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(äm`bədzmən) [Swed.,=agent or representative], public official appointed to deal with individual complaints against government acts. The office originated in Sweden in 1809 when the Swedish legislature created a riksdagens justitieombudsman, or parliamentary agent of justice, and in the 20th cent. it has been adopted by a number of countries. As a government agent serving as an intermediary between citizens and the government bureaucracy, the ombudsman is usually independent, impartial, universally accessible, and empowered only to recommend. In the United States the term ombudsman has been used more widely to describe any machinery adopted by private organizations (e.g., large business corporations and universities) as well as by government to investigate complaints of administrative abuses. In 1969, Hawaii became the first of many American states to appoint an ombudsman.


See studies by G. Sawyer (2d ed. 1968), F. Stacey (1978), and D. C. Rowat (2d ed. 1986).



in bourgeois states, an official empowered by the constitution or a special law to oversee the workings of government institutions, ministries, and departments. The position of ombudsman was first provided for in the Swedish Constitution of 1809.

In most countries the ombudsman acts nominally on behalf of the parliament, on the initiative of individuals or legal entities that have approached him. The official title of the position of such a government supervisor varies: for example, in France, intermédiaire, and in Great Britain, New Zealand, and India, “parliamentary commissioner” (plenipotentiary). In some countries there are several ombudsmen, each of whom is assigned a certain sphere of administration (in Sweden, for example, there are civil, military, and consumer ombudsmen). Ombudsmen are elected by parliament or appointed by the head of state. In monitoring the actions of officials in the government apparatus, the ombudsman does not have the right to revoke their decisions, but he can make recommendations. In most countries the ombudsmen’s control is very limited; it does not cover the activities of the government, ministers, foreign-policy departments, the police, or municipal agencies.


1. a commissioner who acts as independent referee between individual citizens and their government or its administration
2. (in Britain) an official, without power of sanction or mechanism of appeal, who investigates complaints of maladministration by members of the public against national or local government or its servants
References in periodicals archive ?
But many current and past ombuds have examples of cases where they've made a difference, however gradual.
Credible Ombuds Committees and competent conciliation can still hold its own provided Ombuds Committee professionals and conciliation services have the right competencies and the right perspectives to deploy the competencies for facilitated disputes resolution processes, while it is incumbent on disputants to work towards strengthening the ecosystem for conciliated settlements as opposed to resolving disputes through other available methods.
For coping with these subjects, university ombuds strategies are predominantly communicative in nature and include such well know techniques as active listening, giving hearing to feelings, defusing rage, giving advice, creative problem solving and developing options, investigation and fact findings, shuttle diplomacy, and often mediation and coaching (Harrison, 2004; Rowe, 1987, 1991, 1995; Robbins & Deane, 1986).
The Ombuds Office in Peru, for example, has been committed since 2002, when it published the first report on EC.
In addition, an ombuds assists the company in identifying and effecting improvements and preventative changes.
The ABA has identified three critical characteristics for ombuds offices: independence, impartiality, and confidentiality.
The ombuds must be fully trained in negotiations and dispute resolution techniques and be willing to take bold action when called for in the course of carrying out his duties.
The association holds an annual conference, sponsors research to study the function and effectiveness of ombuds programs, and sets standards for the profession.
Art Nauman even ombuds himself and confesses his own error for having written "no less than five" instead of "no fewer than five" Some explain just how the subject matter complained about happened--tracing its origins and reasons--thus contributing to public understanding of the news process, and its fallibility.
In their place, we have installed a system most properly described as 308 elected ombuds.
The OBS's turnaround times were largely unmatched by global banking ombuds," observes Pillay.