4/09/2006

Establishing an Effective Ombuds Office

This paper from Mediate.com examines "the considerations that go into establishing an Ombuds Office within an organization, what constitutes the usual requirements to allow the Office to perform its functions effectively and some strategic considerations about how to implement such a plan. The paper identifies a number of pitfalls that may be encountered along the way and concludes with some suggestions of what an Ombuds Office can and cannot reasonably be expected to accomplish." A few highlights from a comprehensive article include:

"Requirements for a Feasible Ombuds Office

Alignment:
...For an ombuds Office to work it will need to be part of a conflict resolving system. The organization must decide what it values in that system and know what it wishes to accomplish with it...

Autonomy:
An ombudsperson needs, as much as is possible, to have an arms length relationship with the organization he or she serves...

Due Process:
...This includes such fundamentals as: providing both sides to a dispute a full and fair opportunity to be heard; ensuring that no one in the organization is sitting in an adjudicative capacity over a matter where he or she has a direct interest; providing an opportunity to fully respond to the case made by the "other side"; providing reasonable notice of any investigation or hearing to individuals affected by the controversy and allowing a fair length of time for parties to prepare and make submissions; wherever possible providing reasons for decisions that affect people

Resources:
The organization must make resources available such that the ombudsperson can perform their responsibilities in a diligent and timely manner..."

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