Ombudsman - Definition
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An ombudsman is a government official who functions as an investigator for any complaints issued against firms, banks, financial institutions, public organizations, or government institutions, and focuses on offering feasible solutions for the related problems. Whether the decision taken by an ombudsman is legally binding or not, it will depend on the concerned authority. In case it is not, the decision will still have a significant weightage overall. After being appointed, an ombudsman gets paid through case fees and levies.
A Little More on What is an Ombudsman
Ombudsmen are appointed in several countries and institutions operating therein. Government appoints them on national or regional basis, and they can be seen working in big companies as well. They may either emphasize on handling complaints for a specific company or government institution, or may operate in a broader manner. For instance, for helping and assisting customers with their complaints and issues, or dealing with unjust treatment from a private firm, an industry ombudsman like insurance or consumer ombudsman is appointed. Big public firms such as the California Department of Health Care Services may prefer appointing their special ombudsman. An ombudsman can scrutinize many complaints related to a specific product or service, or any other problem that a customer had experienced with the firm. Every ombudsman appointed within an organization has a major function of resolving issues within the firm such as employees dissatisfaction, or a school or a colleges complaint against its students. The duties and responsibilities of an ombudsman vary from nation to nation. There are some nations where ombudsmen deal with problems including corruption or government officials neglecting their duties, or misusing their power. Then, there are some other nations where ombudsmen are more concerned with the protection of human rights. Though the government appoints an ombudsman, he/she can have flexibility in order to perform his or her duties and tasks. This helps him in being just and unbiased towards all members or parties involved in a complaint. Different countries may have different names or titles for ombudsmen such as national defender, public advocate, etc.