Tom A. Kosakowski's Blog (135)

European Network of Ombudsmen in Higher Education Sets 2013 Conference; Seeks Papers

ENOHE will hold its 10th annual conference at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, on April 11-13, 2013. The meeting will be hosted the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education in England and Wales and will examine the implications of a more consumer-focused environment for University Ombudsmen.  The cost is £450 for bookings before December 31, 2012 (£500 thereafter) and includes:

  • The Conference from lunchtime on Thursday, April 11 to lunchtime on…
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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on September 14, 2012 at 1:48pm — No Comments

Updated Sexual Misconduct Policy at University of North Carolina Reaffirms Confidentiality of Organizational Ombuds Program

As ADR practitioners, Organizational Ombuds generally follow practices that would be familiar to other neutrals, especially mediators.  However, as employees of the organizations which they serve, Ombuds must be careful not to be seen as agents for notice.  As laws and regulations change, organizations must ensure that their Ombuds program remains relevant, but not a liability.  A recent example of this is seen at the University of North Carolina.

Timed to coincide with the start of…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on September 5, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

ABA Creates Task Force to Consider Internal Dispute Resolution Program

The American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution has created an Ombuds Task Force "to explore the feasibility of offering ombuds services as an ABA Member Benefit." Bennett Feigenbaum and Peter Scarpato have been appointed to co-chair the group, but other members have not been identified.  One of their first tasks will be developing a mission statement and an action…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on August 17, 2012 at 6:09pm — 2 Comments

International Ombudsman Association Issues Call for Conference Proposals

The professional association for Organizational Ombuds is seeking speaker presentation proposals and topic suggestions for the IOA 8th Annual Conference taking place April 21-24, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Miami in Miami, FL.

Each year, IOA hosts an annual conference to promote the Ombuds profession, provide relevant educational content and offer enriching networking…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on August 17, 2012 at 6:07pm — No Comments

American Bar Association Seeks Proposals for 2013 ADR Conference

The ABA's 15th Annual Section of Dispute Resolution Spring Conference is set for April 3-6, 2013 in Chicago, IL.  Billed as the country's largest dispute resolution event, the conference draws from varied and diverse groups including national and international ADR practitioners and organizations, corporate leaders, government employees, judges, court administrators, and academics.

Organizers are seeking proposals for presentations for concurrent CLE sessions, sessions at the Symposium…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on July 13, 2012 at 1:41pm — 2 Comments

Ombuds Programs are Growing Trend for Indian Corporations

A recent article in the India Times indicates that a growing number of Indian corporations are using Ombuds programs to handle internal and external grievances informally. In the past six months, HUL (Hindustan Unilever Ltd.), Ranbaxy Laboratories, SKS Microfinance Ltd., and Wipro Ltd. have created Ombuds offices. "It's not just about spelling out a whistleblower policy, but also about having a system that enables all stakeholders to raise concerns about wrongdoings fearlessly and have the…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on July 13, 2012 at 1:36pm — No Comments

UC Merced Appoints First Campus Ombuds

The newest University of California campus has announced the appointment of Deidre “De” Acker as its first Campus Ombudsperson, effective July 16, 2012. Chancellor Dorothy Leland made the announcement earlier this week. Leland said that the new Ombuds “will actively engage students, faculty, staff and university constituents in dialog, negotiation and problem-solving to ensure that members of our campus community receive fair and equitable treatment.”

Acker has served as assistant…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on June 27, 2012 at 11:00am — No Comments

Havard Law Case Study Focuses on Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies and Role of Ombuds

A recent Harvard Law Case Study features a scenario that will resonate with university ADR experts and practitioners.  In the case study, a University Ombuds is involved in an effort to update a sexual harassment policy.  Here's the summary:

Langdell University, in the state of Ames, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country. Since the late 1970’s Langdell University has had a single sexual harassment procedure for all of its undergraduate,…
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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on June 15, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Global Oilfield Services Leader Will Create Employee Ombuds Program

Baker Hughes, the S&P 100 oilfield services company based in Houston, will create an Organizational Ombuds Office to serve its employees throughout the U.S., Canada, and Trinidad/Tobago. The primary job duty of the new positions is to, "Offer exceptional organizational ombuds services in accordance with the International Ombudsman Association's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, o3 [Organizational Ombuds Office] Charter, o3 Policy and o3 Handbook."

Baker Hughes has opened…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on April 30, 2012 at 11:54am — No Comments

Federal Emergency Management Agency Expands Workplace ADR Program with Addition of Ombuds

Continuing its commitment to internal ADR processes, FEMA has created a Reservist Ombudsman Office to serve the agency’s intermittent, disaster workforce. The FEMA Reservist Ombuds is a new function located within the ADR Division of the Office of Chief Counsel. The Ombuds will complement the existing work of FEMA's ADR Advisors by serving as an upward feedback channel for issues and concerns related to FEMA policies, and practices raised by Reservists.  FEMA employs about ADR Advisors, who…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on April 23, 2012 at 10:44am — No Comments

Journal of International Ombudsman Association Publishes Volume on Informality

In its latest issue, the peer-reviewed journal of the International Ombudsman Association takes up one of the central ethical standards for Organizational Ombuds: Informality.  Journal Editor David Miller explains,

In my experience as an Organizational Ombudsman, Informality is the hardest [Standard of Practice] to grasp operationally, unless it is explicated as a contrast with related professions, or in terms of our non-engagement with formal processes. But, of course,…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on April 11, 2012 at 11:30am — No Comments

Ombuds Program Informally Resolves 90% of Grad Student Grievances at University of Maryland

An article in the UM student newspaper reports that a three-year old grievance procedure for graduate students is rarely used. The procedure was implemented in 2009 for graduate students who felt abused by their supervisors. Despite the extensive work that went into creating the remedy, the vast majority of aggrieved graduate students chose instead to use informal mechanisms offered by the campus Ombuds office.

Ombuds Officer for Graduate Students Barbara Finkelstein said only about…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on March 12, 2012 at 10:38am — No Comments

U.S. Ombudsman Association Announces 2012 Conference and Calls for Speakers

The association for Public Sector Ombudsmen will hold its 33rd annual conference in Spokane, Washington on October 10-12, 2012.*  The conference will be hosted by Tim Burns, City of Spokane Police Ombudsman, and the keynote address offered by Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate. The event will be preceded by two days of training on October 8-9.  USOA’s Conference and Planning Committee is seeking speakers interested in sharing their subject matter expertise relevant to the Public…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on March 5, 2012 at 3:30pm — No Comments

International Ombudsman Association Posts Agenda for 2012 Annual Conference

Registration is now open for the Seventh Annual Conference of the International Ombudsman Association on April 13–18, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, Texas. Special pricing is being offered for attendees who also register for Ombuds 101. Priority registration closes on March 23. IOA has also posted an expected agenda for the conference.…



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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on January 26, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

The Ombuds Year in Review: 2011

Overall, the past year has been a positive one for Organizational Ombuds profession. Here are the top stories of 2011.…
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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on December 22, 2011 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Opens Ombuds Office

The new federal agency that holds primary responsibility for regulating consumer protection in the U.S. has created an Ombudsman's Office to assist in the resolution of individual and systemic issues for depository and non-depository entities, and consumers. 

The office is characterized by independence, impartiality and…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on December 15, 2011 at 11:30am — No Comments

Journal of the International Ombudsman Association Examines Confidentiality Issues

The latest issue of the peer-reviewed jounal for organizational ombuds looks at the fundamental ethical duty of confidentiality.  JIOA Editor David Miller says, “the provision of a safe place in which options for action and response can safely be heard, away from the clamour of police sirens and media-fuelled public approbation, can help to protect the individual and public interest by ensuring that matters have a greater likelihood of…
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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on December 12, 2011 at 6:17pm — No Comments

Michigan County Court Launches Pilot Ombuds Program for Bench and Bar

The Oakland County Circuit Court has appointed an Ombudsman to serve as a liaison between the judiciary and local attorneys for a six month trial period. Joel H. Serlin, an attorney with "a stellar reputation as a lawyer, mediator and arbitrator" will serve as the Ombuds. He will seek to address and facilitate issues and concerns raised by attorneys regarding active matters before the court.

The proposal for an Ombuds program originated about a year ago and found wide support from…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on November 21, 2011 at 7:30am — No Comments

International Ombudsman Association Offers Webinar Series on Workplace Bullying

IOA has announced its first-ever webinar series. The four-part program will focus on bullying in the workplace and builds on a recent edition of the Journal of IOA that focused on the topic of bullying. Expert speakers come from several disciplines and organizations, and each of the programs qualify for Certified Organizational Ombudsman Practitioner continuing education hours.…

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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on November 3, 2011 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Court Approves Settlement Creating Ombuds Program for Pfizer Employees

In December 2010, the world's largest pharmaceutical company agreed to settle a shareholder lawsuit arising out of allegation of the illegal marketing of at least 13 of Pfizer's most important drugs. In addition to governance changes in financial considerations, the proposed settlement also provides for, "the establishment of an Ombudsman Program as an…
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Added by Tom A. Kosakowski on October 31, 2011 at 2:30pm — No Comments

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