How to Select or Hire an Ombuds

Which Type of Ombuds Do I Need and How Do I Contact One?

If you are currently looking to speak to or hire an ombuds this page can help.

Please note that IOA is a member-based professional organization for ombuds. Our mission is to advance the profession of organizational ombuds and ensure that practitioners are able to work to the highest professional standards. Our office does not have ombuds on staff and we are not able to directly refer you to an ombuds. However, this page can help you learn more about how to hire or contract with an ombuds.


Which scenario best fits your situation?


Tips & Tools for Organizations Looking to Hire an Ombuds

Congratulations on making the decision to incorporate ombuds services in your organization. Here are some helpful resources for you to get started.


Tips & Tools for Individuals Seeking Ombuds Services

We are sorry to hear you are facing an issue or a conflict. Please note that IOA is a member-based professional organization. We do not have ombuds on staff who can help members of the public solve an issue or conflict. IOA members are welcome to contact the IOA Ombuds

How to Find an Ombuds:

  • The first step in looking for an ombuds is to find out which type of ombuds is appropriate for your situation. View this list of ombuds types for more information.
  • If you are looking for an organizational ombuds, we recommend reaching out to the organization you are dealing with to see if they have an ombuds and ask for the contact information. If they do not, you may consider asking what other dispute resolution resources the organization may provide.
  • For additional resources, you can review this list of related ombuds organizations to see if they can connect you with an ombuds.
  • Still in need of more information?

Types of Ombuds

Organizational Ombuds
An organizational ombuds is an individual who serves as a designated neutral within a specific organization and provides conflict resolution and problem-solving services to members of the organization (internal ombuds) and/or for clients or customers of the organization (external ombuds). There are organizational ombuds in all sectors (corporate, academic, governmental, non-governmental, non-profit, etc.). Some may serve both internal and external constituencies.

An organizational ombuds provides confidential, informal, independent and impartial assistance to individuals through dispute resolution and problem-solving methods such as conflict coaching, mediation, facilitation, and shuttle diplomacy. The organizational ombuds responds to concerns and disputes brought forward by visitors to the office and may convey trends, systemic problems, and organizational issues to high-level leaders and executives in a confidential manner. Ombuds do not advocate for individuals, groups, or entities, but rather for the principles of fairness and equity. The organizational ombuds does not play a role in formal processes, investigate problems brought to the office’s attention, or represent any side in a dispute.

Check with your organization to see if they have an ombuds on staff.

Classical Ombuds
These ombuds receive and investigate complaints and concerns regarding governmental policies and processes. The authority and mandate of classical ombuds are typically provided by statutory language. These ombuds may be elected by constituents or appointed by a legislature or organization to monitor citizens’ treatment under the law. Classical ombuds generally have authority to conduct investigations and make recommendations for appropriate redress or policy change.

Do an internet search to see if your state, city, municipality, or country has an ombuds.

Advocate Ombuds
An advocate ombuds may be located in either the public or private sector. They evaluate claims objectively but are authorized or required to advocate on behalf of individuals or groups found to be aggrieved. Advocate ombuds are often found in organizations such as long-term care facilities or agencies, and organizations that work with juvenile offenders.

Try to do an internet search for advocate ombuds and your specific need.

Hybrid Ombuds
Hybrid ombuds are usually established by policy or terms of reference by both private and public sector organizations. They primarily use informal methods to resolve complaints but also have the power to investigate and the authority to publish annual and special reports.

Executive Ombuds
An executive ombuds may be located in either the public or private sector and receives complaints concerning actions and failures to act of the organization, its officials, employees, and contractors. An executive ombuds may either work to hold the organization or one of its programs accountable or work with the organization’s officials to improve the performance of a program.

Legislative Ombuds
A legislative ombuds is a part of the legislative branch of a government entity and addresses issues raised by the general public or internally, usually concerning the actions or policies of government entities, individuals, or contractors with respect to holding agencies accountable to the public.

Media Ombuds
The media, or news, ombuds’ primary objective is to promote transparency within their organization. They can receive and investigate complaints about news reporting on behalf of members of the public and then recommend the most suitable course of action to resolve issues raised. The news ombuds is an independent officer acting in the best interests of news consumers. They explain the roles and obligations of journalism to the public and act as a mediator between the expectations of the public and the responsibilities of journalists. (For more information, see http://newsombudsmen.org/.)