September 01, 2010

Annual Report from King County Ombudsman Shows Increasing Demand for Services

The Ombudsman's Office in King County, WA is a Classical Ombuds program. It manages citizen complaints concerning county agencies, including allegations regarding violations of the Employee Code of Ethics, and reports of improper governmental action and retaliation filed under the Whistleblower Protection Act. According to its annual report, the office handled nearly 3,000 inquiries from the public and county employees in 2009, a 215% increase from 2003.

The handsome and accessible report reveals that only 2% of cases are resolved through investigation--the traditional tool that distinguishes Classical from Organizational Ombuds. The vast majority of the King County Ombudsman's resolutions are achieved by methods also employed by Organizational Ombuds: information (encouraging and enabling individuals to resolve problems on their own); and direct assistance (resolving the issue through inquiry, research and facilitation). The report includes a flow chart that explains how the office organizes constituent inquiries and determines which process is appropriate. (King County Ombudsman 2009 Annual Report.)

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