Understanding the Different Types of Ombudsman Programs

Many people are familiar with some form of an ombudsman program. Because there are several predominant models, it can be confusing when one encounters a program designed to a different set of principles. Todays segment of the article on Ombudsman programs focuses on an overview of ombudsman program types.

Are There Different Program Models for Ombudsman Programs?

There are many different models currently in use worldwide. They differ significantly depending on the specific organization or user-base that they serve. There are even variations in approaches and models within each of the predominant models. Programs are often adapted to fit the individual needs of the organization or user-base. There are common elements in all ombudsman programs, regardless of the variation in their approach. As an overview, the American Bar Association acknowledges three major types of ombudsman programs: Classical Ombudsman Programs, which include programs created by Legislative or Executive authorization, Organizational Ombudsman Programs, which are typically found in place in corporate and academic settings, and Advocacy Ombudsman Programs, which are more often used in long-term care settings or for other programs involving patients or persons with disabilities. All programs share common attributes, but there are very distinct differences among the approaches. While this adaptability contributes to some confusion in the public and the judicial system, it also enables many organizations to provide an important, adaptable service to their stakeholders in a way best suited to the specific organization.

What are the Key Differences Between the Ombudsman Program Models?

Each major type of ombudsman program is described here briefly.

Classical Ombudsman Programs:

Legislative Ombuds: A legislative ombuds is established by the legislature as part of the legislative branch who receives complaints from the general public or internally and addresses actions and failures to act of a government agency, official, public employee, or contractor.
Executive Ombuds: An executive ombuds may be located in either the public or private sector and receives complaints from the general public or internally and addresses actions and failures to act of the entity, its officials, employees, and contractors.

Organizational Ombuds Programs:

College and University Ombuds Programs and Corporate Ombuds Programs:  Typically use an organizational ombudsman program approach to facilitate fair and equitable resolutions of concerns that arise within the entity.

Advocacy Ombuds Programs:

Long-term Care and Similar Ombuds Programs: Typically use an advocate ombudsman approach where the ombudsman serves as an advocate on behalf of a population that is designated in the charter.


About Bruce MacAllister

Bruce MacAllister is the founder and Executive Director of Business Excellence Solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Chemistry and Biology and a Juris Doctorate degree. He has over thirty years of experience working with people in conflict, and training and coaching people through conflict situations. He works nationally and internationally with a wide variety of clients, including national departments, research and development organizations, institutions of higher education, non-profits, and individual businesspeople. He has been an ombudsman, executive level manager, project and program manager, trainer, and attorney. Click the "About Us" page to see his full biography. (http://bizexteam.com/index.php/about-us/.)
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One Response to Understanding the Different Types of Ombudsman Programs

  1. Emmanuel says:

    I found this article very useful, thanks.

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