Coalition of Federal Ombudsman


"A Guide for Federal Employee Ombuds: A Supplement to and Annotation of the Standards for the Establishment and Operations of Ombuds Offices Issued by the American Bar Association".

This Guide, developed by the Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen (CFO) and the Federal Interagency Alternative Dispute Resolution Working Group (IADRWG) Steering Committee, builds upon the Standards For The Establishment And Operation Of Ombuds Offices issued February 2004 by the American Bar Association (ABA) and is intended only for use by federal employee Ombuds in connection with their functions for the federal government.

These standards apply to all Federal Ombudsman programs.

Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 (ADRA)

The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act (ADRA) of 1996 defines "alternative means of dispute resolution" to mean any procedure that is used to resolve issues in controversy, including, but not limited to, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, factfinding, minitrials, arbitration, and use of ombuds, or any combination thereof. ADRA contains specific provisions for Confidentiality that apply to all Federal Ombudsman.

Federal Acquisition Regulations Ombudsman (FAR)

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), Section 16.505, Ordering requires that the head of the agency shall designate a task-order and delivery-order ombudsman. The ombudsman must review complaints from contractors and ensure they are afforded a fair opportunity to be considered, consistent with the procedures in the contract. The ombudsman must be a senior agency official who is independent of the contracting officer and may be the agency's competition advocate.

NASA's provides an example of how to implement their FAR Ombudsman program in Subpart 1815.70--Ombudsman of their procurement procedures. They require that all synopses announcing competitive acquisitions and each contract and task order contain substantially the same clause found at Subpart 1852.215-84.


All Federal Programs, even a Federal Ombudsman Program, creates records needed to document activities for which they are responsible and demonstrate the effectiveness of the program. The National Archives and Records Administrationís (NARA), General Records Schedule 1, Civilian Personnel Records, Section 27, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Files contain general guidance on ARD record retention.

Ombudsman should consult with their agency records officer and Legal Counsel when developing their record retention policy and ensure any records retention procedures do not conflict with Ombudsman confidentiality requirements.