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OMBUDSMAN COLLEGE. In Center,TEXAS
National Ombudsman is an independent government oversight agency acting as an advocate for private citizens in response to complaints of misconduct against public officials, public employees, and private contractors employed by public entities. The agency investigates complaints, issues reports of its findings, and attempts to remedy problems through mediation where possible and litigation where necessary.
Confronting corruption can be intimidating for an individual. Without the help of a public advocate, it can be overwhelming. National Ombudsman is answering calls from people who feel powerless in the face of corruption. National Ombudsman's mission is to promote and protect civil liberties for every one by supporting good and honest government.
The agency has the right and the duty to investigate the complaints that it receives. Each complaint is reviewed and referred, if appropriate, to a private investigator. Full disclosure from all parties involved in the complaint is expected and confidentiality, where necessary, is protected. If the investigator is able to substantiate the allegations in the complaint, then the complaint and the fact-finding data relating to it are forwarded to a prosecutorial entity, including but not limited to District Attorneys or Attorneys General.
The agency is non-partisan and non-judgmental. It is free to investigate allegations of misconduct against any public official, employee, or contractor without fear of any conflict of interest. It is free to expose corruption without concern for political reprisal and it is unrelenting in the pursuit of justice.
National Ombudsman maintains the credibility of its advocacy by meticulously guarding its independence. Cases are taken on the basis of their merits and people are appointed to manage those cases on the basis of their abilities. The agency values diversity and is open to the experience, insights, and skills of differing people regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, or background.
To process complaints, the agency maintains four divisions to receive and review allegations of misconduct. They include the Civil Affairs Complaint Center, the Public Health Complaint Center, the Police Complaint Center, and the Prison Complaint Center.
Corruption occurs at all levels of government and in a number of different forms, from bribery and extortion to nepotism, patronage, and embezzlement. A county official who takes a bribe for awarding a contract or a city employee who extorts money for issuing a permit are committing crimes with ripple effects that reach far beyond a single incident. The victims of these forms of corruption can range from a single individual to millions of people and the damage that they cause can be social as well as economic.
Public hospitals and clinics provide healthcare to millions of people every year. Medical facilities operated by the Veterans Administration add millions more to that list. Outcomes are never guaranteed and sometimes they go badly but when the truth about a patient s care is covered up, it is another example of corruption. There are a number of reasons why records are falsified and all of them are bad. Other problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse among health providers, are also covered up creating life-threatening problems for patients, liabilities for the health facilities, and hazards to the larger community through the theft of narcotics.
Police departments across the country recognize, unofficially, the Blue Code . It is a code of silence regarding police corruption and misconduct. Officers who engage in discriminatory arrests, physical abuse, verbal harassment, or selective enforcement of the law are considered to be corrupt. Although federal law prohibits officer misconduct, it remains a problem. Cop culture has created a barrier that protects corrupt officers. The environment in which they work has created a unique set of demands that has produced an us against them mentality among many officers and a reluctance to expose the problems.
Federal and state prisons, as well as city and county jails are overcrowded. They are populated with criminal gangs in violent conflict with each other and those who work in prisons and jails are under constant threat and frequently, they are under attack. Although the violent environment of prison is offered as a reason for misconduct by correctional officers, it is not a valid excuse. Unfortunately, like their counterparts in the police, correctional officers have their own code of silence.
The most effective tool in fighting corruption, whether among the police, or in a prison, or any other government office, is exposure. Many states have taken measures to promote the exposure of the Blue Code through ethics training in their police academies. Some have taken additional measures, such as polygraph testing and psychological evaluations, to select individuals who are less likely to condone misconduct. More government entities are following similar procedures to make it harder for people to violate ethics codes.
Corruption remains a significant problem in the United States but that does not mean that progress is not being made. In communities across the country, people are stepping up and fighting back. National Ombudsman is stepping in to help them, fighting for civil liberties by exposing corruption and curtailing abuse by those in positions of power and privilege.
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Bishop L.J. Guillory, Ombudsman General
Ombudsman International Inc.