What is the Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide?
The Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide is an independent agency of the Arizona Legislature that was established to make government more responsive to Arizona citizens. It is the office that Arizona citizens can turn to when they feel they have been treated unfairly by a state administrator, agency, department, board or commission. The services of the Ombudsman are free and confidential. The office is given its authority by Arizona Revised Statute sections 41-1371 through 41-1383 and operates under Arizona Administrative Code title 2 chapter 16.
The Arizona Ombudsman is an independent impartial dispute resolver. It is the ombudsman’s job to aid in the resolution of problems in a non-adversarial manner.
An ombudsman has broad powers to investigate and to make recommendations, but no authority to make or reverse a decision.
What can the Ombudsman do for me?
If your complaint is within our jurisdiction, our job is to investigate your complaint and determine whether you have been treated fairly. If we conclude your complaint is justified, we will work with you and the agency to find a fair solution. If we conclude your complaint is not justified, we will take the time to explain our reasoning. The ombudsman is not an advocate or someone who will automatically take your side in a conflict. Our job is to consider all sides of a question in an impartial and objective way. We will discuss your complaint with you in confidence. In many cases, we can provide the information you need to solve the problem yourself. In other cases we will investigate your complaint and act as a helpful mediator in negotiating a solution. We have no power to order changes in rules, regulations, policies or procedures. However, the great majority of state administrators are cooperative and responsive to our recommendations. If we are unable to work out a satisfactory solution, we can send a formal report of our findings and recommendations to the state legislature, governor and the public.
When should I go to the Ombudsman?
Usually it is best to think of the ombudsman as a last resort — someone who will try to help when other approaches have failed. If you have a problem, first discuss it with the person or office involved. Many times they will explain a specific policy or correct the problem on the spot. In fact, agency staff can solve most problems quicker and easier than the ombudsman. If you don’t know who to see, or what procedure to use, contact us. We can point you to the right person and explain the best way to go about solving your problem. If you have already made a reasonable effort with the agency to resolve your problem and have still not been successful, contact the Ombudsman.
Are there problems the Ombudsman can’t handle?
With the exception of matters relating to public access, we are only allowed to receive complaints having to do with administrative acts of the State of Arizona. We cannot take up conflicts with: private individuals, companies or organizations; federal, county or local governments; the Board of Regents, universities, or community colleges; elected officials and their chief advisors; the legislature and its staff; or the judicial branch of government. We can also decline to look into a case where our intervention would be inappropriate. If we can’t take up your case, we will tell you why. We will also do our best to provide advice, information and referral when we can’t help directly. We’ve compiled a directory organized by issue or problem to help you.
We cannot provide legal advice.