The MSU Ombuds is an Organizational Ombudsman
An Organizational Ombudsman is an individual who serves as a designated neutral within a specific organization and provides conflict resolution and problem-solving services to members of the organization (internal ombudsman) and/or for clients or customers of the organization (external ombudsman). There are Organizational Ombudsmen in all sectors (corporate, academic, governmental, non-governmental, and non-profit). Some may serve both internal and external constituencies.
An Organizational Ombudsman provides confidential, informal, independent and impartial assistance to individuals through dispute resolution and problem-solving methods such as conflict coaching, mediation, facilitation, and shuttle diplomacy. The Organizational Ombudsman responds to concerns and disputes brought forward by visitors to the office and may report trends, systemic problems, and organizational issues to high-level leaders and executives in a confidential manner. He or she does not advocate for individuals, groups or entities, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity. The Organizational Ombudsman does not play a role in formal processes, formal investigations of problems brought to the office’s attention, or represent any side in a dispute.
Are there other kinds of Ombudsmen?
These Ombudsmen receive and investigate complaints and concerns regarding governmental policies and processes. The authority and mandate of Classical Ombudsmen are typically provided by statutory language. These Ombudsmen may be elected by constituents or appointed by a legislature or organization to monitor citizens’ treatment under the law. Classical Ombudsmen generally have authority to conduct investigations and make recommendations for appropriate redress or policy change.
An Advocate Ombudsman may be located in either the public or private sector. He or she evaluates claims objectively but is authorized or required to advocate on behalf of individuals or groups found to be aggrieved. Advocate Ombudsmen are often found in organizations such as long-term care facilities or agencies, and organizations that work with juvenile offenders.
Hybrid Ombudsmen are usually established by policy or terms of reference by both private and public sector organizations. They primarily use informal methods to resolve complaints but also have the power to investigate and the authority to publish annual and special reports.
An Executive Ombudsman may be located in either the public or private sector and receives complaints concerning actions and failures to act of the organization, its officials, employees and contractors. An Executive Ombudsman may either work to hold the organization or one of its programs accountable or work with the organization’s officials to improve the performance of a program.
A Legislative Ombudsman is a part of the legislative branch of a government entity and addresses issues raised by the general public or internally, usually concerning the actions or policies of government entities, individuals or contractors with respect to holding agencies accountable to the public.
The Media, or News, Ombudsman is familiar to many people. The News Ombudsman’s primary objective is to promote transparency within his or her news organization. This Ombudsman can receive and investigate complaints about news reporting on behalf of members of the public and then recommend the most suitable course of action to resolve issues raised in the complaints. The News Ombudsman is an independent officer acting in the best interests of news consumers. He or she explains the roles and obligations of journalism to the public and acts as a mediator between the expectations of the public and the responsibilities of journalists. (For more information, see http://newsombudsmen.org/.)