Date: 04/22/2013 Description: Office of the Ombudsman logo; olive branch image - State Dept Image What is the Office of the Ombudsman?

The Office of the Ombudsman assists employees of the Department of State manage workplace conflicts and help to identify mutually satisfactory solutions. The Department of State is a complex and far flung organization with over many employees spread over 200 countries, 178 embassies, 86 consulates and 9 missions. We state routinely that people are our most important asset; however there are times for nearly all of us when we need assistance or relief to solve difficulties in our work lives. When these problems defy easy categorization as potential HR grievances, EEO complaints, Union grievances, or IG investigations, that is precisely when you should call on the Ombudsman.

The Office provides a variety of services to Department employees, bureaus, and offices including coaching and mediation. Their services are independent, neutral, confidential, and informal whereby employees can consensually resolve workplace disputes and reach a fair and quick solution to workplace conflicts. We are committed to fostering a workplace culture that proactively manages conflict and benefits from innovative and creative resolutions.

The Ombudsman advises the Secretary and senior management on non-union, systemic issues affecting our workforce. The Ombuds experience and observation may result in policy recommendations, while feedback may uncover unintended, previously overlooked negative consequences as a result of procedures and practice. The Ombudsman may address a variety of issues—obtain information regarding agency policy, delete red tape, uncover evidence of prohibited personnel practices and workplace safety issues. Through all of this, the goal is to facilitate and support a fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory workplace that ensures the essential well-being of the workforce especially in matters where problems are likely to be overlooked.

Principles

Independence: The Ombudsman is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization.

Neutrality and Impartiality: The Ombudsman, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombudsman does not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest.

Confidentiality: The Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance in strict confidence, and does not disclose confidential communications unless given permission to do so. The only exception to this privilege of confidentiality is where there appears to be imminent risk of serious harm.

Informality: The Ombudsman, as an informal resource, does not participate in any formal adjudicative or administrative procedure related to concerns brought to his/her attention.



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