The Office of the Ombudsman (OMB)

Integrity and Conflict Management System (ICMS)
Helping to maintain integrity and resolve conflict in PAHO


What is the mission of the Office of the Ombudsman?

The mission of the Office of the Ombudsman is to provide assistance to employees in the management and resolution of conflicts, problems, and challenges related to the workplace in a safe and confidential setting.

Four pillars support the Ombudsman's work - Confidentiality, Neutrality, Independence and Informality. This office is an advocate for important institutional values and principles (justice, civility, respect, integrity) and for fair processes. The Office of the Ombudsman is guided by specific Terms of Reference and PAHO's Staff Rules and Regulations.

Who does the Ombudsman report to?

The Ombudsman is appointed by the Director, upon recommendation of the senior staff selection committee, which includes participation of the Staff Association. The Office of the Ombudsman is functionally independent of any other part of the Organization and reports to the Deputy Director for administrative purposes only.

What is the level of authority of the Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman has direct access to the Director as well as all records concerning personnel (except medical).

The Ombudsman acts in an informal manner (off the record) in order to resolve issues. The Ombudsman does not dictate rules or make decisions on behalf of the Organization and does not participate in formal processes.

Neutrality is a cornerstone of the Office; by listening carefully and acting as a sounding board, the Ombudsman helps identify issues and explore options, facilitates discussions, develops strategies and mediates when possible. The Office of the Ombudsman may refer visitors to other resources inside or outside PAHO, such as a lawyer or counselor, the Ethics Office, Staff Association, Human Resources, Staff Assistance Service, Grievance Panel or Board of Appeal.

Through publication of an annual report and other opportunities, the Ombudsman identifies recurring issues, reports on trends and patterns observed over time, and makes recommendations that may lead to changes in policies, rules, regulations and practices.

What is the level of confidentiality of the Office of the Ombudsman?

Confidentiality is guaranteed to all visitors to the Office of the Ombudsman. The single exception is when there is "imminent risk of serious harm." The Ombudsman will not share any information or otherwise identify a visitor without that person's knowledge and permission. The Office keeps no records on behalf of the Organization.

Who can use the services of the Office of the Ombudsman?

Anyone who works for PAHO at a PAHO workplace, regardless of the type or duration of appointment, is entitled to the assistance of the Ombudsman at any time. Contacting the Office of the Ombudsman is entirely voluntary.

When should you contact the Office of the Ombudsman?

As soon as possible whenever you need help with an issue or concern at work, such as:

  • If you have a problem at work, are not sure where to turn, and wish to discuss the matter in an informal atmosphere with the assurance of confidentiality.
  • If you need information about a rule, regulation or policy at PAHO; feel that you have been treated unfairly; or that a rule, regulation or policy is being inconsistently or incorrectly applied.
  • If you are having a difficult time with a colleague or supervisor.
  • If you are not sure where to go or whom to approach but would like to talk to someone.

How can the Ombudsman be contacted?

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