February 22, 2024

COFO Updates Governance Structures

This week, the Coalition of Federal Ombudsman dramatically revised its governing documents, which included an updated name. A redrafted Charter serves as the primary governing document of the organization and, for the first time, creates an Executive Committee Charter to more clearly delineate leadership roles and responsibilities in the coalition. As part of the update, COFO also changed its name to “Coalition of Federal Ombuds.”

The changes and are the result of over two years of collaborative work, thought, and comment by COFO members. Other changes instituted in the new governing documents include:
  • Incorporation of the essential standards (independence, impartiality, and confidentiality) and common characteristics (fairness, credible process, and informality) from ACUS Recommendation 2016-5, “The Use of Ombuds in Federal Agencies”, into the COFO practice values
  • Clarification that part-time federal ombuds may be voting members if otherwise practicing to standards
  • Clarification that Executive Committee members must be voting members
  • Expression of preference for voting members to chair committees, with non-voting members able to do so with Exec Committee approval when “in the best interest of the Coalition, [but only] under exceptional circumstances”
  • Clarification of voting and election processes
  • Listing of suggested committees
COFO also elected a new Executive Committee, to lead the coalition from March 2024 through February 2026:
  • Chair: Paul Sotoudeh, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Vice Chairs: Andrea Brown, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Guy Weber, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Secretaries: Marcus Stergio, Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; Chris Vermillion, U.S. Census Bureau
  • Coordinator: Heather Milner, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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