What are the Ombudsman's Values and Principles?
The Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) Ombudsman incorporates generally accepted Ombudsman values and ethics and the Principles found in its December 11, 2009, Charter into every aspect of its problem resolution program.
Neutrality: A critical strength for Ombudsmen resides in the value of neutrality and impartiality. Ombudsmen advocate for fair process, without taking sides. This focuses the Ombudsman's review not on "who is right," but rather, on "what is the right thing to do" both for individuals and the organization. Ombudsmen cannot force solutions or change the law. The Ombudsman will remain neutral in any matter within the Ombudsman's purview and shall avoid taking, or appearing to take, sides in any dispute, conflict or disagreement.
Independence: Independence enables neutrality. The Ombudsman is functionally and organizationally distinct from business lines, reporting directly to top management. Through independence, conflicts of interest are avoided and systemic issues can be reported directly to top management. The Ombudsman in carrying out his/her duties, reports to the Director, Executive Secretariat and Ombudsman, who reports to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management. Therefore, the Ombudsman remains free from any control or interference of any OPM employee.
Informality: Ombudsmen review inquiries and issues informally. They do not conduct formal investigations, nor do they have decision-making power. Federal Ombudsmen function as informal fact-finders when assisting individuals to resolve issues, and when determining if processes and procedures have been followed as intended.
Communication: Encourage open and effective communications between and among all OPM managers and employees, and our customers to discuss and resolve issues affecting OPM.
When process or procedural problems are identified through informal fact-finding, the Ombudsman documents the problems, informs the business process owner and recommends improvements, as appropriate. Benefits are that multiple trends and systemic issues can be reported rapidly, and informal Ombudsman reviews are quicker and cost less than formal processes.
Confidentiality: Maintain the confidentiality of dispute resolution communications made by employees, including managers and supervisors, unless the party making the disclosure consents to disclosure or as required by law that there are no indications that:
- The law has been or will be broken; or
- There is a threat of imminent harm to people or property.
Benefit is derived when customers who would not necessarily come forward are enabled to speak candidly when they know that confidentiality is assured.
Professionalism: Ombudsmen uphold the principle of professionalism, including adherence to the strictest federal ethics and responsibility.