Model Ombudsman Act

The United States Ombudsman Association Model Ombudsman Act for State Governments was approved approved on February 11, 1997 by the United States Ombudsman Association’s Board of Directors.

Editor’s Note: The February 1997 document was reformatted in April 2004. No substantive changes were made to the language of the original document.

Principles of Effective Ombudsman Legislation

In its effort to promote and encourage the establishment of ombudsman offices, the USOA specifically promotes and encourages the establishment of offices that manifest the following characteristics:

  • a governmental office created by constitution, charter, legislation or ordinance
  • an office with the responsibility to receive and investigate complaints against governmental agencies
  • an office with freedom to investigate on its own motion
  • an office which may exercise full powers of investigation, to include access to all necessary information both testimonial and documentary
  • an office with the authority to criticize governmental agencies and officials within its jurisdiction and to recommend corrective action
  • an office with the power to issue public reports concerning its findings and recommendations
  • an office directed by an official of high stature who
    • is guaranteed independence through a defined term of office and/or through appointment by other than the executive and/or through custom
    • is restricted from activities constituting a personal, professional, occupational or political conflict of interest
    • is free to employ and remove assistants and to delegate administrative and investigative responsibility to those assistants.