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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 was 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
"Since the Ombudsman has assumed jurisdiction over this case, no other agency is allowed to conduct a parallel investigation unless so authorized by the Ombudsman pursuant to law," Martires said.
The Ombudsman said in the case at hand, the UDC leader had not shown that the DISS Director General was exercising administrative functions as envisaged by the said section when he conducted himself in a manner that Advocate Boko deemed overzealous bodyguard behaviour that amounted to him overstepping his security functions.
Further, it was also decided in 2011 to close the vacant offices of Indirect Tax Ombudsman. (ANI)
'Under the circumstances, we hold that if the employer or organization and its workplace falls strictly within the territorial boundaries of the Provincial Ombudsman, then jurisdiction vests with the Provincial Ombudsman and where the employer or organization transcends provincial boundaries such as in this case then jurisdiction vests with the Federal Ombudsman,' rules the division bench in its verdict.
'An ombudsman is an independent office that exists in different agencies or institutions, meaning there can be multiple ombudsmen.
In his new role, Bryant will manage the day-to-day activities of the Office of the Managed Care Ombudsman, assist consumers in understanding their rights and how to resolve problems with their MCHIPs and answer inquiries from consumers, health care providers and others.
3, two administrative cases were filed in Malacanang against Carandang, Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao Rodolfo Elman, and the fact-finding team handling the complaint against the Duterte family, seeking their dismissal.
He said the strategy of federal ombudsman was commendable in that regard.
The ombudsman, who was addressing a seminar organised jointly by the Express Media Group and the Federal Insurance Ombudsman, said a better understanding of the policy holders' trust in the insurance companies' policies can lead to even more awareness about insurance in the country.
Azerbaijan is planning to rename the bank ombudsman and establish the institute of financial ombudsman, according to reports by the Azerbaijan Banks Association.
He said the work is underway to rename the bank ombudsman and establish the institute of financial ombudsman.
(TAP)- The decree on the creation of the post of ombudsman needs to be amended to provide for cooperation with parliamentarians as key actors in good governance, said Ombudsman Abdessattar Ben Moussa.