1.1 The Ombuds Office and the Ombuds
are independent from other organizational entities.
1.2 The Ombuds holds no other position within the organization which might
1.3 The Ombuds exercises sole discretion over whether or how to act regarding
individual’s concern, a trend or concerns of multiple individuals
over time. The Ombuds may also initiate action on a concern identified
through the Ombuds’ direct
1.4 The Ombuds has access to all information and all individuals in the
organization, as permitted by law.
1.5 The Ombuds has authority to select Ombuds Office staff and manage Ombuds
Office budget and operations.
Neutrality and Impartiality
2.1 The Ombuds is neutral, impartial, and unaligned.
2.2 The Ombuds strives for impartiality, fairness and objectivity in the
treatment of people and the consideration of issues. The Ombuds advocates
for fair and equitably administered
processes and does not advocate on behalf of any individual within the
2.3 The Ombuds is a designated neutral reporting to the highest possible
level of the
organization and operating independent of ordinary line and staff structures.
should not report to nor be structurally affiliated with any compliance
function of the
2.4 The Ombuds serves in no additional role within the organization which
compromise the Ombuds’ neutrality. The Ombuds should not be aligned
with any formal or
informal associations within the organization in a way that might create
actual or perceived
conflicts of interest for the Ombuds. The Ombuds should have no personal
interest or stake
in, and incur no gain or loss from, the outcome of an issue.
2.5 The Ombuds has a responsibility to consider the legitimate concerns
and interests of all
individuals affected by the matter under consideration.
2.6 The Ombuds helps develop a range of responsible options to resolve
facilitate discussion to identify the best options.
3.1 The Ombuds holds all communications with those seeking assistance in
strict confidence and takes all reasonable steps to safeguard confidentiality,
including the following: The Ombuds does not disclose confidential communications
unless given permission to
do so in the course of informal discussions with the Ombuds, and even then
at the sole
discretion of the Ombuds; the Ombuds does not reveal, and must not be required
the identity of any individual contacting the Ombuds Office, nor does the
information provided in confidence that could lead to the identification
of any individual
contacting the Ombuds Office, without that individual’s express permission;
takes specific action related to an individual’s issue only with the
permission and only to the extent permitted, unless such action can be
taken in a way that
safeguards the identity of the individual contacting the Ombuds Office.
The only exception
to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent
risk of serious harm,
and where there is no other reasonable option. Whether this risk exists
is a determination to
be made by the Ombuds.
3.2 Communications between the Ombuds and others (made while the Ombuds
is serving in
that capacity) are considered privileged. The privilege belongs to the
Ombuds and the
Ombuds Office, rather than to any party to an issue. Others cannot waive
3.3 The Ombuds does not testify in any formal process inside the organization
testifying in any formal process outside of the organization, even if given
requested to do so.
3.4 If the Ombuds pursues an issue systemically (e.g., provides feedback
on trends, issues,
policies and practices) the Ombuds does so in a way that safeguards the
3.5 The Ombuds keeps no records containing identifying information on behalf
3.6 The Ombuds maintains information (e.g., notes, phone messages, appointment
calendars) in a secure location and manner, protected from inspection by
management), and has a consistent and standard practice for the destruction
3.7 The Ombuds prepares any data and/or reports in a manner that protects
3.8 Communications made to the Ombuds are not notice to the organization.
neither acts as agent for, nor accepts notice on behalf of, the organization.
Ombuds may refer individuals to the appropriate place where formal notice
can be made.
Informality and Other Standards
4.1 The Ombuds functions on an informal basis by such means as: listening,
providing and receiving information, identifying and reframing issues,
developing a range of responsible
options, and – with permission and at Ombuds discretion – engaging
in informal third-party
intervention. When possible, the Ombuds helps people develop new ways to
4.2 The Ombuds as an informal and off-the-record resource pursues resolution
and looks into procedural irregularities and/or broader systemic problems
4.3 The Ombuds does not make binding decisions, mandate policies, or formally
issues for the organization.
4.4 The Ombuds supplements, but does not replace, any formal channels.
Use of the
Ombuds Office is voluntary, and is not a required step in any grievance
4.5 The Ombuds does not participate in any formal investigative or adjudicative
Formal investigations should be conducted by others. When a formal investigation
requested, the Ombuds refers individuals to the appropriate offices or
4.6 The Ombuds identifies trends, issues and concerns about policies and
including potential future issues and concerns, without breaching confidentiality
anonymity, and provides recommendations for responsibly addressing them.
4.7 The Ombuds acts in accordance with the IOA Code of Ethics and Standards
keeps professionally current by pursuing continuing education, and provides
for staff to pursue professional training.
4.8 The Ombuds endeavors to be worthy of the trust placed in the Ombuds