What is an Organizational Ombuds?
"The Organizational Ombudsman"
by Charles L. Howard
The USF System Ombuds is an "Organizational Ombuds". An Organizational Ombuds is an individual who serves as a designated neutral within a specific organization and provides conflict resolution and problem-solving services to members of the organization (internal ombudsman) and/or for clients or customers of the organization (external ombudsman). There are Organizational Ombuds in all sectors (corporate, academic, governmental, non-governmental, and non-profit). Some may serve both internal and external constituencies.
An Organizational Ombuds provides confidential, informal, independent and neutral assistance to individuals through dispute resolution and problem-solving methods such as conflict coaching, informal mediation, facilitation, and shuttle diplomacy. An Organizational Ombuds can also serve as a resource to help you identify ways in which you surface any concerns about possible misconduct. The Organizational Ombuds responds to concerns and disputes brought forward by visitors to the office and may report trends, systemic problems, and organizational issues to high-level leaders and executives in a confidential manner. He or she does not advocate for individuals, groups or entities, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity.
The Organizational Ombuds does not play a role (such as testifying or producing documents concerning confidential communications) in formal processes, formal investigations of problems brought to the office's attention, or represent any side in a dispute. The Organizational Ombuds is not a substitute for, anyone's lawyer, representative or counselor. Working with an Organizational Ombuds may help you address your problem or concern effectively, but it may not protect your legal rights. Where giving notice to USF is necessary to protect your legal rights, the Organizational Ombuds can refer you to the University's formal channels authorized to receive such notice.