September 14, 2009

“Fairness Review” and Ombuds

In the summer edition of ACResolutions magazine, David McNabb, Deputy Ombudsman with RBC Royal Bank and chair of the ACR Ombuds Section, offers an overview of the current state of the Ombuds profession. He points out that Ombuds are distinguishable from other conflict resolvers by their unique work of “fairness review.”
An Ombudsman fairness review respects legal compliance and due process without deciding the law, yet offers something more. An Ombudsman engages parties—individuals and host institutions—in a post review of accountabilities and best practices. An Ombudsman imagines and rehearses success and best practices in transactions and relationships between host institutions and individuals, while tracking and making notes of possible administrative failures, gaps, errors and omissions, particularly in communication. In this way, an Ombudsman can be a catalyst for integrity, accountability and good citizenship, norming failures in administration and contradictions in democracy, resulting in a virtuous cycle of individual and institutional confidence.

McNabb argues that Ombuds are positioned to mitigate the human factors that gave rise to the current financial and economic crises. (Ombudsman in the 21st Century: A Model for Public Currency in Private Discretion.)

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