Coaching, Assistance, and Investigation
Our Role / What We Do
The Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide office provides a unique service because we offer objectivity to citizens who complain when they think Arizona government has treated them unfairly. The first thing our investigators do is listen to the person’s complaint. For some people, this is the first time they feel that anyone in government actually hears them. Then we determine the nature of the dispute and respond in the most appropriate way to resolve the issue. We group responses into three categories: coaching, assistance, and investigation.
Many residents resolve their own concerns once we inform them of the services available. We help educate citizens on the options available to them based on their specific complaint. We help define issues and rights, identify options, refer people to appropriate employees or departments, redirect citizens to services outside our jurisdiction, explain agency policies, research information, offer conflict management strategies, and develop reasonable expectations.
Sometimes coaching is not enough and residents need our office to communicate with government agencies directly. Most complaints result from a simple mistake or miscommunication. In these circumstances, we contact the appropriate agency on the citizen’s behalf, facilitate communication between the parties, or coordinate an action between agencies. Our investigators are working on a continual basis to foster relationships with agency personnel in every state agency to enable efficient resolution of complaints prior to escalation.
Some complaints are more serious and do not lend themselves to informal techniques. When the nature of the complaint warrants, we conduct an investigation. We work with the impacted individuals and agency personnel to ensure that the agency is complying with the law and being fair. Although we have no authority to compel an agency to follow our recommendations, most administrators are eager to resolve constituent problems and agency mistakes once we bring it to their attention. If the allegations are unsubstantiated and the agency performed correctly, we stand up for them and explain our findings to complainants. If necessary, we write investigative reports of our findings and recommendations. When such a report is final, we send it to the agency investigated, the legislature, the governor, and the complainant(s).