Ombudsman may be one of the strangest sounding professions in the country. Many people don’t know that they exist or what their job entails. However, they provide an extremely valuable service. A service that most American residents have benefited from even if they aren’t aware of it. The following article will take a closer look at what an ombudsman does, what different types there are, and how they help citizens.
What Are They?
The basic definition of an ombudsman is this: ” an official who represents the public and instigates complaints of maladministration”. They work at varying levels of the government and with many public services. Most ombudsmen are appointed by the government, but still maintain a high level of independence in their work. In many ways, their work is similar to that of an Inspector General or a citizens advocate.
Above is the basic definition and outline of their work, but it certainly doesn’t encompass all of the many roles that an ombudsman might play. In a broader sense, they handle dispute resolutions of all sorts. Their role is that of a neutral intermediary. They often intend to represent the public or the citizens, but not always.
Two ombudsmen may have very different jobs. It depends entirely where and who they work with. Let’s look at a couple of the most common types that are helping people in America today.
Types Of Ombudsmen.
The American Bar Association has adopted a few different resolutions in the past sixty years that help define what an Ombudsman is and what they do. These different resolutions can be used to identify what type of Ombudsman one is and what sort of work they do on a regular basis. As of 2004, there are five different categorizations for ombudsmen.
The classical ombudsmen, which is often referred to as a traditional ombud, generally works on behalf of the public from within an entity. They address the policies and actions of government entities as well as government officials. Ombudsmen of this sort are slowly vanishing and being replaced with the more specific categories of “executive” or “legislative”.
As you may have guessed, a legislative ombud will work with the legislative branch of the government. An executive ombud is not chosen by the government but rather is elected by the head of an entity or organization. In both cases, these ombudsmen hold the entities responsible for their actions.
The fourth type is an advocate ombudsman. This classification refers to an ombud who advocates on behalf of individuals who have been wronged. They do not work specifically within a single entity. Their job includes representing individuals and initiating required actions based on what they have learned.
Confusing But Important.
The specifics of their roles may sound confusing at first, but ombudsmen play extremely important roles in modern society. They are the unsung heroes who work within the government and within various organizations to protect the rights of people. You can rest assured that the actions of an ombud have affected your life in some way at some point.