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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 ?
And the ombudsman program finds creative ways to use the civil monetary penalties collected in the federally required resident protection fund accumulated from nursing home deficiencies.
Using quarterly complaint data for 2002-2006 from the NC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and from the NC Division of Health Service Regulation (DHSR, which is the state certification agency), we consider associations between facility-level and resident-level measures of quality and both types of complaints.
HEYL: Vis-a-vis franchise relationship bills, how do you see the IFA Ombudsman Program in reducing the need for such legislation?
Your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman program can help with any concerns or questions you have about nursing homes.
Diane Persson is director of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and academic preceptor for the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing's Long Term Care Administration Program.
Robyn Grant, president of the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs, said this proposal was ``dangerous and irresponsible'' because nursing home residents received many drugs and medication errors and ``may have life-threatening consequences.
Ombudsman programs provide the tools for Navy ombudsmen to offer support and guidance to command families and to act as the liaison between the command and its families.
The Ombudsman program provides advocacy assistance to those living in Michigan's 4500+ licensed long term care facilities, overseeing local ombudsman programs and serving as the voice of residents before policy makers.
In 1978, amendments to the Older Americans Act required states to develop statewide ombudsman programs and reporting systems and mandated that nursing facilities give ombudsmen access to facilities, residents, and records.
Among others, the act funds the long term care ombudsman programs.