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Frequently asked questions

Learn about the Ombudsman's Office, how we can help, and when to contact us.
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Ombudsman [om-buhdz-muhn]
(Funny name. Serious work.)

The word "ombudsman" is Swedish, and it means someone whose role is to respond to complaints about government.

What is the Office of the Ombudsman?

The City of Portland created the Office of the Ombudsman to assist the public with complaints and concerns about city agencies. The goals of the Ombudsman are to safeguard the rights of the people and promote higher standards of competency, efficiency and justice in the provision of city services. We are a part of the Office of the City Auditor, independent from the Mayor and City Council.

How can the Ombudsman help me?

The Ombudsman can conduct an independent, impartial investigation of administrative acts of city agencies and recommend appropriate changes. We try to resolve conflicts between the City and the public fairly, on a timely basis, and in a non-adversarial manner. The services of the Ombudsman are free. If you would like to request confidentiality, the Ombudsman will keep your identity and other identifying personal information confidential and will only disclose it if ordered to do so by the district attorney or a court of law.

When should I contact the Office of the Ombudsman?

First try seeking help from the staff of the city agency where the problem occurred. Often they will be able to help you more quickly than we can. If you are not sure which office you should call, we can give you a referral or you can view a list of other resources. If you cannot resolve the issue with the agency on your own, then contact the Ombudsman.

What types of problems CAN'T the Ombudsman help me with?

We only handle complaints against the City of Portland. We cannot investigate complaints against Federal, State, Metro or County agencies. We do not have jurisdiction over elected officials--City Commissioners, the Auditor, or the Mayor. There is a separate Independent Police Review to handle complaints against the Police.