Approved: September 30, 2013
"Coalition of Federal Ombudsman," also referred to as "The Coalition" or “CoFO.” The term “ombudsman” is interchangeable with the term “ombuds.”
The Coalition of Federal Ombudsman is the principal interagency forum that provides collaboration, advice, and guidance on professional Ombuds standards, skills development, program development, and effectiveness.
Coalition members and committees work as an integrated and networked enterprise to increase the professionalism and effectiveness of Ombuds serving United States government agencies by sharing experiences, ideas, policies, standards, best practices, and innovative approaches to providing world-class Ombudsman services.
We believe Ombuds to be Independent, Neutral and Impartial, and Confidential. We strive for objectivity and fairness when assisting those involved with and impacted by the Federal Government Agencies.
We strive toward a leadership style based on cross-agency collaboration and interdisciplinary experience. We recognize and honor the widely divergent constituents we serve, practices we use, and people we are. This breadth of activity and experience provide for valuable exchanges.
4. THE COALITION MEMBERSHIP
Any person working as an Ombudsman, Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist or other persons interested in federal ombudsman practice.
The primary governing body of The Coalition is the Voting Membership, which shall be comprised of Ombuds working for Federal Agencies who practice according to the values cited above when performing ombuds duties. If an Agency has more than one Ombudsman (i.e. a sub-agency or division by subject matter or agency program), each Ombudsman (such as an Associate and an Assistant Ombuds) may be members of the Voting Membership.
5. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The Officers of the Executive Committee shall be the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, and Coordinator, who collaboratively govern and conduct necessary business for and on behalf of The Coalition.
All Officer positions, except for that of the Chair, may be comprised of two Ombuds, each with equal responsibility and authority, to minimize the workload for individual officers on the Executive Committee.
The Chair shall convene and preside over meetings; oversee the administrative and business functions of the Coalition; serve as ex-officio member of all committees; appoint special committees as necessary, with confirmation by majority vote of the Executive Committee; serve as the official spokesperson for the Coalition, to include serving as the primary point of contact to members of the public, federal and state agencies, and other professional organizations; and prepare and transmit written correspondence on behalf of the Coalition.
b. Vice Chair
The Vice Chair shall assist the Chair in carrying out the functions of the Coalition and act in the absence of the Chair. If the Chair cannot fulfill his or her term, the Vice Chair will fulfill the duties of the Chair. The Vice Chair may also act or serve at the specific request of the Chair, and may perform any other specific functions assigned by the Executive Committee.
The Secretary shall be responsible for preparing minutes of all CoFO meetings; maintain the official records of The Coalition, including minutes; and tally votes not cast by the showing of hands, including secret ballots and any electronic votes.
The Coordinator shall serve to assist The Coalition members and officers on a day-to-day basis; maintain and update membership lists; conduct appropriate outreach to members, potential members, and agencies interested in starting an ombuds program; provide official notice to membership as required and provide documentation to the Secretary.
e. Election of Officers
The officers shall be elected by the Executive Committee, during or shortly after the Annual Meeting, on a biannual basis on odd numbered years. Preceding the Annual Meeting, the Chair shall appoint a nominating committee of no less than three and no more than five persons. At the September meeting following the committee's appointment, the committee shall present a slate of candidates for the officers named herein. Immediately following the meeting at which the slate of candidates was presented, the coordinator shall post the candidates on the listserv with a reminder that new officers will be elected during the Fall timeframe.
f. Term of Officers
The term of office for officers shall be for two years. Officers shall be eligible to succeed themselves.
g. Removal of Officers or Members
Any officer of the Executive Committee or member of the Voting Membership may be removed or expelled by a 2/3 majority vote at any meeting called for that purpose. Notice of such meeting shall be provided at least 14 days prior, shall state the purpose for which the meeting was called, and shall be provided to the officer or member being proposed for removal. If expelled, a report summarizing reasons for such expulsion shall be prepared by the Secretary, a copy thereof shall be served upon the expelled member, and shall be maintained by the Secretary in the official records of The Coalition. Such report shall serve as notice that said person is no longer a member of The Coalition.
There shall be no compensation or indirect personal gain for serving as The Coalition's officers, as these are volunteer positions.
6. COMMITTEES AND WORKING GROUPS
Standing Committees and Working Groups promote the objectives and purposes of The Coalition. Dates and responsibilities assigned to these committees shall be subject to the authority of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee shall vote to establish or dissolve any of the committees and working groups, as needed. The terms of office of Committee Chairpersons shall be for one year, or until the election or appointment of a successor.
7. FOCUS AREAS
General topics of interest for which members can participate may include the following areas:
a. Collaboration / External Liaison. >Identify mechanisms for Coalition members to obtain technical and professional support and advice necessary for their office. Explore the feasibility of shared services (e.g. databases) that may be obtained by Ombuds that do not have the resources to otherwise perform these services.
Maintains partnerships with traditional groups (such as the Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group, International Ombudsman Association, United States Ombudsman Association, American Bar Association, Association for Conflict Resolution), and other partners in government, academia, and industry.
b. Communications. Develop a communications strategy. Maintain an internet website and other electronic systems for the benefit of Voting Membership as determined necessary or desirable. Functions may include supervising web content; projects to improve the website’s functionality, appearance, scope, and utility; recommending communications strategies to the Executive Committee; ensuring communications comply with Federal standards; providing timely information and news using a variety of communications vehicles as appropriate; exploring new media tools for outreach and internal coordination of information, including new social media websites and other new technologies with careful consideration of information security, legal, and privacy issues.
c. Conference. Collaboratively develop events providing educational value to CoFO members, including the Annual Conference.
d. Resource Clearinghouse. Serve as a clearinghouse for best practices to assist CoFO members and stakeholders establishing new Ombudsman offices.
e. Professional Development. Promote professional development and help improve the capacity of CoFO members to deliver world-class ombudsman services. Communicate educational opportunities for CoFO members. Solicit input from Coalition members on the training and the development needs of the Federal ombudsman community. Seek opportunities to improve training methods, enhance the development of ombudsman staff, and establish training to meet continuing educational requirements.
f. Legal and Legislation. Keep abreast of matters in the Congressional arena and legal matters that are of interest to the Ombudsman community.
a. Executive Committee Meetings and Decision-Making
b. Meetings of the Voting Membership
9. AMENDING THE CHARTER
After 30 days notice, the Voting Membership may amend the Charter, in whole or in part, with a quorum present, by a majority vote.
A proposed Charter -law amendment, changes or alteration or repeal shall be in writing, signed by at least two members. No vote shall be taken upon any proposal unless and until all members of the Voting Membership have received 30 days notice of consideration of any proposed change, alteration, repeal or amendment. To be official, any such notice shall include a copy of the proposed change, alteration, repeal or amendment. Placement of the notice and copy of the proposal on The Coalition's listserv by the Coordinator within the 30 day time limit shall constitute notice. In the absence of the Coordinator, the Chair may place the notice on the list serve to constitute notice.
 This document constitutes the Coalition’s operating by-laws and shall be referred to as “the Charter.”