Last month, Iowa's Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman Jeanne Yordi revealed that her boss, Department on Aging Director John McCallum, had repeatedly dictated the Ombuds' position on legislative and policy issues.
One e-mail showed that McCalley told Yordi and her staff of local Ombuds that their public-policy positions would be determined by "the governor's office." In response to the allegations last month, Gov. Chet Culver moved to separate the LTC Ombuds office from the state's Department on Aging. Yesterday, McCallum announced his resignation. (Des Moines Register; Chicago Tribune.)
Independence is a fundamental attribute for Ombuds. In many cases Ombuds report to the department or organization they are charged with monitoring. So long as the Ombuds' independence is respected, these reporting relationships can work. However, when the relationship threatens the Ombuds' independence, the issue must be addressed. In this case, the response of the governor was appropriate.