This month saw the debut of a curious website for the U.S. Office of the Independent Ombudsman. According to the site, "The OIO comprises of a trusted team of advocates and business advisors providing the highest degree of professional service in resolving complaints, disputes and procedural issues." It offers the following services: Hotline; Research & Investigations; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Mediations; Compliance Issues; and Advocacy. It claims to be a member of USOA, TOA, and IOA. In addition it claims as members many state and local government agencies (including the Texas Youth Commission, Austin ISD, and the University of Texas at Austin), federal government agencies (including the VA, TSA, DOD, and EPA), and corporate entities (PBS/NPR, BP America, IBM, Microsoft, and Neiman Marcus). (USOIO Home.) None of these memberships or members could be confirmed. Moreover, the telephone number provided is not in service.
Other evidence casts doubt on the legitimacy of OIO. Its logo is the coat of arms for Poland. Although located in Texas, the entity is not registered with the Texas Secretary of State. OIO's website says that it is "a division of Mansour Mubaarak & Hogue LLP," a Houston research, management consulting and advocacy firm. Mansour Mubaarak has the same phone number and is the registered owner of the OIO web domain. In addition, Mansour Mubaarak is "an affiliate of Da Vinci & Lombardi SA," a merchant banking and consulting firm with offices in Paris, New York and Houston. (Mansour Mubaarak & Hogue; Da Vinci & Lombardi; Whois Results; Wikipedia - Poland Coat of Arms.)
So, what the heck is the U.S. Office of the Independent Ombudsman? The best explanation may be that it's just a front company. But why? (See Wikipedia - Front Organization; Boing Boing - Donna Blue Aircraft.)