February 26, 2013

Coalition of Federal Ombuds Completes Minutes for 2012

CoFO has posted minutes from its meetings in September, November, and December 2012.  (The annual conference planned for October was cancelled due to Hurricaine Sandy.)  These minutes summarize discussions on many practice issues and provide insights into the operation of several Federal Ombuds programs.

Practice Pointers
  • Visitor Follow-Up ─ How many times do you follow up with someone if they don’t contact you back? Does the way they reached you initially have any relevance? Do the circumstances matter?
  • Leaving Voicemails ─ We serve as a confidential resource, so what do you leave on voicemails, if anything? What if the voicemail has no identifying information?
  • Scope of Service ─ What do you do when people want to discuss topics outside of your jurisdiction? What if they do not wish to be referred elsewhere, but instead want to talk with you?
  • Hybrid Offices ─ What are the benefits and challenges to having an internal and external ombuds function in the same office?
  • Protection of Whistleblowers ─An overview of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012
  • Ombuds Privilege ─ What ombuds privilege exists to protect communications? Is there any COFO work in this area? How much confidentiality is protected?
  • Right-Sizing ─ What factors do you use to determine the size of your office? How can you formulate a request for more personnel?
  • Feedback on Reports ─ Who reviews your reports and how do you decide what feedback to incorporate?
  • Record Keeping ─ As federal ombuds, how do you know what official documents you need to file? Records schedule, Systems of Records notice, etc.?
Overview of Ombuds Programs
  • Federal Housing Finance Agency ─ Michael Powers
  • Ombudsman at the National Credit Union Administration ─ Tonya Sweat
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation ─ Monique Bookstein
CoFO generally holds monthly meetings.  (CoFO Minutes.)

Related posts: CoFO Continues Work on Thorny Issues Facing Government Ombuds; COFO Collaborating With Federal Agencies Creating New Ombuds Programs; Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen Sets Tenth Annual Conference; Coalition of Federal Ombuds Welcomes New DOE Ombuds.

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