December 19, 2012

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2012 (Nos. 1-3)

The top three news items about Organizational Ombuds stories 2012 are...

[drumroll, please]

3.  IOA Compensation Survey Showed Ombuds Earnings Stagnated -- Three years after its last survey of the profession, IOA found that most Ombuds salaries have been growing slowly.  Pay in the academic sector in 2010 increased by 0.6% to 1%, while government Ombuds saw an increase of 1.6% or less.  Corporate Ombuds were a bright spot: compensation in that sector rose 3.5%, far outpacing inflation for the year.  The IOA survey also collected a range of data about Ombuds' practices not previously quantified.

2.  Baker Hughes Creates an Ombuds Program for 24,000 Employees -- In September, the Fortune 200, oilfield services company headquartered in North Houston, Texas opened an IOA-compliant Ombuds Office (“o3”) that will serve its employees in North America. (The progam will be extended to about 5,000 Canadian emplyoees in 2014.) It is extremely rare, unfortunately, that prominent multinational, public corporations spontaneously create robust Ombuds programs.  For this reason, the Baker Hughes program is significant and commendable.

1.  ACCUO Adopts Standards of Practice
-- In June, the Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons finally endorsed its first Standards of Practice.  Although the Standards are intended to serve as a guide for Canadian post-secondary Ombuds offices, they are an important reference for all Organizational Ombuds.  Indeed, the ACCUO Standards are one of only two statements of principles published by professional Ombuds association.  (IOA's being the other.)  It is also significant that ACCUO's Standards are remarkably different than IOA's.  ACCUO's Standards comprise four tenets: Independence; Impartiality; Confidentiality; and Accessibility. The Standards also identify five functions and responsibilities of Organizational Ombuds: Information and Advice; Intervention (conflict resolution and investigation); Recommendations; Reporting; and Integrity of Service. The announcement from ACCUO was inexplicably muted, yet this new perspective on the duties and role of Ombuds deserves much more attention and discussion.

Please take a moment to comment and respond to the survey, which will be open through the end of the year.  Thanks for your feedback.

Related posts: The Ombuds Decade in Review; The Ombuds Year in Review: 2010The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part I); The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part II)The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011 (Part III); The Ombuds Year in Review: 2012 (Nos. 8-10); The Ombuds Year in Review: 2012 (Nos. 4-7).


  1. I quibble with #3 (the data is old and incomplete); but the rest of the list is solid. I think the choice of #1 is spot on! Somehow I missed that announcement from ACCUO, but it is important. Thanks for your editorial comments. I'd personally like to see more opinions from you.
    -Angry Ombuds

  2. Dear Tom,
    Thank you for this terrific service that you provide for the Ombuds community. I rely on The Ombuds Blog for information about our professional community.
    I applaud ACCUO for their definition of Standards of Practice and Functions of an Ombuds. After 15 years of practice as an Ombuds, I am in favor of a dialogue about our functions, granted that one must use such functional roles with wisdom.
    With warm wishes for a brilliant New Year!
    Anu Rao

  3. Thanks for this recap of the year. The list reminds me of the many positive developments. One thing I would have added is the IOA Board's candor and transparency at the Houston conference. This was much appreciated by the attendees.

  4. Poll results:

    ACCUO's Standards of Practice 8 (80%)
    New Ombuds at Baker Hughes 5 (50%)
    IOA Compensation Survey 3 (30%)
    Tough Year for AUC Ombuds 0 (0%)
    Regional Meetings 5 (50%)
    Penn State Echoes 3 (30%)
    More Ombuds in India 0 (0%)
    ERC on Sentencing Guidelines 0 (0%)
    No Ombuds for UK Universities 1 (10%)
    Many New Offices, Few Closures 4 (40%)
    Paula Broadwell an Ombuds 0 (0%)
    Retirements 0 (0%)
    Something Else (add comment) 1 (10%)