7 Types and Functions of An Ombudsman

  • Neelam Tyagi
  • Dec 09, 2020
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The word “Ombudsman” evolved from the Swedish ombudsman, signifying “the legal representative”. Initially, the Swedish legislature made the designation of the ombudsperson in early 1800, with the translation of ombudsperson as “the official investigator of citizen complaints”. This person was acknowledged as “the person of legal capabilities and superior virtue.” 


In the present time, an ombudsman addresses some administrative concerns that citizens have against organizations or bureaucracies. In those conditions, the ombudsman acts as a mediator between two parties and gives recommendations impartially. For example, an official of the state is appointed to supervise a probe of a pool of accusations concerning inappropriate government activities against citizens. But, how this official authority works, what are its functions and types? Let’s discuss more in detail via this blog.  


On the same note, during this blog course, we will be mainly focussing over understanding Ombudsman, role and functioning of Ombudsman, its types and working, and many more things in detail. So, let’s dive right in.


Understanding Ombudsman


An ombudsman is a legal delegate, designated by a government authority or an organization in order to investigate several complaints created by individuals for the subject of citizens of a country or executives of an organization. 


Put simply, an ombudsman is an official representative, elected by the government or an association, who interrogate accusations made by other citizens against businesses, financial institutions, government departments or other public articles, etc, while attempting to answer the conflicts or perturb arisen either through conciliation or by accounting proper judgements.


The Ombudsman is independent, unbiased and gives cost-free services. He/she investigates complaints when problems have been commanded inappropriately or unfairly, or making citizens undergo unfair consequences, some situations similar to maladministration, included examples are inconsistent delay, disrespect, negligence to follow tidy procedures, bias, presenting inadequate suggestions willingly, etc.


The following are the duties of ombudsman;


  • Dealing complaints,

  • Analyzing or investigating at his/her own discretion and initiative,

  • Examining violations reports of uprightness, and

  • Rendering ample information.


Discussing below the specification of an ombudsman;


  • Ombudsman could render their services at cost-free, and therefore approachable to individuals who are not able to execute their grievance by the courts.

  • Wherever and whenever the ombudsman finds injustice, he/she puts it right in. Also, attempt to tackle issues without involving formal investigation expediency.

  • Before commencing a step towards an investigation, the ombudsman asks the concerned body and accusers to clear up complaints.

  • He/she could account a unique investigation into various accusations for the same concern, and therefore confining replication and extensive costs.

  • Ombudsman are fully dedicated to assisting the individuals, also figuring out systematic failure in order to modify working bodies in their jurisdiction, both combinedly and individually. 


What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Ombudsman?


Implementing ombudsman into the system provides various advantages and disadvantages, involving;




  • No expense/payments,

  • An autonomous system, i.e., independent from government,

  • Reports get proclaimed while addressing methodical issues emerging under an agency or while deploying a government program,

  • Improper practices could be corrected, and

  • An ombudsman of the state may provide reconciliation along with impartial investigation




  • An ombudsman unable to render instantaneous solutions for very complicated problems,

  • The accuser has no command on the investigation, that means an ombudsman doesn’t only for accuser only, and decline deal over some specific matters,

  • Specific decisions, made by an ombudsman, are not obligatory, and

  • The Federation ombudsman can provide only investigation, not reconciliation. ( Also read: What is the Federal Reserve System?)


7 Types of Ombudsman


In order to receive and investigate complaints from aggrieved parties against the government or organizational entities in an impartial, independent and confidential manner, an ombudsman is elected for different issues in several domains, some fields are discussed below;


  1. Organizational Ombudsman


While working in the private and public sector, an organizational ombudsman receives and investigates complaints made by an entity's members, employees, or contractors about its practices or policies. Serving as a designated unbiased in a particular organization, an organization ombudsman assists in dealing with the conflicts at an informal level for the organization with a wide range of procedures from conflict coaching to informal mediation. Only he/she is responsible to respond to the concerns and disputes reported by visitors to the administrative office and can report trends, integral problems, and organizational issues to high-level officials and employees in a confidential manner. 


An organizational ombudsman is an informal resource, ie. can’t engage in any formal administrative process related to the issues brought to his/her attention. An example of an organizational ombudsman is the university ombudsman. An organizational ombudsman could interrogate or operate in particular with the informal processes described in the official agreement, and direct various inquiries legitimately and independently. 


  1. Classical Ombudsman


A classical ombudsman works to deal with the problems for the public or within an entity regarding the actions or policies of government entities or individuals. The power & control and authorization of the classical ombudsman are presented by sanctioned language and elected by constituents or legislatures or by organizations in order to govern the treatment of citizens under the national law. A classical ombudsman has the power to conduct an investigation to provide recommendations for suitable redress or modification in policies. 


  1. Advocate Ombudsman 


An advocate ombudsman can be allocated in both the public and private sector for evaluating allegations, but it is also required to defend or advocate at the place of individuals or groups of people identified as persecuted. However, an advocate ombudsman is generally found in organizations such as long-term care amenities or agencies, and the organizations that specifically operate with juvenile convicts. 


An advocate ombudsman can represent the interests of constituents in terms of several policies, practised by chartering entities, government agencies, or other organizations and can begin action when entitled in the judicial, administrative, or legislative forum. (Must read: Artificial Intelligence in the Law Industry)

  1. Hybrid Ombudsman


Hybrid Ombudsman is appointed via policies or terms of reference through both public and private sector organizations. Primarily, a hybrid ombudsman deploys informal procedure for solving complaints and also embraces the investigation potency as well as the power to produce annual and specific reports.


  1. Legislative Ombudsman


Being connected to a government legislative arm entity, a legislative ombudsman deals with the problems raised by common people or internal branches, generally regarding the policies or actions of government entities, individuals or contractors against holding agencies accountable to people, and assisting in legislative supervise of those agencies. Also, an ombudsman can issue people reports and recommendations for changes within the legislative entities and publicly. 


  1. Executive Ombudsman


An executive ombudsman can be assigned for the private or public sector that oversees complaints about actions and failures, to perform, of the organizations, its officials, executives and contractors. An example of this kind of ombudsman is municipal government ombudsman. An executive ombudsman can conduct interrogations, publish reports, and cooperate with the officials of organization in order to work for making improved programs. Dissimilar to the legislative ombudsman where the ombudsman is appointed by or with the acceptance of a legislative personality, instead an executive ombudsman is appointed by the head of the organization’s entity. 


  1. Media Ombudsman


Being familiar to many individuals, the media or news ombudsman is the official to encourage transparency within the specific news organization. An ombudsman can obtain and interrogate complaints regarding news reporting on behalf of the public and then suggest the most appropriate actions to solve the raised issues in complaints. An ombudsman is a self-governing official who could explicate the roles and commitment of journalism to the public and serve as a mediator amid public expectation and journalists’ obligations. (Also read: Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Media Industry)


What are the Functions of Ombudsman?


One of the main functions of an ombudsman is to defend the rights and freedoms of citizens. In previous centuries, autocracies were there in many European states, also bureaucracies were unsympathetic to independence. This condition was the initial inspiration for freedom-loving people to account for a solution and the ombudsman was the aftereffect.


In various nations, the ombudsman performs another function, embracing the power of overseeing the general civil administration, an ombudsman’s duty is nearly connected to public administration. In that case, an ombudsman examines some of the public administration jurisdiction-services like protection of freedom, conduction of duties and policies, etc. along with inspecting the proper functioning of these services. 


A common example is that in many states, common man problems are neglected, and general administration isn't available at the incident. In high-class society, the public administration is dominated by an economically ruling class, so the accusations of common men get ignored. In those conditions, an ombudsman performs such duties.  


In some countries, an ombudsman holds enormous power, for example, an ombudsman has been authorised to interrogate cases of corruption either against the government officials or the highest court judges. In those cases, the authoritative power of the ombudsman, over the judges, does not consume the independence of the judiciary, instead, the judges are litigated or penalised for corruption, duties’ negligence, or delay in providing judgement and many more.


Another significant function of the ombudsman is the employment of discretionary powers. These powers, like corruption, negligence, disorganisation, misbehaviour, etc,  are really big and how to deploy them completely relies on the concerned person. Therefore, the ombudsman protects the democratic rights and freedoms and makes the general administration free from corruption and inefficiency. (From)




In conclusion, we can say that the ombudsman, being a legal agent or representative, performs a wide range of duties nationally. In some countries, an ombudsman is appointed in order to deal with various issues like corruption, or misuses of power by public officials, etc, while in other nations, he/she has main functions as conserving human rights within these nations with a broad degree of independence for completing their functions. 


If the McGuinty government doesn't return all of the money plus interest, I think that is an issue for the ombudsman or for the auditor,—Howard Hampton


However, it is expected to act fairly and impartially, from the ombudsman to all personalities involved in a complaint.