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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 ?
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).
Ombuds are able to provide unqualified confidentiality because they are not part of any formal management structure.
We do have some direct authority, and this differs from the classic ombuds model.
On the downside, it is often difficult to identify an individual from the higher echelons who is both capable of and willing to assume the ombuds mantle.
Being the only Ombuds man, I try to be available to all persons whenever possible, but there is always an investigator available to see complainants.
Ombuds man Ann Abraham ruled Eddie was the victim of a "very serious and prolonged injustice".
In El Salvador, Rosada's view is seconded by Human Rights ombuds Beatrice Alamanni de Carrillo, who has said, "There will not be an exhaustive investigation, either in El Salvador or in Guatemala, to reach the truth.
Yet the movement claimed that it was not gender neutral, and in the university schemes altered it indiscriminately to ombudsperson (plural, "ombudspeople"), ombud, ombuds (plural, "ombudses'), or even ombudsbuddy or ombuddy.
National Public Radio has hired an ombuds "to receive, independently investigate and respond to queries from the public regarding editorial standards in its programming.
Other forms of ADR include fact-finding, ombuds, mini-trials, private judging, partnering and elections.
Vicki's leadership was fundamental to the formation of key company functions and initiatives, including our debt and cash management platforms, our pension and 401(k) plan investment programs, our first enterprise-wide Risk Management function, our Global Diversity Council and the Ombuds Office," said John F.