Ombudsman Programs Overview

In our final entry regarding ombudsman programs, we discuss some of the factors you may wish to consider, if your organization is considering an ombudsman program.

Is an Ombudsman Program Right for My Organization?

The decision to implement an ombudsman program must essentially be a public entity or management decision. To be effective, an ombudsman program cannot be imposed from the bottom up, because it is imperative that public officials or the organizational management structure support the concept and are active in assuring potential users of the safety and usefulness of the program.  Officials or managers must also be prepared to respond to reports of concerns and to implement the changes appropriate to address individual and thematic concerns.  An ombudsman program can be an extremely useful adjunct to a government entity or organization’s current services when some or all of the following symptoms exist in the organization:

  • An overloaded, or slow and ineffective formal compliant processing system;
  • Formal grievances or complaints that include claims (such as formal discrimination claims) that, when fully investigated, appear to have been included to “get the person” in the door of the formal process, but are not at the root of the real issue;
  • Recurrent conflicts within the same unit;
  • Widespread accusations of misconduct, wrong-doing, or questionable actions or motives and mistrust of management;
  • High staff turn-over and difficulties in recruiting new employees
  • Competing and incompatible “truths” being shared with management, when it is not positioned to assess which perspectives are valid.

Who Can I Contact for Questions or to Receive More Information?

In addition to Business Excellence Solutions, there are many resources available to provide information and to answer questions. Some of the key resources are listed below:

The International Ombudsman Association
390 Amwell Road, Suite 403
Hillsborough, NJ 08844 USA
Tel: 1+908-359-0246
Fax: 1+908-842-0376

The United States Ombudsman Association
5619 NW 86th St.,
Ste. 600
Johnston, IA 50131-2955
Telephone: 515-225-2323
Fax: 515-327-5050

The National Long Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036

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