June 09, 2017

Senator Wants U.S. Parks Ombuds to be More of a Resource for Sexual Harassment Matters

In response to growing complaints of sexual harassment and a lack of leadership on employee misconduct, the National Park Service implemented a range of reforms in 2016, including the creation of an Ombuds Office.  This week, Acting NPS Director gave an update to the Senate and received some credit for the new Ombuds program.  One senator, however, thought that the Ombuds' website was not explicit enough in offering services for employees with sexual harassment concerns. 

Here's a summary from the Federal News Radio:
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the ranking member of the subcommittee, told [Acting NPS Director Michael] Reynolds the ombuds’ site provided very general information and did not seem to highlight the problem at hand.
“This area, prevention is really important, but a part of that prevention is that people need to know when their rights are being infringed upon and that there are very clear steps that can be taken to report,” Hirono said. “As far as I can see [on the ombuds site] there’s nothing that leaps out at me that this particular problem of sexual harassment is something you are particularly interested in prevention. You have to go through a lot of it to figure out what you’re supposed to do.”
Reynolds said as this was the first year of the ombuds office, NPS was taking the approach of having it be a resource to answer a variety of employee concerns, but he would take Hirono’s observations and add them to a future strategy for the office.
Reynolds said the ombuds office, which opened in November 2016, received 1,000 comments [including complaints and recommendations] in four months.
The NPS Ombuds Office is headed by Scott Deyo and includes Segal Shoham.  (FNR.)

Related posts: National Park Service Said to be Considering OmbudsNational Park Service Appoints Experienced Ombuds to Open New Office.

See also: Related posts: IOA Takes a Stand on Title IX Issues; IOA Releases Memo Providing Legal Grounds for Ombuds Confidentiality in Title IX Matters; U.S. Department of Education Suggests University Ombuds Should Report Crime Statistics; IOA Pushes Back on Department of Education's Stance on Clery ActIOA Surveys Higher Education Ombuds Confidentiality for Clery Act & Title IX Matters

1 comment:

  1. Here is the testimony from the Acting Director, NPS:

    Ombuds Office

    To respond to employees’ immediate needs for support, we established a professional Ombuds
    Office in November 2016, which provides employees with a confidential, independent resource
    that allows them to discuss their work environments and get impartial advice. Ombuds programs
    are well known throughout the public and private sectors. The Ombuds are available to all
    employees by phone and email. Unfortunately, we were lacking this critical feedback component
    within the NPS.

    In just four months, the [Ombuds] received more than 1,000 comments, defined as complaints,
    concerns, or recommendations, from hundreds of NPS employees. The Ombuds team advises employees about the options available to them to report harassment or other complaints, including resources in the NPS Office of Equal Employment, Office of Employee Relations, and the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General. They also provide general updates to
    NPS senior leadership about the questions and concerns they heard, without sharing any specific
    employees’ identifying information. We will continue to support this office as an ongoing part of the NPS workforce improvement effort.

    Source: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=E66B9494-B725-4ECD-A20D-111111247315