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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 ?
19) This is the same type of service that an ombudsman for the courts can provide, i.
He said the federal ombudsman secretariat was providing justice to the government employees in 60 days after receiving complaint.
In line with the law on the ombudsman, if activities of the institute are recognized unsatisfactory, its powers should be prematurely terminated.
An ombudsman is officially independent of both the companies and the consumer.
The ombudsman, according to the UGC notification, will have to issue an order within a month after receiving a complaint with specific directive to the concerned institution.
Whether appointed by the legislature, the executive, or an organization (or, less frequently, elected by the constituency that he or she serves), the typical duties of an ombudsman are to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations (binding or not) or mediation.
The ombudsman has come full circle, from the Ottoman Empire through Sweden and back to Turkey," the ambassador said, noting that Sweden has offered assistance with the establishment of an ombudsman system to nearly 100 countries.
Bahrain's first police ombudsman office was launched in July amid assurances from Nawaf Al Mutawa, the ombudsman, that his work would be transparent, honest and objective.
The overall financial ombudsman service levy - paid by financial providers - will jump 30 per cent to PS23million in the year from April.
In addition to bringing parties together to help resolve disputes in individual franchise systems, the IFA Ombudsman program serves the entire franchise community by helping identify industry-wide franchise relations trends and common conflicts.
The complaints that the Financial Ombudsman deals with include PPI claims , mortgage claims, pension and investment claims.
THE NHS trust covering Coventry and Warwickshire has been fined PS2,500 by the Health Service Ombudsman.