Role of the Ombudsman

11/30/2015

An Ombudsman (conventional English plural: ombudsmen) is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing the broad scope of constituent interests. An indigenous Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish term, Ombudsman is etymologically rooted in the Old Norse wordumbuðsmann, essentially meaning "representative". An ombudsman is an official, usually 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.

Role of the Ombudsman
Usually appointed by the organization, but sometimes elected by the constituency, the ombudsman may, for example, investigate constituent complaints relating to the organization and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations (binding or not) or mediation. Ombudsmen sometimes identify organizational roadblocks running counter to constituent interests.

In some jurisdictions an ombudsman charged with the handling of concerns about national government is more formally referred to as the "Parliamentary Commissioner" (e.g., the United Kingdom Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, and the Western Australian state Ombudsman). In many countries where the ombudsman's remit extends beyond dealing with alleged maladministration to promoting and protecting human rights, the ombudsman is recognized as the national human rights institution. 

The word ombudsmanand its specific meaning have been adopted in various languages, including Spanish, Dutch and Czech. The post of ombudsman has been instituted by other governments and organizations such as the European Union.

An ombudsman may not be appointed by a legislature, but may instead be appointed by, or even work for, a corporation such as a utility supplier or a newspaper, for an NGO, for a professional regulatory body, or for local or municipal government.

In some countries an Inspector General may have duties similar to or overlapping with an ombudsman appointed by the legislature.

Making a complaint to an ombudsman is usually free of charge.

(references www.ncf.org.za and www.wikipedia.org)

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