NIH Employee Resources

Resources for Scientists

The Office of the Ombudsman is a confidential, neutral resource for NIH scientists, administrators, and employees providing informal assistance in addressing work-related issues, both in and out of the lab. We assist the scientific community at NIH in resolving conflicts related to collaboration, authorship, scientific disputes, and other aspects of team science, giving and receiving scientific criticism, and dealing with interpersonal conflicts. Through facilitation, coaching, group problem-solving, training, and other collaborative processes, we offer opportunities to individuals and groups to encourage better communication, promote early problem resolution, and foster teamwork in the lab. We can work with scientists to develop partnering agreements with colleagues. Our office also works with researchers across NIH who may function as scientific advisors when we work with conflicts involving scientific disagreements.

Our office provides assistance in many types of workplace conflicts, including difficult interpersonal situations, performance appraisals, harassment, and other types of workplace concerns. We will discuss various options with you and assist you in obtaining the information and resources needed to address your concerns. We offer informal, non-adversarial services designed to encourage better communication and promote early problem resolution in the workplace. Your communication with our office will be kept confidential, including the fact that you contacted our office.

Because of the nature of our work, employees are not required to reveal their visit to our office with anyone, including supervisors. We will not take action or employ conflict resolution practices without the approval of the person visiting our office. All of our services are offered on a voluntary basis; thus we cannot require anyone to engage even if a person might wish that a colleague or manager would participate in a conflict resolution process.

We also identify systemic conflicts, bringing to management’s attention those practices, norms, policies, and aspects of NIH culture that appear to exacerbate tensions and create problems for fellows, scientists, and administrative staff. By highlighting these systemic issues and providing suggestions for addressing them, ombudsmen help institutions take steps to improve the work environment across multiple layers of the organization.

Our staff members can also help clarify NIH policies and procedures and how they apply to you, as well as provide information on other NIH resources for employees, including the Employee Assistance Program, Employee Relations and Human Resources, the Office of Intramural Training and Education, Office of Intramural Research, and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management.


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