Human Capital: The Role of the Ombudsmen in Dispute Resolution

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies have created ombudsmen offices to expedite the resolution of employees' complaints about workplace issues. An ombudsman provides an informal alternative to more formal administrative processes in the workplace, using various techniques and often working "outside the box" to deal with conflicts and other organizational disputes. GAO found that the number of ombudsman offices handling workplace issues in federal agencies is small but is expected to grow. These offices deal with a wide range of workplace issues, from helping employees get answers to questions about ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. April 13, 2001.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies have created ombudsmen offices to expedite the resolution of employees' complaints about workplace issues. An ombudsman provides an informal alternative to more formal administrative processes in the workplace, using various techniques and often working "outside the box" to deal with conflicts and other organizational disputes. GAO found that the number of ombudsman offices handling workplace issues in federal agencies is small but is expected to grow. These offices deal with a wide range of workplace issues, from helping employees get answers to questions about agency policies and cutting through "red tape" to more serious situations, such as allegations about employment discrimination. In studying the ombudsmen offices at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), and the U.S. Secret Service, GAO found some common approaches as well as some differences in their operations. Common to all three offices was their broad responsibility and authority to deal with almost any workplace issue, their ability to bring systemic issues to management's attention, and the way in which they worked with other agency offices in providing assistance to employees. But how they were structured to carry out this authority varied. In addition, no federal standards directly apply to the operation of ombudsmen offices, although all three offices adhere to standards of practice established by professional organizations. The recommended standards of professional organizations state that ombudsmen should be accountable for their activities. However, federal agencies do little to evaluate their ombuds programs. Officials at all three agencies generally viewed the ombudsmen program as beneficial. Despite the lack of formal federal guidance on the standards of practices for the federal ombuds community, several forums exist in which ombudsmen can share information informally about best practices and lessons learned."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • April 13, 2001

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Human Capital: The Role of the Ombudsmen in Dispute Resolution, report, April 13, 2001; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc290933/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.