December 30, 2014

The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2014, Nos. 1-3

The top three stories about Organizational Ombuds last year includes some lows and highs...

3. Activists Fail to Trigger Ombuds --  New Ombuds programs were suggested for two very different beleaguered organizations.  Early in the year, Ralph Nader repeatedly urged General Motors to implement an Ombuds program to remedy a "culture of avoidance or coverup" that lead to the recall of 28 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches.  In the fall, most of the faculty at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church demanded an Ombuds as one of the remedies for an alleging pattern of harassment and bullying behavior by the school's dean.  Unfortunately, neither General Motors nor the General Theological Seminary conceded to these demands.
2. Sen. Harkin Embarrasses Title IX Expert -- During a Senate committee hearing in July, Senator Tom Harkin's questioning of  Catherine Lhamon, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, revealed a surprising knowledge about Ombuds on his part, and a disappointing lack of knowledge on her part.  For those that follow Ombuds issues and politics, this was exciting.

1. IOA Takes a Stand on Title IX -- In response to concerns regarding the confidentiality of communications about sexual misconduct in higher education, the IOA Board requested the Department of Education clarify its regulations to protect Ombuds. In a comment to a proposed rule, IOA  requested that the final regulations permit colleges and universities to designate Ombuds as a “confidential resource,” rather than as a “responsible employee” or “campus security authority” which are required to report instances of sexual misconduct. This is only the second time that IOA formally provided input to a U.S. federal agency.
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); The Ombuds Year in Review: 2012 (Nos. 1-3); The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2013 -- Part One; The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2013 -- Part Two; The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2013 -- Part Three; The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2014, Nos. 7-10;
The Ombuds Blog Top Ten Stories of 2014, Nos. 4-6.


  1. I sincerely appreciate this annual list, but there are too few stories about Ombuds in the government, private, and not-for-profit sectors.
    -The Angry Ombuds

    1. Are there any stories you would have included?

    2. Well, how about...
      - Olympic Ombuds Succession Questions
      - Pfizer Expanding Ombuds Service in China
      - Secret Service Director Want Ombuds to Help Reform Efforts
      - National Bank of Canada Adopts IOA Standards
      - Unprecedented Attrition From IOA Board
      - REALTOR Poised to Adopt Ombuds
      - Ombuds of Texas Goes Dormant

      -The Angry Ombuds

  2. Angry -
    Appreciate your list.
    The primary issue as to the lack of ombuds stories, in my opinion, is this:
    Ombuds people talk to themselves and not those who can make more programs which would lead to more stories.
    The examples are too numerous to list, but the simple fact is this - too few people who matter know what organizational ombuds programs are and can do.
    Until such time as the field chooses to take an active promotional approach - getting away from "do it yourself" program building to more rigorous and demanding standards for program creation and measurement - the creation of new programs and expansion of the field will fall to those few who do out reach every single day trying to create new programs.

    May 2015 be a very different year.

    All the best to all in 2015-

    John W. Zinsser
    Principal and Co-founder Pacifica Human Communications, LLC.
    Ombuds Lecturer - Columbia University Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Master's Program