station Babylon 5 who preside over cases stemming from public complaints are referred to as ombuds (this is both the singular and plural designation), the gender-neutral title for an ombudsman. Just as with their modern European counterparts, the ombuds only preside over public cases, including robbery, assault, and murder, and do not interpret law as a regular judiciary does.
- JPGMOnline.com - 'The role of the ombudsman in biomedical journals', Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, Vol 48, No 4, pp 292-296, 2002
- OmbudsmanWatch.org - 'Local Government Ombudsman Watch' (United Kingdom)
- POGO.org - 'EPA Ombudsman Resigns: Accountability in Handling of Superfund Sites Threatened', Project on Government Oversight (April 22, 2002)
- Transparency.org - 'What is an Ombudsman'
- DCAF Backgrounder - 'Military Ombudsman, (May 2005)'
- Ombuds Blog - 'News and Information For and About Organizational Ombuds'
- Ombudsman Institutions and Minority Issues, Study by the European Centre for Minority Issues
Australian government ombudsmen
- Ombudsman.gov.au - 'Commonwealth Ombudsman Australia: Assisting the Australian community by resolving complaints and fostering good government administration'
- Omb-HCSCC.nt.gov.au - 'Ombudsman for the Northern Territory'
- ombudsman.vic.gov.au - Ombudsman Victoria
- OmbO.nsw.gov.au - New South Wales Ombudsman
- Ombudsman.sa.gov.au - The Ombudsman South Australia Office: '[to provide] free, impartial, informal and timely resolution of complaints to promote fairness, openness and good public administration in South Australia'
- ombudsman/home.html - Tasmanian Ombudsman: investigates complaints regarding public authority administrative action and contravention of state privacy legislation, conducts Freedom of Information reviews in respect of government agencies and can accept public interest disclosures (ie. whistleblowing complaints) and other miscellaneous functions (eg. auditing of police telephone interception warrants).
The TIO is authorised to investigate complaints about the provision or supply of telephone or Internet services. (information was supplied by the official website of the TIO)
Azerbaijan government ombudsman
Brazilian government ombudsmen
- ouvidoria-policia.sp.gov.br - 'Ouvidoria da polícia do Estado de São Paulo'
- ouvidoriasds.rn.gov.br - 'Ouvidoria da Secretaria de Defesa Social do estado do Rio Grande do Norte'
Canadian government ombudsmen
- GNB.ca - 'The New Brunswick Ombudsman's Office': one central mission: to ensure that all New Brunswick citizens are treated with administrative fairness by government and its agencies.
- HOA.gov.nl.ca - 'Newfoundland and Labrador Citizens' Representative'
- Gov.ns.ca - 'Nova Scotia Office of the Ombudsman: If you feel you have been treated unfairly by a provincial or municipal government body, or you have a complaint about a Nova Scotia government service...'
- Ombudsman.bc.ca - 'Ombudsman British Columbia: Promoting Fairness for British Columbians'
- Ombudsman.mb.ca - 'Ombudsman Manitoba'
- Ombudsman.on.ca - 'Ombudsman Ontario - Ontario's Watchdog. Mission: to support the need for accountability, transparency and oversight in the provision of government services'
- ProtecteurduCitoyen.qc.ca - 'Le Protecteur du Citoyen' / 'The Québec's Ombudsman' (English language link)
- Ombudsman.yk.ca - 'Office of the Yukon Ombudsman and Information & Privacy Commissioner'
- LegAssembly.sk.ca - 'Ombudsman Saskatchewan'
- Ombudsman.ab.ca - 'Alberta Ombudsman'
- http://www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca - 'Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces'
- http://www.ombudsman-veterans.gc.ca/content/ - Veterans Ombudsman
- ombudsman.cl - 'Capitulo Chileno Ombudsman' (in Spanish)
European Parliament ombudsman
Philippine government ombudsman
Swedish government ombudsmen
- JO - Justitieombudsmannen (Parliamentary Ombudsmen: The Ombudsmen of Justice)
- BO - Barnombudsmannen (Ombudsman for Children)
- DO - Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (Ethnic Discrimination Ombudsman)
- HomO - Ombudsmannen mot diskriminering på grund av sexuell läggning (Ombudsman against Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation)
- JämO - Jämställdhetsombudsmannen (Equal Opportunities Ombudsman)
- Konsumentverket/KO - Konsumentverket/Konsumentombudsmannen (The Swedish Consumer Agency/Consumer Ombudsman)'
- JK - Justitiekanslern (The Chancellor of Justice)
Ukrainian government ombudsman
United Kingdom government ombudsmen
- Financial-Ombudsman.org.uk - 'The Financial Ombudsman Service: provides consumers with a free, independent service for resolving disputes with financial firms'
- IHOS.org.uk - 'Housing Ombudsman Service': An independent service dealing with complaints against landlords & agents, and other housing disputes'
- LGO.org.uk - 'Commissioner for Local Administration in England: Local Government Ombudsmen's Home Page'
- NI-Ombudsman.org.uk - Northern Ireland Ombudsman's Office
- OLSO.org - 'Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman'
- Ombudsman.org.uk - 'Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman: Making complaints a positive experience
- Ombudsman.gov.ie - '(Irish) Office of the Ombudsman'
- Ombudsmanwatch.org 'Local Government Ombudsman complaints body'
- Ombudsman-Wales.org - 'Public Services Ombudsman for Wales'
- Pensions-Ombudsman.org.uk - 'The Pensions Ombudsman: investigates and decides complaints and disputes about the way that pension schemes are run'
- OTelO.org.uk - 'Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman: We are an Ombudsman Service for public communication providers and their customers'
- ScottishOmbudsman.org.uk - 'Scottish Public Services Ombudsman'
United States government ombudsmen
- http://www.dhs.gov/cisombudsman - The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) provides recommendations for resolving individual and employer problems with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- pubadvocate.nyc.gov Although carrying a different official title, the New York Public Advocate is the ombudsman for residents of New York City
- Ombudmhmr.state.mn.us - 'State of Minnesota Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities'
- Ombudsman.state.hi.us - 'State of Hawaii Office of the Ombudsman: independently and impartially investigates complaints against state and county agencies and employees'
- http://www.legis.state.ia.us/Ombudsman/ - 'Office of Citizens' Aide Ombudsman, Des Moines, Iowa'
- azleg.state.az.us/ombudsman/default.htm - 'Arizona's Ombudsman Citizen's Aide'
- http://www.state.ak.us/local/akpages/LEGISLATURE/ombud/home.htm - 'State of Alaska Ombudsman'
- http://www.tennessee.gov/tccy/ombuds.html - The Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth's (TCCY) Ombudsman Program was established in 1996. The juvenile justice program serves children who are in the foster care system and kinship care or relative caregiver placement. TCCY has statutory authority to review children in state custody and make recommendations for improvement.
- http://www.fda.gov/oc/ombudsman/homepage.htm - The goal of FDA's Ombudsman is to help ensure that the agency fulfills its regulatory responsibilities well. In the short term, the Office is dedicated to facilitating problem resolution. In the long term, the Office looks at issues systematically in order to make the process work better. Thus it welcomes more general complaints, comments, and suggestions about FDA's regulatory processes.
Non-governmental (organizational) ombudsmen
- Trent Stamp's Take - Commentary on the Red Cross selection for Ombudsman
- OEA.co.uk - 'Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme: A free, fair and independent service for buyers and sellers of residential property in the UK'
- ESPN - Ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber is the public's representative to ESPN, offering independent examination and analysis of ESPN's media outlets. The former New York Times sports editor and author will critique decision-making, coverage and presentation of news, issues and events on ESPN television and other media. Schreiber will have a two-year tenure and succeeds George Solomon, ESPN's initial Ombudsman.
- National Public Radio - In October 2007, journalist, author, media critic and educator Alicia C. Shepard began a two-year appointment as Ombudsman for NPR.
- BIOA.org.uk - 'British and Irish Ombudsman Association' (BIOA)
- NewsOmbudsman.org - 'Organization of News Ombudsmen' (ONO)
- OmbudsAssociation.org - 'The International Ombudsman Association (IOA)
- USOmbudsman.org - 'The United States Ombudsman Association: Promoting and supporting fairness, accountability, and equity in government through the public sector ombudsman'
- UVA.nl - 'The European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education' (ENOHE), Universiteit van Amsterdam
- IOI - International Ombudsman Institute (IOI)
- EOI - European Ombudsman Institute (EOI)
- AOA- Asian Ombudsman Association (AOA): Promoting and developing the concepts of Ombudsmanship in Asia'
- CFO - Coalition of Federal Ombudsman (CFO) - Promoting and Assisting Ombudsman in the United States Government
- UAlberta.ca - International Ombudsman Institute (international directory of ombudsmen)
- Ombuds Blog - 'Info re Organizational Ombuds (includes lists of corporate, academic, governmental, and non-governmental ombuds offices; ombuds job postings; critical ombuds documents; and resources for creating an ombuds office)'
ombudsman in Azerbaijani: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Bulgarian: Омбудсман
ombudsman in Czech: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Danish: Ombudsmand
ombudsman in German: Ombudsmann
ombudsman in Estonian: Õigusvahemees
ombudsman in Spanish: Defensor del Pueblo
ombudsman in Esperanto: Ombudsmano
ombudsman in French: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Croatian: Pučki pravobranitelj
ombudsman in Indonesian: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Italian: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Hebrew: נציבות תלונות הציבור
ombudsman in Latvian: Tiesībsargs
ombudsman in Luxembourgish: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Hungarian: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Macedonian: Народен правобранител
ombudsman in Dutch: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Japanese: オンブズマン
ombudsman in Norwegian: Ombudsmann
ombudsman in Polish: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Portuguese: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Russian: Омбудсмен
ombudsman in Serbian: Омбудсман
ombudsman in Finnish: Oikeusasiamies
ombudsman in Swedish: Ombudsman
ombudsman in Thai: ผู้ตรวจการแผ่นดินของรัฐสภา
ombudsman in Turkish: Ombudsman
JA, agent, amicus curiae, assessor, barmaster, chancellor, circuit judge, connection, deputy, front, front man, go-between, interagent, interceder, intercessor, intermediary, intermediate, intermediate agent, intermediator, intermedium, internuncio, intervener, interventionist, interventor, judge advocate, judge ordinary, jurat, justice in eyre, justice of assize, lay judge, legal assessor, master, mediator, medium, middleman, military judge, mouthpiece, negotiant, negotiator, negotiatress, negotiatrix, ordinary, police judge, presiding judge, probate judge, puisne judge, recorder, spokesman, spokeswoman, vice-chancellor